Textbooks on Arab view on Israel's birth
July 24: A new third grade textbook for Israeli Arab students
acknowledges that Israel's creation was a tragedy for Palestinians, Israeli
officials said yesterday.
The books issued by Israel's Education Ministry for the upcoming school year
describe the events of 1948 and 1949, when Israel's creation drew fierce
fighting and saw the displacement of some 700,000 Palestinians.
The new textbooks give the Jewish narrative of the war, pointing out the
Jews' historical connection to the Holy Land and their need for a state because
of persecution in Europe, said Dalia Fenig, an Education Ministry inspector. But
they also offer the Arab version of the war for the first time explaining why
its results were tragic for Palestinians and referring to the Arab defeat as
"al-Naqba," Arabic for catastrophe.
"The new approach
says, why should you hide anything? That won't make it disappear," Fenig said.
She said the education ministry had no plans to introduce the Arab narrative
into textbooks for Jewish students. Some hardline Israelis vowed to fight the
decision, insisting it made Israel look as if it was apologising for its
existence. Official Israeli histories of its birth, especially those for
schoolchildren, have typically focused on the heroism of Israeli forces and
glossed over the Palestinian flight, crediting the mass exile to voluntary
escape, if mentioning it at all.