Palestinians Struggle to Decolonize Education, Won’t Learn Israeli Lessons

by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours | Antiwar.com | July 14, 2011

EAST JERUSALEM — Widespread strikes across Palestinian civil society could be in store for East Jerusalem at the start of the next school year, as the municipality moves ahead with its current plan to implement an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools.

“I expect that the beginning of the new school year will not be a normal one. There will be lots of problems. There will be lots of demands, strikes,” Samir Jibril, director of the East Jerusalem Education Bureau told IPS. “All [the Palestinian] institutions are going to stand hand-in-hand against this implementation. Even civil society is demanding to stop this plan by the Israelis.”

In March of this year, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to private schools in East Jerusalem that receive allocations from the Israeli authorities. The letter stated that at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools would be obliged to purchase and only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.

These textbooks are already in use in East Jerusalem schools managed by the JEA. According to Jibril, however, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have at all levels rejected the plan to use them in private schools, since it is viewed as being politically motivated.

“The real reason behind all this story of curriculum is actually political. We’re talking about a radical [Israeli] government that is trying to impose its own identity on the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Knowing that Israel doesn’t recognize Palestinian identity, it is a political reflection rather than [for] any kind of educational or pedagogical [reason],” Jibril said.

The move to introduce the Israeli curriculum came after Israeli parliament member Alex Miller from the far-right Israel Beiteinu Party, who heads the Knesset’s Education Committee, stated during a meeting about unauthorized curricula in the education system that, in East Jerusalem, “the whole curriculum should and must be Israeli.” Continue reading