“The problem of modern international terrorism came to the world attention in a shocking way during the 1972 summer Olympic Games in Munich…Members of a Palestinian terrorist group killed two Israeli athletes and took nine others hostage, later killing them. Palestinian terrorists also used airplane hijackings and suicide bombers. Since then, few regions of the world have been spared from terrorist attacks”.
This is a paragraph from the history book that is taught to Palestinian students in Jerusalem in the Jerusalem American School in Beit Hanina.
Yes! You read right; this text is not part of an Israeli fundamentalist Zionist curriculum taught to Jewish Israeli students. It is part of a curriculum taught to Palestinians who pay REAL high fees to a school in the heart of (East) Jerusalem in high school level.
If you think of the tens of the students each year, who have graduated from that school in the last two decades of its establishment, assuming that this might have been the only questionable thing in the curriculum. Having these students passing by this chapter passively or not noticing or caring or maybe agreeing would secure a deformed identity of more than one generation, who happened to have parents who were as deformed not seeing this or noticing it or passing by it passively.
What was the price for all that? To have children speaking English?
How hard is it for parents to realize that there is something wrong inside the curriculum that feeds the mind of their students.
My experience with Jerusalem school ended after two years from sending my eldest daughter there around two decades ago. I was active in the PTA (Parents Teacher Association), and my decision to leave the school with not a single feeling of regret was based on some points that were principally irrevocable: my choice to that school was based on the idea of a nice open minded American system. No Religion. I was finding myself in a battle demanding that my child does not attend Bible classes. I refused to think of any Islamic school based on my strict belief that I don’t want religion to be part of the school education I want my child to have. I grew in a Catholic school were Muslims always had their separate religion classes, and we were never forced into Christianity classes. One day I was looking into a friend’s mathematics or science book who was a couple of years older than my daughter, and I was annoyed by seeing how much “religious” this school was. My annoyance was a result of my ignorance maybe that I could not see it earlier. You got ‘Jesus’ on every page even when you do mathematics calculations. I was thinking this seems like a choice of sending the girl to the Iman School (Iman means faith in Arabic, and the Iman school is an Orthodox Islamic school in East Jerusalem).
The other reason was the Arabic. I was there in the heart of Jerusalem, my daughter speaking Arabic as if she is growing up in San Francisco. And the last stroke for me was the attitude; I was starting to have this allergy from white, black perspective. American/ Arab opinion and it was something I did not like. Especially that we were paying a real big chunk of money to that school. They were not giving us charitable services.
Whatever it was, my hunch made me never look back to that choice. Something always felt wrong about that school.
Years passed, and the Jerusalem School became the number one attraction in Jerusalem schools. In the absence of proper educational system on the public level – for both Palestinian and Israeli- the serious problem stands in the lack of classes to the number of students. This seemed to be an inferiority syndrome within parents who didn’t have the chance to attend private schools or specifically did not learn English properly.
All the reasons are substantial grounds, and all parents naturally look for the best options to their children, and the Jerusalem School was competing with the best private schools in the city.
As someone who had many family members and friends going to that school including my brother and sister, my nieces and nephews, and my good friends, the news of the school always were around me.
The school continued to grow, and something fishy continued to stink!
On the opening of the new building, an Israeli flag was drawn among other flags. This scene of the Israeli flag at the entrance remained for quite some time, with parents who seemed passive or terrorized, until some parents took action and asked for removing it.
Some complaints you would hear are enormous, but nothing counts if people don’t make a real work.
Students are forced to skip verses of Quran in Arabic official textbooks.
The extracurricular activities the students have are based on normalization with Israeli students from Peres Center for Peace.
The religion classes they give to Muslims are deformed classes that describe the Prophet as a womanizer who was married to twenty women.
The description for Egypt in history lessons is that it is famous with its DIRT and garbage.
Until a few days ago with the end of the Jewish holiday students were taken into field visit to the German Colony to observe the ending festivities of the Jewish Holidays.
I have to say, that I never bothered to all what I hear all the time. I always blame people for being passive. I firmly believed and still believe that our children are getting deformed in the build up of their identities were a regular wiping out and replacing of historical and ideological ideas is taking place and is being replaced with Zionist ideals taught to Palestinian students.When I saw the chapter of this book, I felt devastated. If our children receive such material at this age, what happened before, in the ten previous years?
While we accuse loudly and harshly the government (both Palestinian and Israelis) for trying to change the curriculum into what seems more normalizing and \or Israelizing in minimal, not obvious points. How can someone read such a paragraph and stand still?
I doubt that such curricula are even taught in Israel schools. Israelis themselves admit that the Hagana and the Irgun were terror organizations. For the same of anything, these people could have mentioned that before making the Palestinians the reason of the modern world worries on terrorism …
As much as I hope that something will be taken immediately in checking this school curriculum on all levels. Those who sponsor them in America, or donors who believe that they are helping the poor Palestinian people, whereas this is a school that the rich can only pay its fees.
As much as I hope that the PA should take action in this hate, aggressive, (if I am allowed to think that promoting anti-Palestinian (resistance ) education is hate language )brainwashing curriculum that has Zionist agendas that are no longer hidden.
I am not sure how much one can count on parents who have blindly send their kids to a school without ever checking what their children learn. Or have known all along and compensated the English for the identity. After all, we are living in a situation that generated Oslo … a homeland ends with the benefits of one’s own.
ِAs I was re-reading this I was thinking how much I sound nationalistic in my approach. I do admit that nationalism is part of my identity, but somewhere raising the issue in such away is related to how fundamentalist the approach is. While I would have been happy to see my children exposed to different opinions on the history of this region. To have an approach that is so directed towards the other side of the story, where the school premises are standing on what is considered busy city by international law, only destroys the fabric of the society.
Bringing peace does not come by deforming the minds of the generation of Palestinian children. We need Palestinians who are well educated in a manner that entitles them to think for themselves freely. Not to believe in a directive approach towards the opposite of who you are.