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Israel censors Palestinian textbooks in East Jerusalem

Israeli authorities are attempting to impose new censored textbooks in Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem. Jalal Abukhater provides a sample of the changes and argues that censorship of Palestinian heritage and history is illegal, ineffective and dangerous. Students and parents are mounting protests.

Censored E. Jerusalem textbook (Photo: Jalal Abukhater)

By Jalal Abukhater

While the mainstream media has been dominated by big stories, others are not getting enough attention. For example, Israel’s Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA) recently decided to enforce the use of new, censored textbooks in all private schools in East Jerusalem. The JEA is a joint body of the Jerusalem municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education. At present, public Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem administrated by the JEA are already forced to use Israel-issued censored textbooks, and the JEA is trying to force private schools to use them too, despite the fact that it has no authority over them.

The decision was an initiative of Knesset Member Alex Miller from Yisrael Beiteinu, who is also head of the Knesset’s education committee. Miller stated (Hebrew) that in East Jerusalem “the whole curriculum should and must be Israeli.”

At the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, students and parents protested against the decision to impose the new censored curricula upon their schools. Students and parents have threatened to escalate their protests if the JEA keeps up its pressure and have said they will not attend the schools if the school administrations comply with the JEA decision. This action by the Israeli Education Ministry is completely illegal under international law, which considers East Jerusalem to be occupied territory; as such the move is yet another direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, specifically Article 13 of the ICESCR. The move  aims to deform Palestinian identity; the changes in the textbooks are dangerous and cannot be ignored.

I have obtained a copy of a report that highlights the modifications made by the JEA to the Palestinian textbooks that have been used since the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993. The report lists most of the changes made to textbooks used from first to tenth grade.

1. The logo of the Palestinian Authority that has been printed on all book covers has been removed and replaced with the logo of Jerusalem Municipality.

2.  In the censored textbooks, every mention and picture of a Palestinian flag has been removed, even in the coloring books for six-year olds.

3. Also in the first grade textbooks, a story about a female prisoner returning home, and a poem about the “dawn of freedom” were deleted from the censored versions.

4. All mention of the terms Nakba (meaning “catastrophe,” referring to Palestinian dispersion/exodus in 1948) and Palestinian right of return have been removed, including poems by exiled Palestinian poets expressing their longing for their beautiful homeland. Poems and songs about the beauty of Palestinian landscapes or poems that mention Israeli checkpoints have also been deleted.

5. Earlier history – from hundreds of years ago – is being equally censored. In the fourth-grade textbook, a story about Saladin and the Battle of Hattin was deleted from existence for no apparent reason. Similarly a story about the Siege of Acre during the Napoleonic invasion has been deleted.

6. In fact, all mentions of the city of Acre have been removed including a poem which calls Acre “the bride of the sea” and a story about students visiting the city for the first time. Additionally, all mentions of Jerusalem as “Al Quds” have been removed; a story in the second-grade textbook about a field trip to the Old City of Jerusalem has also been removed.

7. Any mention of Israel as an occupying force or East Jerusalem as an occupied city have been removed. This aims to assert Israeli control over occupied Palestinian lands behind the 1967 armistice lines. Furthermore, Palestinians inside Israel are not referred to as Palestinians anymore, anywhere.

8. Stories, songs, and poems about of the first and second Palestinian uprisings have all been deleted. Here is a sample the report cites from a deleted song that the JEA accuses of inciting to violence, translated: “Jerusalem is waiting for the dark occupation to wither away and for the bright day of freedom to arrive.” This is the only part of the song cited in the report.

9. In the geography textbooks of eight-grade students, the issue of pollution in the Palestinian environment addresses the waste sewage water dumped by settlements in the West Bank onto Palestinian villages; this whole lesson has been deleted. Also in all geography textbooks, facts about the Palestinian water crisis – such as in the Jordan Valley where roughly 8,000 settlers receive 20 times more water than almost 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank – are entirely deleted, in the newly censored textbooks.

10. In ninth and tenth grade history textbooks, almost the whole book has been deleted. Whole units that address the Palestinian issue from the time of the Balfour declaration (1917) until the Nakba (1948) have been deleted, leaving blank white pages for students to stare at.

Pages of Censored E. Jerusalem textbooks (Photo: Jalal Abukhater)

David Ben-Gurion once said in a conversation with Nahum Goldman: “That is natural: we have taken their country […] Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance.”

We have not forgotten, and we will never be forced to forget.

This issue is dangerous beyond description, and such illegal acts must not be allowed to pass unnoticed. People must act quickly and support the schools that have refused to deal with such misleading textbooks. The JEA has now threatened to cut funding to those schools, which are in need of support.

Everyone has the right to preserve his or her identity, heritage and history. All people have the right to receive proper education at schools they attend; no one deserves to receive censored, politicized propaganda that aims to control the minds of young people in any way. We will not be forced to forget nor will we be forced into ignorance about our own identity.

Jalal Abukhater is a resident of East Jerusalem, and a high school senior attending school in Ramallah. You can follow him on twitter @JalalAK_jojo

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    1. AYLA

      Thank you so much, Jalal. As one of the people who was raised on the mantra, “Never forget”, I’m ashamed. To me, the worst crime is to erase someone’s history, or to invalidate their experience, or identity. It’s also a very dangerous practice, to bury or suppress, and whoever is doing the burying or suppressing is the one it will come back to haunt.
      Also, you’re amazing–a high school senior. I’ve been admiring your comments for some time now (right? Since I saw Dahlia inviting that Jalal to submit, I’m going out on a limb here), and now this. In any case, I’ve been a teacher of academic and creative writing in Universities for over ten years, and currently teach masters and PhD students in Israel, and they could learn a lot from you. Keep going. Write your own books.

      Reply to Comment
    2. AYLA

      p.s Jalal–I just googled you and can not see that you’ve submitted for 972 before, and have a body of work, so you’re probably not the same person who was newly invited to submit, and may not need my encouragement, but you have it anyway!

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben Israel

      So Israel censors? SO WHAT? The other side does it and if it is okay for them, then it is okay for us. For instance, their denying the historical connection of the Jewish people to Eretz Israel. Their denial of the existence of the Batei Mikdash (Holy Temples) in Jerusalem. I visited the famous Biblical archaeological site at Sabastiya which was the site of the Biblical city of Shomron. They even uncovered the King Ahav’s palace. This is one of the oldest Biblical sites uncovered to this date. Unfortunatle, the site is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The Norwegian gov’t put up signs in English under the auspices of the PA saying “Sabastiya is one of the most important Greco-Roman archaeological sites in the country.” NO MENTION OF THE BIBLICAL FINDING. The dhimmi Norwegians are even willing to deny their own Christian heritage. So if the Palestinians can lie, why can’t we censor their books? If censorship is wrong, then it is wrong for EVERYBODY.

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    4. RichardNYC

      “This action by the Israeli Education Ministry is completely illegal under international law, which considers East Jerusalem to be occupied territory; as such the move is yet another direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, specifically Article 13 of the ICESCR.”
      –>What’s your legal argument here?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Deïr Yassin

      @ Jalal
      Great article. This is so important to spread. It’s simply part of the ethnocide of the Palestinian people.

      The Israelis can erase Akka from the curricula, just as they erased the village of Mahmoud Darwish outside Akka in ’48, but we’ll never forget, never:

      @ Ayla
      Jalal has written various articles here already. “A Palestinian East Jerusalamite’s view of the joint march” and one that I particularly appreciated: “Letter to Israeli Left: Choose one state, not Apartheid” 🙂

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    6. AYLA

      @BenIsrael–I understand that the biblical history here, and the ways that that connects you to this land (and, to you, gives you the right to be in the West Bank) is extremely important to you. But. It’s not parallel to what Jalal is writing about. We’re talking, here, about recent history: national identity, events that happened to people who are still living who have been deeply affected by those events, etc. It would be more parallel to talk about Holocaust Denial, but even then, it wouldn’t be truly parallel until it were the Jews who weren’t being allowed to study their own Holocaust history. In Germany.

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    7. AYLA

      @Deir and Jalal–that was a typo in my p.s. : should have read, “I can NOW see…”

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    8. Ben Israel

      Someone without a past has no presence. The Arabs deny ALL Jewish connection with the country. The Arabs deny the Jews are a people. This is NOT just ancient history, their censorship and lies affects the current situation. It feeds the conflict and makes sure it can never be resolved.
      The Israeli “peace camp” completely puts its head in the sand regarding what the Palestinians say and do. Abbas has repeatedly stated that the creation of the state of Israel ‘is the greatest crime in the history of mankind’. By defining us as such, do you think he is preparing his people for peace with us or is preparing the ground for ongoing conflict? Who is going to make concessions to “the greatest criminals in history”. I suggest you read what they say, particularly to their own people to get an understanding of the Arab/Israeli conflict.

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    9. RichardNYC

      “It would be more parallel to talk about Holocaust Denial, but even then, it wouldn’t be truly parallel until it were the Jews who weren’t being allowed to study their own Holocaust history. In Germany.”
      –>Nakba=Holocaust, a true statement of tolerance and good faith towards the Jewish people. Its nice, at least, that Palestinian nationalism is too strong to hide behind “a state for all its citizens.”

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    10. I don’t know what to say, Ben Israel. Because the Palestinians censor, distort and turn history into propaganda, it’s fine for Israel to do the same? This is what I mean when I say the occupation is deadly not just for the Palestinians, but for Israel, too.

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    11. AYLA

      @BenIsrael–Abbas just spoke to the whole world, and to his people, and stated that he knows Israelis want peace. Look–You’re always going to be able to find information to support your idea that Palestinians deny and hate us–and there will be some truth in it, just like Palestinians (and their supporters) can endlessly provide evidence that Israelis hate and deny them–and there will be some truth in it. How do you think it sounds to Palestinians to hear Netanyahu saying “We build, they destroy”, after we destroy their homes/villages/lives, and build on top of them? You’ve said that you don’t believe that the majority of Israelis were for the Shalit deal, which leads me to believe you do not live in the real Israel (the State, not The Land)–and I’m not talking legality; I’m just talking about being in touch with what’s really going on, today, on the street, between people. I’m not unaware of anti-jewish, anti-israel, and also anti-american propaganda in the Arab World. But I’m looking for ways to move us all forward by highlighting the equally true and prevalent efforts on both sides to move us forward, not to perpetuate hatred. Ideally, both jewish and palestinian histories should be taught in all the schools. If we believe that Israel has a right to be here despite (or because of) all the true history, we shouldn’t be afraid to teach all of that history.

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    12. Ben Israel

      Abbas says one thing to his own people, another to us. Arafat did the same (our leaders do it too). What is their TRUE position. Well, the Israeli Left says that their “true” position is what they tell us. Why? Well, they know that Israeli leaders lie to their own people (Rabin promising never to allow the Oslo Agreement to lead to major terrorist onslaught, Peres opposing a Palestinina state after Oslo, Sharon promising NOT to destroy Gush Katif before the elections and then doing the opposite after). In fact, the Israeli Left praises politicians who lie. Thus, they assume the Palestinians leaders will lie to their people the same way (“you know, they only say these things for internal consumption-they don’t really mean it!”). Well, that is wrong. They tell the truth to their own people and they lie to us. It’s as simple as that. The opposite of what Israeli politicians do.

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    13. Ben Israel

      I am sure you are up on ‘post-modernist’ thinking. They say “There is no truth, there are only narratives”. Well, our narrative is just as valid as their’s is.

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    14. AYLA

      And I agree with Larry Derfner. And, the more we distort the truth, the more we feed the machine. It would be a lot harder to say that Bin Laden is Tim Olson (have you heard that one?!?), or that the CIA is behind September Eleventh, or that Jews knew to stay home that day (!), if there had been no Iraqi War. I’d be with you if you were talking about fighting propaganda against us, rather than arguing that theirs justifies ours. You’ll never agree with this, but I think the best way to fight propaganda would be to start by launching a We Acknowledge these Truths of Yours campaign.

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    15. Ben Israel

      I don’t think all Arabs hate Jews and Israel. I read two articles by Israeli bloggers who write in Arabic and they say there is a significant minority of Arabs who respect and admire Israel. However, the leaders always find it expedient to play to the lowest common denominator and play up antisemitism and hatred for Israel. Look at what is happening in Egypt. Everyone seemed to think that the spirit of Tahrir would lead to a new, liberal order. Instead they are going to get a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated regime. The Islamic movement in “liberal, tolerant” Tunisia is demanding amending their constitutions to prevent Tunisia from normalizing relations with Israel. Everyone assumed that Sadat’s “government-to-government” peace agreement would eventually trickle down and change the “street’s” opinion of peace with Israel and make it acceptable on a popular lever. Thirty years later and this view was shown to be a total failure, hostility to Israel is just as virulent as it was 30 years ago (you heard about mobs setting upon Westernerers in Cairo accusing them of being “Jews”). Even should there be a peace agreement with the Palestinians, all the hate propaganda would continue because the basic grievance against Israel’s very existence would still be real and fresh. Sorry to have to contradict the peace camp’s illusions.

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    16. Ben Israel, there are honest narratives that try to weigh ALL the facts, not just those that make the narrator look good – and then there are dishonest ones that arrange information strictly for the narrator’s benefit. That’s called propaganda, and that’s what the Israeli education system is feeding Palestinians in Jerusalem. Go ahead, defend it.

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    17. Ben Israel

      We are being fed anecdotal examples of supposed Israeli censorship. I really don’t know why they would delete Saladin and the Battle of Hattin, if that indeed is what happened. But our view of the “Nakba” is very different than theirs. We say they started the war and brought the refugee situation on themselves. They claim we intentionally ran them out and it was always our plan to do so. Why not give our view? I happen to view it as the truth. I don’t view Israel as an “occupying force” in Jerusalem any more than I do in Jaffa or Nazeret. Why should we talk about their non-existent “right of return” of refugees?
      The water and pollution claims sound like propaganda to me. We all see Palestinian sewage flowing around the West Bank. I don’t believe anyone wants sewage from the Jewish settlements flowing into Arab villages, that serves no one and can be corrected. I could go on.

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    18. Deïr Yassin

      Ben Israel claims that Abbas has actually stated that “the creation of Israel is the greatest crime in the history of mankind”.

      I know Ben Israel is a liar so I tried to find any sources before accusing him of lying, and guess what ??
      The only sources I could find on such a statement came from a commenter named Y. Ben-Israel commenting on a Bernard Avishai article. And I assure you this Y. Ben-Isreal is our Ben Israel. He mentioned the Left in the second line…..
      And the same comment by “I_like_Ike_52” that we know is another pen name for Ben Israel (he has admitted so himself when Leonid Levin found out).
      A genuine Hasbarista, I wonder who he’s working for. The Yesha, maybe ?
      The Palestinian Authority doesn’t interfer with the way the mythology of the Jewish people is taught in Israeli schools ?
      Last year a joint Swedish-Palestinian-Israeli textbook project was established. The PA accepted to use the curricula in schools in the West Bank. Who refused ???? “The-Only-Democracy-In-The-Middle-East”

      And if some Palestinians are reticent to recognize Jewish history in Palestine, it’s because they know that now, 2000 years after, American and Russian Jews are using that ancient ‘myth’ to dispossess the natives !
      They pretend that God said to Joshua:
      ‘Just as I promised Moses, I’ll give you every place on which you set foot”
      Well, what would YOU do if you were Palestinian ? 🙂

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    19. Ben Israel, only in a totalitarian-minded country is there such a thing as “our narrative.”

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    20. Ben Israel

      Abbas said it on a “Nakba Day” and it was widely reported in the media. I AM NOT LYING.

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    21. @deir – I told “shoded yam” an hour ago, and I’m telling you (and other prolific users) now. You both argue your points very well without the name calling. So, keep the “liar” and other attacks out – keep the good arguments in. Otherwise, both you and others have seen me ban people from the site.

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    22. AYLA

      BI–sounds like you need some uncensored textbooks. Per LDs arguments, which are better than mine, I’d say that honest narratives include some of your truths along with many, many, many others. beyond that, you’re willfully denying a very real experience of people living within 100 kilometers of you, which I find to be one of the greatest tragedies of this place. And you’re intellectualizing the word “occupation”, not looking honestly at the experience of those who are very truly being occupied. I don’t earn most of my opinions from reading liberal writing; I earn them from knowing people, including palestinians, and listening. Your opinions never seem to change one bit. I have my eyes opened every day here (off-line!), and not only in ways that support a liberal perspective (and I have plenty of jerusalem journalist friends, who have been covering the conflict a long time, to keep me honest). Personally, I don’t want to live on any whitewashed land for my OWN sake. I don’t want two states because I want to live with Palestinians. I will weep if Lifta is destroyed, for my own sake. I study torah regularly, and Ishmael + descendants get a whole lot of play, BI. I’m aware of your perspective, and aware that you are not alone, and your perspective challenges my ability to believe in this State.

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    23. Deïr Yassin

      @ Ben Israel
      If it was widely reported how come I can’t find any tracks except your comments – under your various pen names – I guess he said it the same day as Charlie Bitton said he had turned his back on his earlier beliefs …. the same day that a ransom was paid to free Amira Hass hold as a hostage by Hamas …

      Why don’ you give me a link. I can’t find it. Maybe he said it in Hebrew… maybe it was one of those voices in your head …..maybe you’re just lying as usual ….

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    24. Deïr Yassin

      @ Ami
      What do I have the right to call someone as Ben Israel who is a pathetic l… ? He’s telling “non-truth” again and again, it apparently bother none of you.
      Where’s the line ? Do I have the right to say there never was a Holocaust (which is not what I believe, I’m just trying to know where you set the line for revisionist and negationist comments) ?

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    25. Ben Israel

      Why is it so unthinkable for Abbas to say that the creation of Israel was the greatest crime in history?

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    26. Ben Israel

      Every one of the things I stated, including Amira Hass, were reported in the media. I do not have any special “inside” sources of information. I am sorry if you don’t like them.

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    27. Ben Israel

      Regarding Charlie Biton…he was interviewed at length in the Makor Rishon newspaper…I remember that clearly. I presume you will say that they are a lying, Zionist hasabarist troll genocidal newspaper, so they don’t count, right? He said that the rest of the media wasn’t interested in talking to him so it is not surprising that nothing turned up in searches.

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    28. Deïr Yassin

      @ Ben Israel
      I have to be careful about what I say now or Ami is going to ban me 🙂
      You have a long story of not telling the truth (is that okay ?), and if Abbas said that “the creation of the State of Israel is the biggest crime in the history of mankind”, and as you claim it was widely reported: how come I can’t find ANY track of that on the net except your comments on the subjetc ????
      You’re lucky that here – contrary to Silverstein’s blog – you can say that kind of crap without giving a link.
      I understand very well your procedure: you’re the king of person throw shit at people constantly, knowing that at least some of the smell will stay around.
      Your only purpose here is discrediting, you simply don’t care whether your statements are true or not.
      So that link on Abbas’ statement, I’m waiting. Don’t you see your incapacity of giving a link proves you’re hmhmhm ?

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    29. RichardNYC

      “That’s called propaganda, and that’s what the Israeli education system is feeding Palestinians in Jerusalem. Go ahead, defend it.”
      –>Who cares. Its not like this is going to make a difference. The most fanatical Palestinians I’ve met are American, and they’re taught practically nothing about this stuff in school. This is not a pressing issue. If anything it just serves an excuse for Palestinians to get mad and write articles like this instead of negotiating. They’re going to teach their kids whatever’s left out of the book and more.

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    30. AYLA

      @Deir, seriously, I am so grateful to have fallen into your good graces, because if every time I signed on I had to hear “Oh sure–Ayla–Adult, Seventh Generation American with Newfound Israeli Citizenship who claims to care about Palestinians” I’d have been gone long ago. Then again, that would be very good for my writing, so maybe it’s a shame we ever connected ;). You clearly have a lot to offer here–I’ve learned a lot from you, and have at times been moved by you, as you know. In fact, my favorite 972 comment thread moment was between us :). Please stop summing everyone up and discounting them. I’ve observed commenters disappear for this reason. It’s also especially unfair, if you aren’t disclosing anything about yourself, to use people’s personal information against them.

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    31. @deir – i think i was very clear with what i said.
      furthermore, you are not being “careful” as you said, for you continue using foul language such as “crap” and “shit”.
      To sum it up, you’re inching closer to being banned. Consider this strike two.
      Keep it clean, as your fellow commentators do well on this thread.
      Thank you.

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    32. AYLA

      RichardNYC–so you, too, don’t care if we, jews and/or israelis, use propaganda since not using propaganda wont help us? So much for Jewish values / intellectualism. Is it defending Israel that has been our demise?

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    33. Deïr Yassin

      This comment has been deleted

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    34. Sinjim

      Deir, don’t let Ami or Ben Israel get to you. Nakba denial and other racist comments directed against our people are tolerated here, so long as people are polite about it. I once protested this “tolerance” back when there was another Hasbarist named Mayaa or something, and I too was threatened with banning (by Lisa Goldman).
      Let’s not kid ourselves, we are commenting on a site written overwhelmingly by and for (Israeli) Jews. When their extremists spout their nonsense, it’s not so bad because that’s what they hear all the time. So, Ben Israel can and does go around blissfully denying the Nakba, blaming the victims, and saying it’s just a “narrative,” and he won’t face any banning threats. You, however, will be threatened with banning for merely calling him a liar.
      Knowing this, just acknowledge Ami’s warning and move on. Strong Palestinian voices are always a breath of fresh air. Don’t give any of the mods an excuse to ban yours.

      Reply to Comment
    35. @sinjim – although you’re wrong, your good advice for deir came a bit too late. He has been banned, just as I and others have banned Israelis, Americans, Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and Jews. All are equal under the +972 comment policy. But you’re free to think otherwise, and even say it here – as long as it sticks to the rules. Which is what you’re doing (so far). Keep it up! 🙂

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    36. AYLA

      I thought Deir Yassin was female. and I never got to get my palestinian literature reading list from her. or him. :(. @sinjim–I’m sure that the same views that offend you here offend the writers as well. Two people on this thread have just said they have no problem with Israeli propaganda, and they weren’t even countering the fact that it is propaganda–that’s objectively offensive. but it’s a much more honest i/p conflict discussion with them here–they aren’t alone. To me, the bigger problem is not people like the right wing posters here on 972 who have an ideology to protect, but the average Israeli and the average American Jew don’t know the story. We need to change that, because most of them would care, a lot, if they really knew. And the best way to reach people is not with anger, or condescension. It will be a good day when Nakba denial is unacceptable.

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    37. I just got back from an event with educated, politically active israeli and palestinian young adults sponsored by a european country, a v impressive group. someone began talking about the censorship in pal textbooks (coincidentally, and it wasn’t me!). At some point an israeli asked why pal textbooks make absolutely no mention of israel at all. Then a highly articulate young palestinian woman got up and gave a passionate justification for why israel must never be mentioned in pal textbooks. she said that studying isrl = endorsement, and could set off a third intifada. other pals there agreed that this is an extremely charged issue for pals, that no one can touch. Can we agree there are some dangerous anti-intellectual trends being embraced on both sides that harm all people by promoting willful ignorance of historic truths and present reality? And that both sides shd work against these trends? I wonder if anyone has a problem with that. And I’d love a little of Ayla’s optimism to get us out of this bind…

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    38. Palestinian

      The same mentality , they have been playing such dirty games since the establishment of their illegal state , trying to brainwash everybody including the new Palestinian generations.They wish to erase the disgraceful bloody history of their fairy tale state ,paying billions and making huge effort to rewrite history the way they want.No matter what they do we will never forget.

      @SINJIM, let me tell one thing , you cant trust all people who claim they are part of the Israeli left-wing, because you discover they are Zionists with modified perception of Zionism , but deeply inside they are all the same.They believe in the same myths and fairy tales ” we are a people , we are unique , we came back to our homeland bla bla bla , you know the rest.Thats how they were raised up, they emphasize their myths on a daily basis since their birth.Very few manage to get out of the bubble they live in.Dont expect some bloggers to behave fairly to you no matter what they claim they are.

      Reply to Comment
    39. directrob

      Some posts on this site let me cringe … It must be worse as a Palestinian to read things like:
      “…On the other hand, should the 2-state solution falls through, then there will be a single state/genocidal civil war, and the Israeli Arabians will all be killed or deported anyways…”
      I always think they do the poster more harm than good, though this site could do without them …

      Reply to Comment
    40. AYLA

      @972–I was going to write “Amen” long before I got to the part where you mentioned me. Regarding optimism, generally, I have a core belief that it makes a difference, tangibly. If we don’t have a vision for change, and a belief that it’s possible, then it’s not. There are so many seismic changes going on in the world right now; a lot is possible. When this happens, the people who tend to react with fear and hate get louder, but I’ve heard theories that say that since love is stronger than hate, we only need 1/3 of us to tilt the scales.
      Now. What to do, practically? Because I am actually not the rainbow festival type :). you wrote “Can we agree there are some dangerous anti-intellectual trends being embraced on both sides that harm all people by promoting willful ignorance of historic truths and present reality? And that both sides shd work against these trends?” YES. And I strongly believe that the only way we’re going to change what is perhaps the most deeply-seated conflict on the planet is by working together, on both sides. I’ve heard Sami Awad say the same, and I respect him tremendously, and he knows the conflict a lot better than I do. It needs to be a more mainstream movement than, say, Shiekh Jarrah (though, keep going, Sheikh Jarrah!). I had been hoping, as many had, that the J14 movement could be tapped. Still am. Israelis need to be slapped out of complacency, and not by war.
      and we, readers on 972, should be working together, @Palestinian, and @Sinjim. @Palestinian–I can’t speak for an entire “left-wing”, but generally, I disagree with you, especially about the writers here, who are devoting their lives to justice. If you remember the story I told you about myself, I did not move here for nationalistic or ideological reasons (at all). That said, I do believe I have a right to be here, so if that’s what you mean about people like me, then you’re right. But. I do not want my right to be here without Palestinian rights, and for that reason, I became politically involved on behalf of Palestinians exactly when I became a citizen–I felt I had no choice any more. (I always cared. I was just here to write a book and then go home).
      I think it’s a shame that what finally got @Deir banned, here, was her discussion with Ben Israel, because I think he can take it, and he was denying her history. But she (he?), who I already miss, has chased a lot of people with much more moderate views off this site, and made a lot of discussions into insult-slinging fests, and her message was getting lost in all the insults, which is the biggest shame. Maybe she’ll assume a new identity and resurrect :). it’s not about politeness. it’s about basic respect, and it’s about intellectual discourse–if we slam each other into silence–if we can’t do this here, where can we?

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    41. AYLA

      sorry that was so long! i type really fast! I’ll work on it!

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    42. directrob

      The problem with +972’s statement is that Israeli can and do censor (or destroy) Palestinian educational material but Palestinians cannot censor Israeli material. Declaring that on both sides there are anti-intelectual people (though of course true) creates phony symmetry.

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    43. Palestinian

      @ Ayla , few writers here are aggressive and do their best to push your buttons using specific words.You know Ayla when you apply for a Canadian visa (you dont have to as an American citizen) its says ” Entering Canada isnt a right , its a privilege , so you as a foreigner have to ask the indigenous population to enter their territory , so its not your right to be here just like other Israelis.Its like the father stole the car , then the son has the right to ride it because he was born after his father stole it !! You entered the country not as an American but as a Jewish American,you were given the right by an occupying authority.And Ayla we both know the vast majority of foreigners who immigrate are doing it for nationalistic and/or religious reasons, you are an exception just like most (not all ) the writers here.

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    44. AYLA

      This is a good, important discussion. @DirectRob–I think that 972, who posted this piece against israeli censorship, took for granted in that statement (in the comment thread for this post) that we would know they are against israeli censorship. I heard them saying, ALSO this is a problem on the Palestinian side. I actually believe there’s more symmetry than either side wants to admit. We create each other. @Palestinian–I don’t blame you at all for thinking I don’t have the right to be a citizen here. I wouldn’t either if I were you. And I think I remember that you are not in Palestine, because your family was denied the right to return, and if that’s true–and/or for people for whom that is true–I agree completely about the injustice that I can be here and you cannot. It’s wrong. And you’re right–I do see from a Jewish perspective, and, so, I don’t see Israel as parallel to Canada. And I don’t blame you for being offended by that. And, I wrestle a lot with how Israel can possibly work, as a democracy, with its jewish interests–a lot needs to change. But in much more simple terms–I don’t want the right to be here at the present cost to Palestinian rights. So Palestinian–just to get an idea of where you stand, hypothetically, if we went back to the 67 borders and Palestinians finally, for the first, time ever, had true sovereignty, (which would actually kind of mean that as a result of Israel, Palestinians finally had sovereignty without Jordan or Britain or etc.) would you still view Israel as an occupying state, today?

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    45. AYLA

      @DirectRob–If what you’re saying is that Israelis can’t expect Palestinians to recognize Israeli History until Israel, first, recognizes Palestinian history, I can buy that, because Israel is in the position of power and occupier. I see it a lot like a deep, family conflict; it’s healing to hear someone who always wronged you acknowledge that, and atone for it. Then maybe you can begin to hear them… Leaving for the night–will check back in tomorrow. Take care and thanks for being here.

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    46. Ben Israel

      I am curious as to why this report focussed on Jerusalem Arabs. Isn’t the curriculum for Israeli Arabs (AKA “Palestinians who had Israeli identity cards forced on them in 1948”) the same. Why isn’t that just as objectionable.

      I am curious also if the Palestinian curriculum relates to the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab cities like Hevron, Gaza, Shechem, etc., due to Arab violence long before the 1948 war. Since we are told over and over that Muslims/Arabs hold Jews and Judaism in the HIGHEST regard, only having a problem with Zionists, how is it that these non-Zionist communities that existed from ancient times were driven out? Is the confronted in the Palestinian educational system?

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    47. sinjim

      @Ayla: I think your standards are unfair, to be perfectly honest. Why place so much emphasis on “being polite” when what is being said is utterly disgusting? You’re saying there is value in the exchange between Ben Israel, a Nakba denier, and Deir Yassin, whose family were victims of the Nakba. Can you not see how offensive that is?
      You don’t have to say “shit” and “crap” and call people who lied liars to be uncivil. People like Ben Israel and RichardNYC, who regularly but “politely” spout racist and extremist BS, are plenty uncivil. Believe it or not, Ayla, I do not find value in having to debate with people who deny my people’s history, indeed my own grandparents’ lives and tragedies. As great as your gaining some sort of understanding of the Palestinian experience is, it doesn’t make it worth it, either.
      So Ami can claim that we’re all treated equally here, but he’s wrong. The commenting policy specifically states that the mods won’t tolerate hatred, racism, and disrespect or the rhetoric that is nothing but invective. This describes exactly the contributions of the people I mentioned above, and they’re not banned because their views are well within the mainstream of (Israeli) Jewish discourse.
      This may seem like a rather petty thing to be upset about it, but in fact it’s a symptom of a larger dynamic in real life. Anti-Palestinian rhetoric is allowed in English-language media all the time, and it’s incredibly disappointing to see it on this website, which bills itself as something different.

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    48. sinjim

      Oh, and Ayla, I saw the Italian commenter who Deir supposedly “bullied off” this website. This is what the person had to say:
      “But, yes, there is a but, [the Arabs] hate every single Jew even if they do not know even one, just because of Palestine.”
      For whatever reason, you thanked her for her racist comment and encouraged her to comment more. And of course, no one but the Palestinian commenters countered her racist lies. Yeah, the more I read the comments on this website, the more I understand why Deir would use words like shit and crap.
      You would, too, if even the reasonable people such as yourself are thanking racists for their contributions.

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    49. Ben Israel

      Please name ONE “racist” thing I have ever said here. If you consider my saying that the Palestinians and other Arab countries in started the war in 1948 as “racism”, then you and all the others who criticize Israel all the time are racists, too. You say I am “not sensitive” to DY supposed claim that they are “victims of the Nakba”, well you and DY and the others are “not sensitive” to the suffering of the Jewish victims of Palestinian terror, which included putting shrapnel soaked in rat poison in their bombs.
      And, yes, if you consider my saying that the Palestinians brougth the Nakba on themselves as being “Nakba denial”, then I am proud of being a “Nakba deniar”.

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    50. Palestinian

      @ Ayla , I thought you support our ROR ?
      Unless every single Palestinian has the right to live anywhere in historic Palestine,what they call peace is worthless to me , even if the two-state solution was achieved (which will never be ).I’m not worried about a Jewish majority in Israel,they want a Jewish state let them have it somewhere else but not at our expense.l
      Lets assume we give up our ROR , do you think Israel will allow its 1.3 Palestinian population to mix with other Palestinians who will be living few kilometers (if not meters) away from them ?maintaining a Jewish majority is impossible….its either they live with it or leave it.

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