Israel’s Ministry of Education : No Seminar on Nakba for Kindergarten Teachers

|

Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center (AIC) | 22/08/2010 |

Israel’s Ministry of Education ordered kindergarten teachers to not attend a seminar on the topic of introducing the Nakba to curriculum across the country.

The daylong seminar, scheduled for Tuesday, 17 August, was organized by the organization Zochrot (remembering). Zochrot is a group of Israeli citizens working to raise awareness of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948 that resulted in the creation of the state of Israel, with special awareness curriculum developed for students in the Jewish education system.

The seminar was aimed at preschool teachers and facilitated an open discussion as to how to introduce the subject of the Nakba to preschool children, providing a safe place for educators to raise questions and suggestions.

However, the weekend before the seminar was meant to take place, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, represented by attorney Hila Cohen, demanded that Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar halt Zochrot’s activities within the education system and call on teachers not to attend Zochrot’s seminar, reported the Jerusalem Post.

Zochrot’s website states that the organization, “works to make the history of the Nakba accessible to the Israeli public so as to engage Jews and Palestinians in an open recounting of our painful common history… Acknowledging the past is the first step in taking responsibility for its consequences. This must include equal rights for all the peoples of this land, including the right of Palestinians to return to their homes.”

“Zochrot is a private organization not authorized by the Ministry of Education,” the Ministry of Education said in statement.

“The State of Israel cannot allow people ‘wishing to destroy it’ to be active among young school- and preschool children,” Legal Forum director Nahi Eyal said in a statement. “It seems there is no limit to the extreme-leftist organization’s impertinence, asking to influence innocent children by way of irresponsible teachers. The Nakba learning program for preschool children is clear aid to our enemies going after the destruction of the State of Israel.”

Sima Hadad, supervisor of the ministry’s preschool department, informed teachers the day of the seminar that Zochrot is a private initiative and that because the event is not part of the ministry’s programs, they should not cooperate with the NGO as part of preparations for the coming school year, reported the Post.

Amaya Galili, Education Coordinator for Zochrot and one of the organizers of the event, said that despite the Ministry’s advice to teachers, the forum was very exciting. The 25 educators present expressed “a lot of enthusiasm to do something about the issues of the Nakba,” Galili told the AIC.

Zochrot has developed a Nakba educational folder for high school students and in the past year the group organized programs in Tel Aviv, Beersheva, and Jerusalem, and plan to add Haifa next year.

“Jewish Israeli identity is built on not acknowledging the Nakba,” Galili said. Part of the seminar’s discussion included whether or not to define the Nakba as the events that occurred in 1948-1949 alone, or also how it affects Israeli society today.