Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth -

Civics class lost for words in Arabic

The other day Shimon Gapso, the far-right mayor of Upper Nazareth, outraged a family of US Jewish philanthropists by refusing to set up a school teaching in Arabic for the fifth of the students in his care who belong to the Palestinian minority. The Green family have threatened to withdraw the funding they provide to subsidise services in Gapso’s town if he doesn’t relent.

Is Gapso’s racist behaviour exceptional? You bet not. It’s fully in accord with the new approach of the Education Ministry.

Haaretz reports today that the ministry has failed to issue in Arabic either of its two new civics textbooks – on which all Israeli students are tested for their matriculation exam (the equivalent of a high school diploma) – and has no plans to do so.

The teachers and students in Arab schools have been trying to get by for several months studying in Hebrew, a third language for them, after the written and spoken variations of Arabic. When questioned, the ministry told the teachers to “translate the material themselves”.

Here the ministry is giving them a more complete education in the meaning of Israeli-style civics than they can hope to learn from a textbook.

Compounding the ministry’s complete disregard of its duty of care to the Palestinian students, and introducing yet another obstacle to their receiving educational qualifications or getting into university, is the fact that the new textbooks have been rewritten to emphasise the Jewish and Zionist elements of the state. One of the books is written by a professor associated with the far-right Institute for Zionist Studies.

The head of the civics curriculum at the ministry, Adar Cohen, was sacked last year, after concerns were raised that he was too leftwing. I wrote about that here:

So how should wealthy US Jews who donate to Israeli (Jewish) causes respond? Let’s hope, however forlornly, that some of them finally show enough moral resolve to follow the lead of the Green family.

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