Ramallah: An Israeli civics textbook under the theme of ‘Being a Citizen in Israel’, launched to mark the regime’s commemoration of the 68th anniversary of its establishment, has been slammed for its negative and dismissive attitude towards the native Palestinian citizens.
After the Israeli Education Ministry officially launched the textbook as part of the curriculum taught in Israeli schools, including those attended by Palestinian citizens, Palestinians reacted by condemning the move.
Israel on Thursday marks the 68th anniversary of its 1948 founding in Palestine, a celebration it refers to as its “Independence Day”.
Palestinian citizens of Israel are those minority natives who were not forced off their land by invading Zionist forces at the time. They lived under military rule for almost two decades but were then granted ostensibly equal citizenship. They however complain about systematic discrimination under a regime that places its Jewish nature above all else.
Groups representing Palestinian citizens issued a strongly worded statement quoting Dr Ayman Eghbariyah, a specialist in educational policies analysing the textbook which provided a unique platform for Jewish religious views of Israeli statehood. The new text highlighted the Zionist belief that the Jewish people were entitled to establish a state in Palestine because this was God’s promise to them, accompanied by biblical quotes highlighting the Jewish character of the regime.
The textbook repeats claims that this Jewish nature of Israel does not contradict with Israel’s claimed democratic character. “The earlier claimed balance between Israel’s Jewishness and democracy totally disappeared once and for all where the Palestinian school students inside the Green Line must be totally convinced and recognise the Zionist and Jewish character of Israel,” said Dr Eghbariyah.
The new text divides the non-Jews of Israel into sub-identities including Arabs, Druze and Circassians, highlighting the claim that most of the Druze do not identify themselves as Arabs. Dr Eghbariyah said that the new text provided lengthy discussion to the argument that all human rights should be conditioned with duties, notably serving in Israel’s military.
“This text is a mere manifestation of institutional racism in the Israeli society, and that will have dramatic effects on those who study it, especially around the age that children are beginning to figure out racial identity,” he said. “The text gives a clear and undeniable picture of the racist and fascist Israel which is controlled and ruled by a Jewish far right group which not only discriminates against the Arabs politically and considers the occupation as a natural way of life but discriminates against them even educationally.”
He said that the new text mentioned the Arab minority in Israel in two short sentences accusing them of discriminating against and oppressing women. The text never mentioned the social, political and ideological life of the Palestinians citizens. The text also minimised the role of the Arabic language as an official language of Israel saying “the status of the Arabic language in the public sphere, not unlike its status in legislation, is inconsistent.”
“The new text’s main aim is to perpetuate the Jewish superiority and the Palestinian Arab inferiority in Israel,” he said.