Confronting Bias and Promoting Coexistence in East Jerusalem’s Education

Greetings, friends of Israel! We’re here to discuss a deeply pressing issue that has the potential to shape the future of our region—education. Education is a foundation stone, not only for personal growth but also for fostering unity and understanding amongst diverse groups. It is with concern, therefore, that we bring you the latest findings from the Education, Culture, and Sports Committee’s Subcommittee on Curricula in Eastern Jerusalem.

According to a recent briefing, approximately 20,000 Arab students in Jerusalem are being exposed to an education system based on the Palestinian Authority curriculum. The chair of the Education Subcommittee, MK Amit Halevi, has voiced concern, stating that this curriculum is not neutral, and could potentially foster animosity towards Israel. He finds it unacceptable that these students within the borders of our nation are receiving an education that potentially promotes discord rather than harmony.

Lara Mubariki, head of the Jerusalem Municipality’s Arab Education Department, provided some insight into the education landscape in East Jerusalem. There are around 120,000 students, with 20,000 attending private institutions outside the purview of the Israeli establishment. Of the remaining students, 55,000 study under the Israeli curriculum, with 60% of these advancing to institutions like Hebrew University, Hadassah, and Azrieli Colleges.

Despite the challenge presented by limited physical resources, there’s a growing demand for schools offering the Israeli curriculum, indicating a desire for integration and mutual understanding among students and their families.

During the subcommittee meeting, an anonymous speaker shared his personal experience, illustrating how the curriculum in question focused primarily on Palestinian narratives and incited hatred toward Israel and its Jewish population. He was not taught about the Israeli state nor did he learn Hebrew, as he was told that the Israeli presence was temporary.

Addressing the deeply concerning aspects of the speaker’s story, Halevi lamented that the speaker had to remain anonymous for his safety, which he deemed as a disgrace to the state.

Natan Shor, responsible for textbook censorship at the Jerusalem Municipality, detailed that despite the municipality funding textbook editing and printing, it is instructed to perform censorship only up to 10th grade. Palestinian Authority-provided textbooks for the 11th and 12th grades potentially include harmful rhetoric.

Moving forward, the subcommittee emphasized the need for tools to counter schools encouraging incitement. It also underscored the necessity of significant sanctions, beyond merely the closure of schools.

In conclusion, friends, Israel, as a beacon of democratic values and cultural diversity, is faced with a challenge that requires careful attention and swift action. Addressing this educational discrepancy is not just about enforcing our curriculum—it’s about fostering a generation that understands coexistence, embraces diversity, and acknowledges the complex tapestry that makes our shared region unique.

Let’s stand together for a future where Israeli and Palestinian children can sit side-by-side, understanding each other’s narratives, and working towards a peaceful, prosperous future. Because that’s what Israel truly stands for unity in diversity, strength in adversity, and peace above all.