Friday, October 29, 2010

Perils of distorted historiography in Israel's schools

What do most teachers and pupils in Israeli schools know about attacks and massacres against Jews in Muslim states in the 20th century? Nothing. But Israelis seeking a reliable depiction of the past cannot accept the portrayal of Jews as prosperous and happy in Islamic states until colonialism and 'Zionist aggression' ruined the idyll. Zvi Zameret explains in Haaretz why a particularly distorting history textbook giving the 'Palestinian narrative' has been banned in Israeli schools:

In the Farhud, the anti-Jewish riots in Iraq in 1941, 180 Jews were murdered and 700 were injured. In the course of violent demonstrations that flared in Egypt in November 1945, 400 Jews were hurt, and much Jewish-owned property was looted and damaged. Rioting in Libya, also in November 1945, was much more costly: 130 Jews were murdered and 266 were injured. The December 1947 riots in Syria left 13 Jews dead (eight of them children ) in Damascus, and 26 wounded. In Aleppo, 150 houses were damaged, five schools and 10 synagogues were torched, and there were dozens of Jewish casualties. At the same time in Aden, Yemen, 97 Jews were murdered and 120 were injured; some Jews who experienced these events deem them "the holocaust of Yemenite Jewry."

These are a few of several dozen anti-Jewish attacks and massacres perpetrated in Arab states during the course of the 20th century. What do most teachers and pupils in Israel know about these events? Nothing. In contrast, ask an ordinary Israeli high-school class about the killings at Deir Yassin or about the Nakba, and there will inevitably be several pupils who know something about the subject.

History is not a competition between tragedies and catastrophes. But an Israeli who seeks a reliable depiction of past events cannot accept a mendacious historiography that portrays Jews as living prosperously and happily in Islamic states until Zionist colonialism and "Zionist aggression" ruined the idyll.

In both its 2003 version and in its updated 2009 printing, the textbook "Learning Each Other's Historical Narrative" offers one of the most conspicuous examples of distorted historiography. In this book, Palestinians attack, often aggressively, and also blacken and misrepresent the Zionist movement. However, none of the facts mentioned at the start of this article merit mention in the text. Two supposed narratives are presented side by side in the book, but both are incomplete, ill-informed and misleading.

Read article in full


Anonymous said...

One thing that all school in Israeli have not yet teaching the kids in matter of geography is "Israeli borders" Why?

bataween said...

There are 20 border disputes in the Middle East and N Africa alone not including Israel. Iraq has a dispute over the Shatt al Arab with Iran to give one example so your comment is a red herring.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the "red herring" comment is more applicable to you than me.

Go read my comment, my point I raised was clear and obvious, I did not mentioned or talk about state / courtiers borders disputes here with their neighbours, I am talking in general term that any country have had its borders all the pupils of that nation got to know from early age when they were kids in the schools…….Israel the only state that established by UN resolution which never happen to any state or nation in our glob have no borders at all, Israeli kids in schools did not taught what their state boarders?

So which Comment is a “red herring" here? Read Education Minister Yuli Tamir issuing a directive that the Green Line should be reintroduced in Israeli schoolbooks.

bataween said...

I don't know what your point has to do with distorted historiography. There is a Jewish people, no matter how hard you try to deny it, and it has its own history and its own state called Israel - the fact that sovereignty in the West Bank is still disputed between Israelis and Arabs has nothing to do with that issue.

Anonymous said...

Once again, all this is beginning to sound (if "sound" is indeed the right word here!) like the "dialogue of the deaf".

I thought I have already made my point over this subject, if not ad nauseum. To repeat, my contention on this topic, as in general, has been and will always be to stick to the original defintions of the terms and not to fall into the confusions (not to say malicious traps) of erroneous common (especially media-perpetuated) usages, which will inevitably lead to going around in circles, and talking across-purposes, as seems to have become the mark of this dialogue between the two of us>

There is a Jewish people, no matter how hard you try to deny it,

are you sick, or blind? this is has nothing to do what I said.

bataween said...

Ok - let me try to explain one last time.
This post is about the writing of history - how lies about the history of the Jewish people are being spread in 'history' textbooks. You go off at a tangent about Yuli Tamir and the Green Line, an attempt by an ex- minister to impose her views about the disputed territory of Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) on Israeli schoolchildren - absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this post.
I've been very patient with you so far, Anon, because I do believe in freedom of speech, but any more such Off Topic rants and personal abuse from you will in future be deleted.

Sylvia said...


This article is about Israeli pro-Palestinian Leftists and Israeli Arabs who dominate in the Education Ministry (Yuli Tamir, a founder of Shalom Akhshav, is a good example of a radical Leftist tuened Education Minister - no less). Those people are imposing in school textbooks their political views on the history of the Israel- Paletinian conflict and distorting the history of the Jews in Arab/Muslim countries ro suit their fabricated narrative. We - Jews from Arab countries - believe that no one has the right to erase our histories and memories, the good and the bad, to suit their personal political agendas - whether we agree with those agendas or not.

Now that you understand the background, let me tell you that the Israeli students know exactly where the borders are. They know everything about the green line (1967 border with Jordan at the time), the Golan Heights (the borders with Lebanon, Gaza,Egypt and Jordan are not in dispute). They are taken on tours to Jerusalem and shown exactly where the old wall border that separated East from West.

It is, unfortunately, the Palestinians and the radical Jewish Left who insist on deleting the borders. There are no borders in Palestinian maps. There are no borders in maps displayed by pro-one state solution, and by pro-Palestinians in and out of the region. I remember an old interview of Edward Said by Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit, whereby Ari Shavit - a product of Israeli schools - was surprised to see on the wall in Said's office a map without borders.

Anonymous, try to get your facts straight because there can be no dialogue if one party presents propaganda as fact, and the other party waste their time refuting it.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

yuli tamir was a fool, and if she believes that the Green Line is or ever was a border, that proves that she is a fool. The Green Line was an armistice line decided in 1949 on the isle of Rhodes in negotiations led by Ralph Bunche. This line more or less reflects where the armies were when fighting stopped but it did take into account various practical problems of the line between the forces.

Yuli tamir is/was a prof of education. Nonetheless, a fool who did a bad job as minister. Sylvia nails her pretty well.

Joe S said...


Just wanted to thank you for your EXCELLENT post.
Anonymous, this is what a post should look like. FACTS and not propaganda and snide innuendo.