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The Forum > Article Comments > Educating children in conflict zones > Comments

Educating children in conflict zones : Comments

By Neve Gordon and Catherine Rottenberg, published 26/10/2009

Educating children in a conflict zone is no simple matter. The pedagogical approach often exacerbates rather than diffuses tensions.

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There are 4 issues I'd like to address in relation to this article: 1. 'segregation' 2. budget 3. curriculum 4. the 'uniqueness' of the Hagar school.

1. Schools in Israel are 'segregated' only to the extent that schools in Australia are, that is by geographical distribution of ethnic groups. There are very few Muslim students in the northern suburbs of Sydney, for example and almost no Jewish students in the South West. This is not 'segregation'. There is NO Israeli law segregating students.

2. The unequal distribution of education funding and support resources to the Israeli Arab sector is a real issue. As in all societies, sectors that are relatively underdeveloped tend to receive fewer resources. The same is unfortunately true in Australia. In Israel, as in Australia, this issue must be forthrightly addressed.

3. Curriculum: All societies have the right (if not the obligation) to educate citizens committed to their national project via a ‘dominant narrative’. No society is obligated to adopt the narrative of self-proclaimed adversaries within its curriculum. Nevertheless, the Israel education ministry has mandated the teaching of BOTH narratives and Israeli textbooks refer to both. Schools are free to emphasise the elements of each narrative with which they are most comfortable.

The Nakba narrative is not only about the dispossession of 750,000 Palestinian Arabs in 1948 (of course it ignores the simultaneous dispossession of 800,000+ Jews from Arab lands); it is a narrative that sees the creation of Israel as a catastrophe. Would any state in the world be expected to teach its students that it is an illegitimate entity?

4. the 'uniqueness' of the Hagar school: The Hagar school is NOT unique. There are projects across Israel from many organisations who work to promote coexistence, including: Neve Shalom; Givat Haviva; Seeds of Peace; The Peres Center for Peace education program, the Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Center; The Arava Institute and many more individual educational and sporting programs for youth. Google any of them.
Posted by Leah, Friday, 30 October 2009 9:56:06 AM
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