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Lebanese paper pans government for scrapping Palestinian issue from curriculum
An article by Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al-Akhbar slams Lebanon's Education Ministry over 'normalization with Israel,' accusing the ministry of removing the subject of the Palestinian struggle for monetary gain.

The Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al-Akhbar published an article Monday attacking the Lebanese Ministry of Education for not being anti-Israeli enough.

 

 

"The Ministry of Education scandal—History book without Palestine," was the newspaper's main headline in an article which identified—and not for the first time—signs that the Education Ministry's treatment of Israel is in a process of "normalization."

 

A caricature from the Al-Akhbar article
A caricature from the Al-Akhbar article
 

The article claimed that "these are not isolated incidents, but rather an ongoing process to conceal the efforts of normalization with Israel," adding that this can be "deduced from the views and comments of a number of educators on the deletion of the Palestinian cause from the curriculum" in the years 2016-2017 following a decision made by former Minister of Education Elias Bou Saab.

 

The article noted that subjects teaching about the emergence of Zionism, Palestine under the British Mandate, the 1948 Palestinian exodus, the 1956 Sinai Campaign (Operation Kadesh) and the Six-Day War in 1967 have all been stricken from the curriculum, leaving only the subject of Jordan and the Palestinian cause up until 1967. This, the paper points out, constitutes only half a page worth of material taught to ninth grade students.

 

It is also suggested in the article that this policy began "in 2014, when the British government granted the Ministry of Education a donation to cover the cost of textbooks for students," with the exception of geography textbooks, apparently because they included the word "occupied Palestine" on the map, rather than the word Israel.

 

No mention was made of what came of the conditional donation, but the article did claim that Britain started working via another channel, funding education in Lebanon through an institute called "religions," which it says promoted "religious diversity" and "a culture of peace," alleging that the former education minister's change in policy is the result of these events.

 

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron and former Minister of Education Elias Bou Saab, visiting a school in Beirut (Photo: Gettyimages)
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron and former Minister of Education Elias Bou Saab, visiting a school in Beirut (Photo: Gettyimages)

 

This is not the newspaper's first article panning the Education Ministry's apparent lenience with Israel.

 

In April 2016, the newspaper published an article reporting that the ministry is deliberating whether or not not to define Israel as an enemy of the state as part of the official curriculum. According to the report, some officials in the government insisted that education shouldn't be mixed with politics, and that children shouldn't be taught to hate.

 

Al-Akhbar, though, claims that this is merely part of the efforts to remove the issue of Palestine from the curriculum, writing that "the deletion of the Palestinian cause from the history books was done in complete silence," adding that it was "dropped earlier from exam questions," and saying that, due to this, students are not incentivized to learn about the subject.

 

(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)

 

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