A small victory has been registered in the ongoing war for Yerushalayim: A handful of Arab schools in Israel’s capital have agreed to stop their all-out cultural war against Israel and the Jewish people and to teach their students certain aspects of Israel’s side in the decades-long conflict.
In exchange, the schools will receive 2,000 shekels per student, allocated by the Ministry of Education for all schools around the country that follow the national curriculum of the state of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and various other Arab groups are, not surprisingly, outraged – and have even warned parents to be on guard against Israeli “brainwashing” in these schools. Specifically, they are fuming at the following items in the curriculum that they feel “violate Palestinian culture and history” (as reported by the PA’s Ma’an news agency):
* History lessons about the destruction of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem – the existence of which PA spokesmen consistently deny.
* Maps “purporting to depict the state of Israel” (Ma’an’s wording) that use biblical names and show Judea and Samaria within Israeli borders.
* A photograph of the separation wall preventing terrorist infiltration into Jewish-populated areas and identifies it as Israel’s “security fence.”
* A dialogue in one of the textbooks in which Arab students praise Israel’s development of Arab cities and actually decide to sing the Israeli national anthem. The circumstances of this item are not provided in the Ma’an report – a lack of detail that raises the following question: Why would the Israeli textbook writers have Arab students sing about the Jewish national return to Zion simply because Israel shows concern for its minorities? What does one have to do with the other? Unfortunately, that which is actually presented in the book, as opposed to the description provided by Ma’an, is likely never to be revealed to those of us who do not read Arabic.
The Israeli curriculum is also offensive, according to Ma’an, because it actually dares to refer to Israel as a bastion of human rights and democracy.
But of greatest concern, for Israel, is the fact that the Arab side objects to the curriculum because it actually identifies Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This is astounding. If PA teachers cannot accept an Israeli textbook that presents our ancient holy city – where King David’s monarchy was centered in the original independent biblical Jewish commonwealth nearly 3,300 years ago – as the Jewish capital, what does this tell us about their intentions to ever live in peace with a Jewish state as its neighbor?
The United States is currently brokering a series of intensive meetings between Israeli and PA representatives, with the goal of bringing peace between the two sides. Many reports have surfaced that these talks are being inexorably guided to lead to the formation of an “interim” PA state, or the destruction of six flourishing Jewish towns in the central Shomron area, or both. Given our bitter experience in Gush Katif – where 22 Jewish towns were razed to make way for Hamas rocket-launching grounds in Gaza – how can we make this same mistake once again and cede precious Jewish homes and communities to an entity that refuses to accept Israel as a partner on equal terms?
It is incredible that after 65 years, Israel is still forced to defend its choice of its millennia-old capital city, in the face of an onslaught led by an ethnic entity whose political and national roots go back barely a few decades, if that. It was only in 1967 that any Arab entity ever suggested creating a new Arab state out of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
(Three years earlier, a “Palestinian Arab” charter was written by a new group called the PLO, demanding a “homeland” not in Judea and Samaria, but in the pre-’67 borders of western Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Negev, and the Coastal Plain.)
Even a leading PLO member named Zuheir Muhsin revealed the non-existent foundations of a Palestinian people when he said back in March 1977, “The existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel…”
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas continues to promise that someday the PA flag will fly over “Jerusalem, eternal capital of the state of Palestine.” The more he says it, the more the international community – and the Arab population of Judea and Samaria – believes it.
Yes, Jerusalem is still not accepted as ours, and our 3,300-year battle continues. Quite obviously, if we do not fight it, we will lose. This is why the upcoming election for mayor of Jerusalem is of such critical import. Whoever is elected, he must work to increase the Jewish presence in Yerushalayim. He must, despite international pressures, build massively all over the city, especially the neighborhoods in areas such as Har Homa, Ramat Shlomo, and others created after 1967, and he must provide sufficient employment and housing solutions to ensure that young Jewish couples do not leave the city, as they have done in droves in recent years.
To help spread the message and ensure that Jerusalem remains Jewish, KeepJerusalem.org invites you to participate in our eastern and northern Jerusalem bus tours. For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.keepjerusalem.org.
About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.
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