Palestinian and Jewish ignorance
of one another is a root cause of our unresolved conflicts.
At this moment, almost no Jews and almost no Palestinians have ever had an in-depth, sustained relationship with the "other."
We continue to make decisions -- and treat each other badly -- based on incorrect stereotypes, preferring to elevate ourselves while demeaning, blaming, dehumanizing, disregarding and disenfranchising the "other."
Both peoples are settling for -- and even institutionally perpetuating -- ignorance and the resulting, exaggerated fear.
Responsible research continues to
reveal a need for both Palestinian and Israeli educators to discover, tell,
hear and respect the narratives and humanity of both peoples equally.
This is the beginning of healing.
In a leading-edge response, an
international conference has been called for December 17-21, 2006 in
"EDUCATION FOR PEACE EDUCATION FOR LIFE: Peace Education in Israel and Palestine" will be co-chaired by:
Watch for more information on the Web site the sponsoring Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI):
Wednesday, 12 October 2005,
This new generation of balanced history textbooks is described at http://traubman.igc.org/textbook.htm .
The project co-directors are:
Balance the Dialogue with stories of both fine peoples, wherever you live.
You can be part of the end of war, refusing to be enemies.
"An enemy is one whose story we have not heard."
Published by USA TODAY -- Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Professors' history project opens
new chapter for Israeli, Palestinian students
By Martin Patience, USA TODAY
JERUSALEM The year 1948 resonates with Israelis just as 1776 does with Americans as the year their nation was born in blood during a war for independence against all odds.
For Palestinians, 1948 means something very different. It marks the defeat of the Arab armies, the failure of Palestinians to establish their own state and the beginning of exile. It was the year 750,000 Palestinians became refugees in neighboring Arab countries the start of a period they call "The Catastrophe," or al-Nakba in Arabic.
The battle lines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict extend to the classroom, where the two sides' versions of their shared history diverge sharply. Now, two university professors aim to change the way the conflict is taught by exposing Palestinian students to Israeli history lessons and Israeli students to the Palestinian version of history.
The project is the work of Dan Bar-On, a social psychology professor at
The professors say the project is an effort to bridge the chasm between the two peoples. "The way a conflict or history is taught in the classroom can either support that conflict or (support) co-existence," Adwan says. "The project aims to break down the stereotypes and build nuanced understandings."
Says Bar-On: "What we're talking about is the disarming of history, where the teaching of history no longer feeds the conflict."
Aimed at 15- and 16-year-olds, the five-year project produced three booklets, distributed in seven Israeli schools and seven schools attended by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs. The first booklet was published in 2002 in Hebrew, Arabic and English. It covers events in 1948 as well as the Balfour Declaration in 1917, when occupying
Israeli history holds that the declaration was the "first time any country expressed support for Zionism" the creation of a Jewish state in modern-day
The professors' booklet also shows differences over the first Palestinian uprising, which lasted from 1987 to 1993. Palestinian history states as fact that the violence began after an Israeli truck driver "deliberately crashed into an Arab car," killing four Palestinians. Israeli history injects doubt by saying, "the Palestinians claimed ..."
Sonia Nour, 45, a Palestinian history teacher at the Talitha Kumi High School in Beit Jala, a West Bank town, says the project opens the eyes of her students. "The children are not aware of the other side," she says, "and we provide them with that information. We need to clear the road for them and teach them how to study in an open and democratic manner."
Nour says she has had problems with some parents who don't believe their children should learn
Shai Meizlemann, 35, an Israeli history teacher at Democratic High School in Kfar Saba, close to Tel Aviv, says the project touches on issues that are contentious. "Teenagers are often highly emotional, particularly when it comes to teaching the conflict," he says. "But teaching history involves being rational and looking at the other side and the project encourages this."
The second booklet, out this year, deals with the 1967 Six-Day War between
Bar-On and Adwan say writing the booklets was often emotional. "One man's hero was another man's terrorist," Adwan says. He recalls the intense debate about treatment of the
The history project has produced controversy in the classroom, Bar-On says. Palestinian students complained about having to look at the Star of David on
"We need to listen to one another," says Ahmed Mahmoud, 17, a Palestinian at
The third booklet of the series, to go to classrooms next year, will look at more recent events, such as the second Palestinian uprising that began in 2000.
Bar-On says the two professors have tried to avoid attracting the attention of the Israeli and Palestinian education ministries. But eventually they hope the ministries will approve the comparative histories for use in national curricula. Both ministries refused comment.
Bar-On and Adwan say they've become close friends through their collaboration. The events covered in the booklets are deeply personal for both, they say.
For Bar-On, losing a friend in the Six-Day War made him think about the plight of the Palestinians. For Adwan, once jailed for being a member of a political group declared illegal by
PHOTO In East Jerusalem: Students at