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University of Haifa

University of Haifa - Tsafrir Goldberg's (Dept of Education) Campaign to Teach Israeli Students that Israel's Existence is a Nakba and that Israel Conducted Ethnic Cleansing

Goldberg complains about censorship after the Israeli Dept of Education catches his attempt to sneak claims of Nakba and ethnic cleansing into Israeli high school textbooks. Goldberg uses biased sources with which to make these claims. In Goldberg's opinion, these claims are "not extreme."

"Collecting the books from the shops is an unnecessary [form of] censorship," said Dr. Tsafrir Goldberg, who wrote the controversial chapter on the war. "The process of approving the text was completed in serious fashion from both the pedagogic and the historic points of view. The fact that the education minister changed does not mean that it is possible to bypass this procedure."

On September 22, Haaretz reported that the textbook, which is meant for 11th and 12th-grades, for the first time presented the Palestinian claim that there had been ethnic cleansing in 1948.

"Presenting Israel's claims as being equal to those of Arab propagandists is exactly like presenting the claims of the Nazis alongside those of the Jews," one of them said.

Among other things, the Shazar Center was asked to exchange the original Palestinian text that appears in the book, written by Walid Khalidi, for another that is closer to reality, said Goldberg, who finished making the changes recently.

Another demand was that the term "ethnic cleansing" be redacted. Goldberg says that he changed the phrase and spoke instead of an organized policy of expulsion… "The state has the right to determine the contents of textbooks but this is not supposed to be done by the education minister," Goldberg said.

******

The textbook, "Nationalism: Building a State in the Middle East," was published several weeks ago. It contains a passage stating "the Palestinians and the Arab states contended that most of the [Palestinian] refugees were civilians who were attacked and expelled from their homes by the armed Jewish forces, which instituted a policy of ethnic cleansing, contrary to the proclamations of peace in the Declaration of Independence."

The book presents the Palestinian and the Jewish-Israeli points of view side by side…In summarizing the two versions, the chapter says: "Later historical research has raised a complex picture in which alongside the abandonment of cities there were also incidents of organized expulsion, such as in Lod and Ramle," and that "the flight from the villages frequently occurred following attacks on them by Jewish forces."

The chapter gives three notable sources in its description of events, including Yohanan Cohen, who was a company commander in the War of Independence and later served as a member of Knesset. Cohen recounts that "not only was the flight of the Arabs directed and carried out at the initiative of the Arab leadership, but also the leadership of the Jewish community tried more than once to stop it and prevent it." The second point of view is from the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi, who wrote that 13 operations, carried out, he contended, in the context of so-called Plan Dalet [Pand D] were a historic opportunity for the Jews to cleanse the country of Arabs, and to deny the Arab presence simply by wiping it out. The third source, Benny Morris of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said Plan Dalet gave certain commanders of the prestate Jewish Haganah a free hand to empty strategically key areas of their inhabitants, adding that each unit interpreted and carried out the instructions as it understood them and in accordance with local circumstances. There was no decision, he said, to expel the Arabs from the territory of the Jewish State.

Tsafrir Goldberg, who was responsible for the chapter on the Palestinian refugees, said yesterday: "… I believe one of the ways to develop historical thought is to confront the student with conflicting points of view." He said he did not present the contentions regarding ethnic cleansing as fact but rather as a Palestinian version of events. "It is not extreme," he added, "in my view, to know that someone thinks differently than you do."

 

 

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/israel-pulls-textbook-with-chapter-on-nakba-1.5858

Israel pulls textbook with chapter on Nakba
Education Min. demanded the term 'ethnic cleansing' be redacted from section on War of Independence.

By Or Kashti
Oct. 19, 2009

The Ministry of Education has taken the unusual step of collecting all copies of the history textbook, "Nationalism: Building a State in the Middle East" which was published about two months ago by the Zalman Shazar Center. They will be returned to the shelves only after corrections are made to the text, particularly with reference to the War of Independence.

The book had already been approved by the ministry.

"Collecting the books from the shops is an unnecessary [form of] censorship," said Dr. Tsafrir Goldberg, who wrote the controversial chapter on the war. "The process of approving the text was completed in serious fashion from both the pedagogic and the historic points of view. The fact that the education minister changed does not mean that it is possible to bypass this procedure."

On September 22, Haaretz reported that the textbook, which is meant for 11th and 12th-grades, for the first time presented the Palestinian claim that there had been ethnic cleansing in 1948.

"The Palestinians and the Arab countries contended that most of the refugees were civilians who were attacked and expelled from their homes by armed Jewish forces, which instituted a policy of ethnic cleansing, contrary to the proclamations of peace in the Declaration of Independence," states the text, which presented the Palestinian and the Israeli-Jewish versions side by side.

Criticism about the book was voiced by history teachers.

"Presenting Israel's claims as being equal to those of Arab propagandists is exactly like presenting the claims of the Nazis alongside those of the Jews," one of them said.

On the other hand, another teacher noted that the most important component in studying history is to introduce as many points of view as possible.

Following the newspaper report, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar instructed the ministry's director general, Shimshon Shoshani, to examine the book and look into the process of approving texts in general.

Officials in the ministry said Sunday that an examination carried out by Michael Yaron, who is in charge of history studies, found "a great many mistakes, some of them serious. As a result of this examination it was decided that the original version of the textbook must be withdrawn and returned to the stores only after being corrected."

Among other things, the Shazar Center was asked to exchange the original Palestinian text that appears in the book, written by Walid Khalidi, for another that is closer to reality, said Goldberg, who finished making the changes recently.

Another demand was that the term "ethnic cleansing" be redacted. Goldberg says that he changed the phrase and spoke instead of an organized policy of expulsion.

When the corrections have been completed, the book will be reviewed again at the publishers and in the ministry, before it is given final approval.

"The state has the right to determine the contents of textbooks but this is not supposed to be done by the education minister," Goldberg said.

He noted, though, that some of the remarks were merely cosmetic and did not pose any problem. "The publishing house decided to make the corrections as a form of self censorship," Goldberg said.

Zvi Yekutiel, the executive director of the Shazar Center, said that "the book has to be aimed at the widest possible consensus and not at the fringes on the left or the right. We made a mistake and we are correcting it."

Last month, Yekutiel said that there had been no remarks about the chapter on the War of Independence during the process of approving the book.

He added that "the explicit instruction from the ministry was to include controversial points of view so that the students can confront them and make up their own minds."

Yekutiel said the ministry would pay for the collection of the books from the stores.

The ministry approved the textbook for use in the schools on July 26, after it had been sent to two external assessors - an academic and a teacher.

It was granted approval after an examination of its suitability for the curriculum and its scientific reliability.

The ministry spokesman said last week that, "from the start the book was intended to go into use as a textbook only from this coming January, so the students were not yet exposed to the relevant material. It was decided as well that the director general's circular should be corrected to make it clear that the responsibility and authority for approving textbooks is on the inspectors and coordinators who are responsible for the various subjects taught and who have to examine the books before they are approved and pass on their remarks and instructions."

*************

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israeli-textbook-under-review-for-giving-palestinian-version-of-nakba-1.7505

Israeli textbook under review for giving Palestinian version of 'nakba'
Students unable to distinguish between Arab propaganda and objective analysis, says one teacher.

By Or Kashti
Sep. 22, 2009

The Education Ministry will be reexamining a new Hebrew-language history textbook published by the Zalman Shazar Center that was approved for 11th- and 12th-grade classes. The textbook gives expression to the Palestinian perspective on the Nakba ("catastrophe" in Arabic), which is the Palestinians' term for what happened to them in the War of Independence.

The textbook, "Nationalism: Building a State in the Middle East," was published several weeks ago. It contains a passage stating "the Palestinians and the Arab states contended that most of the [Palestinian] refugees were civilians who were attacked and expelled from their homes by the armed Jewish forces, which instituted a policy of ethnic cleansing, contrary to the proclamations of peace in the Declaration of Independence."

The subject of the Palestinian refugee problem has appeared in the school history curriculum for years. In the new textbook, the chapter dealing with the issue begins with a set of "facts" on which there is almost no dispute: Many Palestinians left the country during the War of Independence, whether because they believed "they would return as victors with the invading [Arab] armies" or because of "the fear of the Israeli forces," and "many others were expelled from their places of residence."

The refugee problem, the chapter says, "became the focus of a number of political and historiographic [relating to the writing of history] controversies" on the causes for the flow of refugees, estimated at several hundred thousand people.

The book presents the Palestinian and the Jewish-Israeli points of view side by side. Immediately following the Palestinian narrative, the Zionist narrative states that "for years, the State of Israel has contended it called upon the Palestinians to stay, and they fled their villages and towns during the war because they were abandoned by their leadership, because of Arab propaganda about atrocities and due to the instructions of the invading [Arab] armies."

In summarizing the two versions, the chapter says: "Later historical research has raised a complex picture in which alongside the abandonment of cities there were also incidents of organized expulsion, such as in Lod and Ramle," and that "the flight from the villages frequently occurred following attacks on them by Jewish forces."

The chapter gives three notable sources in its description of events, including Yohanan Cohen, who was a company commander in the War of Independence and later served as a member of Knesset. Cohen recounts that "not only was the flight of the Arabs directed and carried out at the initiative of the Arab leadership, but also the leadership of the Jewish community tried more than once to stop it and prevent it." The second point of view is from the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi, who wrote that 13 operations, carried out, he contended, in the context of so-called Plan Dalet [Pand D] were a historic opportunity for the Jews to cleanse the country of Arabs, and to deny the Arab presence simply by wiping it out. The third source, Benny Morris of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said Plan Dalet gave certain commanders of the prestate Jewish Haganah a free hand to empty strategically key areas of their inhabitants, adding that each unit interpreted and carried out the instructions as it understood them and in accordance with local circumstances. There was no decision, he said, to expel the Arabs from the territory of the Jewish State.

A Jerusalem-area history teacher said that students cannot be taught the way the textbook presents the material, as they are unable to distinguish between Arab propaganda and objective analysis, adding that the "claims" of the State of Israel cannot be presented as having equal value as those of Arab propagandists. Similarly, the teacher said, Nazi propaganda could not be presented side by side with the Jewish view of the Holocaust. Another teacher from the center of the country, said, however, that "a substantial part of the study of history involves the expression of as many points of view as possible."

Zvi Yekutiel, the director of the Zalman Shazar Center, which published the textbook, said: "We were asked by the Education Ministry to make more than a few changes in the book, but with respect to this specific chapter, nothing was said. On the contrary, the ministry's specific instructions were to present points in controversy, so the students can confront them and form an opinion." Yekutiel added that "on second consideration, the anger that the chapter engendered can be understood. If they tell us to revise a few pages, it won't be a problem and the changes will be made in the second edition. Textbooks need to reflect the broadest consensus. I work for the mainstream."

Tsafrir Goldberg, who was responsible for the chapter on the Palestinian refugees, said yesterday: "The publisher has the right to make any decision." He added that "as a researcher in the field of education, I believe one of the ways to develop historical thought is to confront the student with conflicting points of view." He said he did not present the contentions regarding ethnic cleansing as fact but rather as a Palestinian version of events. "It is not extreme," he added, "in my view, to know that someone thinks differently than you do."

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