Jerusalem Arab schools on strike, protesting coexistence in new Israeli textbooks

“Now, they are adding their own content like “Yossi is Mohammad’s neighbor,” about settlements, about coexistence,” fumed an eastern Jerusalem parent.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Arab educational institutions in eastern Jerusalem schools, which are funded by the Israeli government, called a general strike on Monday over textbooks from the Education Ministry that contain facts about Israel’s geography and urge religious tolerance.

The schools cancelled all classes due to “attempts by the occupation government [Israel] to teach their children false and distorted material that suit the Israeli occupation,” according to a statement published by Palestinian Authority-controlled news outlet WAFA.

Ziad al-Shamali, a resident of eastern Jerusalem whose children attend local schools, told Al Jazeera that Israeli “interference” in Arab school curriculums posed a major threat to Palestinian society.

“Now, they are adding their own content like ‘Yossi is Mohammad’s neighbor,’ about settlements, about coexistence,” al-Shamali said. “They have played with textbooks for Arabic, religion, history and [toning down] any national references.”

He added that “it’s likely that we will continue with the strike and escalate it. We will also continue with our protests in front of the schools, and we will call on international institutions to intervene.”

Security blogger Abu Ali Express reported that the material to which the Arab schools had vehemently objected included a statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, an image of an Israeli flag on one page in the textbook, and statements about religious tolerance, such as that “[there are] different religions [in Israel] but all have one God.”

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The statement slammed the Education Ministry for pulling teaching licenses from eastern Jerualem schools that openly promoted violence against the State of Israel and antisemitism. It also encouraged students to honor and commemorate terrorism.

According to the statement, other schools have been sent warning letters that teaching material that incites violence could lead to the closure of their institutions.

The “Judaization and Israelization” textbooks were supplied only to eastern Jerusalem schools, as those institutions receive direct funding from the Israeli government. However, schools in PA-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip also closed on Monday in support of the protest.