Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

Israel: Do Not Hate Arabs!

by Gad Nahshon

Captain Goni Hernik, a great fighter, was killed in June 1982, in Lebanon. His mother, Ms. Reaiah Hernik, wrote a poem which was published in a compilation used in the Israeli official school system: "He was not killed because he hated Arabs... He was killed only because of his love for his beautiful country... and of the army which he believed to be the best army in the entire world. He died also because of his love of his military patrol and its soldiers, the ones that he trusted." She also wrote that her son died for a future peace. Then the story of Goni, her son, will be just a legend.

The idea of a 'fight without hate' is typical to the teaching of Arab-Palestinian-Muslim issues inside the Israeli official educational system. Amos Yovel, a sociologist, an intellectual and a superb editor, the director of the 'Zionist Publication' at the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, was commissioned by the 'Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace,' a N.Y.C. non-profit organization to find out how Arab-Palestinian-Muslim issues or topics are being presented in those books or guides or maps which are being used inside the official Israeli educational system. The result: an illuminating, pioneering, superb research: Report - The Arabs, the Islam and the Palestinians Inside Israeli Textbooks (1999-2000). It should be noted that one can conclude that the Israeli system schools (elementary and high schools) with a student population of one and half million, age 6 to 18, do not preach hate to the Arabs or to the Muslims.

The image of Arab is not a negative one. The report demonstrates the fact that we do not call for hating Arabs. We do not preach death to them. It is an achievement to the Israeli democracy which is under siege, siege of hate, siege of non-stop Palestinian terrorism. Perhaps we should compare Amos Yovel's superb analytical survey, an excellent field research to the hate against Israelis and Jews which one can find in the Arabic educational system. It is hate which is similar to the Nazi propaganda. And anti-Semitism is a great celebration in Syria, for example, inside its educational system. Of course, the climax of hate can be found inside the Palestinian classroom and in their books. Israel is the Satan, Israel for them is a new Nazi entity.

Amos Yovel used 360 books for his research:

1. Books which are used by the Israeli Ministry of Education (official books);

2. Books which are used in schools by the school's own choice;

3. Books which are being used by the ultra-Orthodox system (in Hebrew: 'Haredi').

We should explain that Israel has one centralized educational system (secular and religious) and the 'Haredi System.' 900,000 students (6-18) in the secular official system. (54% - 1999-2000), 260,000 in the religious official system (18%) and 130,000 in the Haredi system (10%). One can see the shift in the last decade from secular to religious enrollment. Israel moves to the right... By the way, Yovel did not survey the Israeli-Arab schools.

Yovel's findings are:

1. All the books, all the systems expressly believe in the Zionist idea, the establishment of a legitimate state, Israel. They believe in Israel as a country of aliyah. We have a moral right to establish a state in Israel. (The books ignore the Revisionist concepts of the post-Zionists!);

2. The books do not try to 'brainwash' the minds of the students (6-18) or to indoctrinate them against Arabs, Muslim or Palestinians;

3. The books do present the contribution of Muslim and Arabs to our civilization. The books produce a positive image of the Muslim religion or the Arab culture;

4. Amos Yovel did not find, in 360 books, any sign of war mongering against Arabs or Muslims! The books do not preach war or violence. The books only express a true quest for peace with our neighbors. Their essence is: 'No more wars, no more bloodshed.' They're the epitome of praying for a lasting peace in the Middle East.

Of course, there are many discussions in these books about the details of the Israeli-Arab conflicts. There are discussions as to the price of the 'peace process.' Indeed, many books tend to ignore the arguments of the Palestinians, as to the main conflict. Some books state that peace is only a dream, since the Arabs will never recognize Israel's right to exist in the region. They will always fight to destroy Israel as a Jewish entity, as a free country.

But all the books, Yovel concluded, believe in the Israeli moral justice which justify its existence as an independent state. Yovel provides the reader with detailed documentary and excellent bibliography. He developed many categories in his 'laboratory.' For example, in 'Maps' he points out that in the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) maps, the West Bank and the Golan Heights are part of Israel. (Israel: 6.1 million citizens: 81% Jews, 17% Arabs, 1.8% Druzes. In the West Bank: 1.2 million residents: 90% Arabs, 9% Jews, 7% Christians).

As to statistics: most books ignore the existence of Arabs in the 19th century Palestine. As to 'hate', many books argue that Arabs view Jews in Palestine as 'strangers' or 'intruders', others state that Arabs are looking to kill the Jews. Some books discuss the historical attempts to have a Jewish-Arab dialogue. For example, the 1919's meeting between Haim Weizman and the Arab Prince Feisal in Akaba (Eilat). As to the refugee problem, most books simply explain that its roots are in the fact that in 1947-48, the Palestinians ran away from their town and villages. These books do not express any regret or sympathy with the plight of these refugees. The books do not develop any sense of guilt, some books relate to those Arabs who did not run. In 1949-50, only 120,000 Arabs lived in Israel.

In some books there are stories which describe the situation in 1948 in Jaffa or Haifa. In one book, the author argues that Israel in 1948 did deport some Arabs but there was not a plan to deport Arabs among the Israeli or Zionist leaders of this era (1947-48). Amos Yovel's findings discuss the issues of the struggle to achieve land. The Zionists bought land and the Arabs have objected to this Zionist pattern. All the books explain that this Zionist practice was the main source of the Israeli-Arab conflict: The majority of the Arabs were poor peasants and they view the buying process of land as robbery. For the Zionists, this process was the redemption of their ancient land. They redeemed the land of Eretz-Israel by paying good money to the owners, the Arab elite, but the masses tend to blame the Zionists for their problems and plight.

As to the many Israeli-Arab wars - in all of these books Israel's actions are presented as a way of defense! The Arabs were always the aggressors who attacked or tried to attack Israel. Israel managed a defensive war or preventing war against its enemies. In a Haredi book all of the ward are defined as miracles. Many books point out that Arabs have always objected to any compromise which will bring peace, which will recognize Israel as an integral part of this Muslim region. Arabs never agree to any concept of an honest and fair division of Palestine (the territories between the sea and Jordan). In 1947 they rejected the U.N.'s 'partition plan' and declared war on the Jews in Palestine and after May 14, 1948, on the new state of Israel.

Amos Yovel contributed to our understanding of the realities of the Middle East. He discussed the set of values and attitudes which Israel likes to pass to the next young generation. He also exposed the complexity of these realities and hopes for peace as well. He also teaches us that the Zionist movement did not cop-out on the Arab issues and did not ignore the fact that Arabs lived in Palestine. But all of the books assume that Jews had the right to make aliyah and settle in Palestine, their ancient land. Israel does belong to the Jews. But Arabs, since 1891, managed a war against this Zionist right.

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