Dr. Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli attempt to impose its own educational system on Palestinian schools in Palestine’s Capital, East Jerusalem

Press Releases
August 30, 2013

“Israel has been trying to change the status quo of Jerusalem since its occupation in 1967. In addition to policies of settlement construction and forced displacement, Israel has tried, on several occasions, to impose its own educational curriculum on Palestinian schools."

This act, like many others, is a blatant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. By imposing its educational curriculum on schools in Occupied East Jerusalem, Israel shows that it has no intention of ending its 46-year old occupation, but rather seeks to consolidate the illegal annexation of Palestinian land.

For the past few years, increasing pressure has been applied on various Palestinian schools in the city, including Christian and Muslim schools and other private institutions, in order to change the educational curriculum. Incentives such as raising salaries and subsidies  for schools that adopt the Israeli system were presented with limited success and acceptance. However, this new academic year 2013 – 2014 will witness five important Palestinian schools in Occupied East Jerusalem teaching the Israeli educational curriculum for some of their classes. The schools are Sur Baher Boys School, Sur Baher Girls School, Ibn Khaldoun School, Ibn Rashid School and Abdullah Bin Al Hussein School.

We consider this Israeli step an attempt to rewrite our history and undermine our national identity. We support the actions that are being taken by our student organizations, civil society organizations, parent’s unions and teachers in order to prevent this abhorrent situation from being realized, including their call for peaceful demonstrations.”

Some of the material that the Israeli curriculum for Palestinian children will include is:

  • Maps showing the Occupied State of Palestine, excluding Gaza, as part of the State of Israel. Hebrew Biblical names are used for Palestinian cities (i.e Shkhem rather than Nablus) in order to justify Israel’s occupation.

  • References to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, although this is not recognized by any country, particularly not by Palestine.

  • The Israeli Annexation Wall described as a “security fence.”

  • Despite severe violations to Palestinian rights in the city, students will be taught that Israel is a “bastion of human rights and democracy.”

  • In one section of the book, a conversation between Arab students praising an alleged development supposedly brought by Israel to Palestinian cities. The students conclude by singing the Israeli National anthem in gratitude for all Israel has done for them.

  • Important Palestinian commemorations such as Al Nakba, Independence Day, President Yasser Arafat’s death or the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People are not included in the textbooks. 

Currently there are around 110,000 Palestinian children living in Occupied East Jerusalem. 84% of the Palestinian children in the city live in poverty.

There are 139 kindergartens and 207 schools in Occupied East Jerusalem. Among the 83 private schools, 40 belong to the Islamic Waqf, 18 are private schools, 17 are Christian schools (including Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Armenian and Coptic) and 8 belong to UNRWA, providing education to Palestinian refugees. The Israeli Occupation Municipality has 54 municipal schools and works with another 70 other schools that are recognized by the Israeli Ministry of Education. Currently there is a shortage of 1100 classrooms for Palestinian students in Occupied East Jerusalem, including classrooms that have to be repaired and no less than 400 new classrooms needed.1 Only last week, Israel ordered the partial demolition of a Palestinian Elementary School in Khan al Ahmar, within the Jerusalem Governorate. Needless to say, Israel continues to build settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem, including schools for Jewish settlers, radical Jewish religious schools and a planned Military Academy at Mount of Olives.

  • 1. Israeli Association for Civil Rights in Israel “Failed Grade: East Jerusalem’s Failing Educational System” (2012) p 7.
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