BADIL

  • increase font size
  • Default font size
  • decrease font size
Home Annual Al-Awda Award Nakba Education on the Path of Return (Autumn 2009)
Nakba Education on the Path of Return (Autumn 2009)

 Click Here to Download this publication

 

The authors in this issue of al-Majdal, are directly involved in the process of Nakba Education in various places, directing their work at different communities, and their cover cover various aspects of the topic. Rami Salameh looks at curricular education in Palestinian elementary and high-school classrooms and the need to develop the pedagogical methods involved in Palestinian Authority schools, while Said Barghouti examines the way Israeli history textbooks over the past forty years have presented the history of the land to Palestinian students. Dan Walsh examines the way the “Middle East Conflict” is taught to U.S. High school students, suggesting ways that Palestinian poster art can be used to present the students in a more accurate and student-empowering way. Also in the U.S., members of the Palestine Education Project describe their work with students in Brooklyn to learn about the experience of Palestinians and draw connections with their own lived experiences. Nidal al-Azza shares his reflections on teaching Palestinian refugee rights under international law to Palestinian law students. Also looking at education in the classroom, Amaya Galili describes How do we say Nakba in Hebrew? the recently launched Learning Packet developed by Zochrot to teach Jewish-Israelis about the Nakba.

Other authors focus on Nakba education outside of the classroom. Mo'ataz al-Dajani looks at the efforts of al-Jana Center in Lebanon to engage Palestinian children and youth in the writing of their own history by engaging with older generations and with their surroundings, while Rich Wiles describes the educational activities of refugee community centers in the Bethlehem district. A highlight of this issue is an article by Khaled al-Azraq, a political prisoner for the past twenty years, describing the Palestinian prisoners' movement's struggle to educate its cadre.

While the articles in this issue provide a small sample of the forms that Nakba education can take, the experiences and work that they describe offers a useful guide for others engaging in this field. Sharing and learning from others' experiences is one of the ways educators can learn, and this issue of al-Majdal aims to be a contribution to this shared learning process.

In the last issue of al-Majdal, we explored legal avenues for holding accountable Israeli perpetrators and those complicit in violations of international law. All the pending cases discussed in that issue have since been dismissed, whether through legislative intervention (as with the Daraj case in Spain), or findings that the cases were not justiciable or the plaintiff did not have standing (as with the al-Haq case in the U.K. and the Bil'in case in Canada). Once again, Palestinian victims were denied effective remedies because challenging Israeli impunity was judged to be too politically sensitive for the courtrooms of the richest and most powerful countries in the world.

 
In the same period, however, Israeli impunity was challenged by another judge who delivered his team's assessment of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel and Hamas during Israel's military offensive against the occupied Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009. At the end of September, the U.N. “Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict” headed by Judge Richard Goldstone submitted the Mission's meticulously researched report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, including a set of practical recommendations aimed to ensure that Israeli perpetrators will be held to account for the first time. The “Goldstone Report” is assessed in Reem Mazzawi's commentary for this issue of al-Majdal
.

On 29 September 2009, Judge Richard Goldstone submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council in his capacity as the head of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (“Goldstone Mission”).1 The 575 page report was the result of thorough and meticulous research and resulted in a flurry of activity and controversy that included deferring endorsement of the report, civil society mobilization protesting the deferral, and a special session of the Human Rights Council in which the the report and its recommendations were adopted.

Affirming Refugee Rights while Advancing Strategic tools to Achieve these Rights

Upon reviewing Fateh's political program, it becomes apparent the extent to which the Draft Papers on the the Defense of Displaced Palestinians' Rights (the Refugee Paper) discussed at the Sixth Conference of the Palestine Liberation Movement (Fateh), and which were the result of refugee community lobbying efforts at the Conference, were influential. Under the title “Principles,” the political program adopted by the conference included:
 
 

Until recently, with some rare exceptions, writings about Palestine and the Palestinians tended to fall into the general category of the “grand narrative.” Absent are Palestinians as human beings. Instead, when they are murdered they simply become numbers; when they are driven from their homes they simply become refugees; and when they resist the occupation of their land and the theft of their patrimony they are labeled terrorists.
 

What use is it to remember now?”

 
These were the words of some Palestinian elders, as a response to our field team's questions regarding the recalling of the expulsions of 1948, a project that Al-Jana undertook in the year 1998, the fiftieth since the “Uprooting.”

This article is based on my personal experience as a teacher of Palestinian students in Israeli public schools and through my work as school inspector and history curriculum team coordinator for Arab schools from 1975 until 2004. During this period I was engaged in efforts at textbook reform, and on research about Israel's education system which I undertook for my doctoral dissertation.1

Education through Grassroots Arts and Culture in Bethlehem's Refugee Camps

Throughout the 1980’s, and stretching back much earlier, Palestinian civil society represented a grassroots and politicized network of organizations supporting the national struggle and all inalienable Palestinian rights. In refugee camps, active Youth Centers and Women’s Unions worked on a community level often operating as underground collectives gathering people together in an ad-hoc manner wherever possible.

 

Let me start by saying that the role of the Palestinian prisoners' movement in educating its cadre, and thereby contributing to Palestinian “national education” is a large topic, and one worthy of much more discussion and research. As a Palestinian political prisoner who has spent the past twenty years in Israeli jails I would like to highlight some of the general characteristics of the prisoners' movement's struggle to build a system of self and collective education as a central part of developing a patriotic and revolutionary culture that can be a pillar of the liberation movement.

"...I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts..."
- U.S. President Barak Obama in Cairo, June 4, 2009

 
Palestine is not just an Arabic and Islamic question: it is important to many different and contradictory worlds that intersect one another. Working for Palestine means being necessarily aware of such open dimensions… As Mandela kept saying during his own struggle, we must be aware of the fact that Palestine is one of the foremost moral issues of our time.”
- Edward Said, 2002

The same ground you walk on, we do too…

These words, excerpted from a poem written by Tyeema, one of our students, and translated into Arabic for a mural now hanging in Balata Refugee Camp in Nablus, speak to a journey we have been making with students and educators in Brooklyn for the past three years.
 
Drawing on popular education models, and making use of grassroots media tools such as digital stories, hip-hop tracks and poster art, the Palestine Education Project (PEP) teaches a class we call “Slingshot Hip Hop: Culture and Resistance from Brooklyn to Palestine” at a small alternative high school.

 

Intent on introducing Palestine's future legal cadre to a rights-based approach to the Palestinian refugee question, Badil entered a partnership agreement with al-Quds University in the fall of 2007. Since then, Badil's course on “Palestinian refugees under international law” has been one of the courses offered to law students, with larger numbers enrolling each semester. The target group of the Badil law course is university students, particularly law students interested in human rights. It is expected that law students, as part of the student movement that has historically played a major role in the national struggle, will influence their community and contribute to the right of return movement.

 

How should the topic of the Palestinian right of return be dealt with by the Israeli educational system? How should it be approached when the reality in Israel is that the topic is one “we don’t talk about”? How can we start a conversation, get people to listen, overcome objections?

 

 

Flying Home is a touching new children's story produced by youth from Lajee Cultural Center in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, in collaboration with Rich Wiles, a British artist.
 
Thirty pages in length and illustrated with fifteen full-page photographs taken by the children themselves, Flying Home is a complete package. It is exceptionally well produced, an educational tool for young readers of both English and Arabic, and combines a powerful, human message that is neither culturally specific nor heavy-handed in its delivery.

 

by Sadeel al-Azzeh, Balqees Nafez al-Refai, Majd al-Khawaja & Maan Abu Aker
 

 

Adina Hoffman writes in a gripping rich language and with a charming poetic flare. Her avid documentary precision makes her obvious love for the subject of her biographical account and for his family, his surroundings and his people almost suspect, were such evil thoughts not rendered meaningless by her fidelity to the deeper nuances of Taha Muhammad Ali’s deceptively simple and un-classical poetry.

The prospect of writing My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century filled me with a fairly cavernous sense of dread.

 
Arundhati Roy has called Palestine one of “imperial Britain’s festering, blood-drenched gifts to the modern world.” Victor Kattan’s book From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1891-1949 leaves no doubt her description is apt.
 


Events Calendar

December 2014
S M T W T F S
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31 1 2 3