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.
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
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?”
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
"...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
The same ground you walk on, we do too…