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How Israel deals with education in East Jerusalem | News of Israel

Occupied East Jerusalem – The walls of the Zahwat al-Quds kindergarten and primary school are decorated with colorful cartoons, while their students are dressed in gray and red striped uniforms.

Smiles and laughter of children. through the corridors, belying his lingering anxiety after a recent Israeli attack on the school.

At the beginning of the school year, Israel began targeting Zahwat al-Quds, which serves about 90 students between the ages of three and nine. Beit Hanina neighborhood – because the staff refused to teach the Israeli curriculum, according to parents and school staff.

"Israel wants everything under its control," school co-founder Muna Ateeq told Al Jazeera, speaking under a pseudonym for fear of repercussions.

"They really want to influence education so they can more easily control the next generation of Palestinians."

Permit revoked

There are three types of schools in East Jerusalem: public, private and Palestinian government schools. Everyone has different experiences and relationships with the Israeli state.

Zahwat al-Quds is a private school that had an Israeli permit and funds from the municipality of Jerusalem until July, when Israel abruptly abrogated its permit. Since then, the school obtained a permit from the Islamic Waqf, which is connected to the Palestinian government.

The Israeli permit was revoked as part of Israel's goal of closing Palestinian private schools in occupied East Jerusalem that teach the Palestinian curriculum, and to compel students to attend public schools that are directly controlled by Israel said Ateeq.

In September, three Israeli officials entered Zahwat al-Quds to notify staff that it was closing. They returned last month, searching the classrooms, detaining three teachers and the assistant principal, and photographing some of the children. One child urinated on himself and another fainted during the incident, Ateeq said.

The Zahwat al-Quds school was attacked because the staff refused to teach the Israeli curriculum [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera]

Ziad al-Shamali, who directs an East The Jerusalem parent committee told Al Jazeera that some children they began to experience nightmares and urinate in bed after the attack, citing "lasting psychological impacts". Parents are afraid to send their children to school, he added.

"They can not legally close us, so they press us socially to force us to close" said Ateeq.

According to some Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the attacks on Zahwat al-Quds occur in the context of Israel's objective of systematically depoliticizing Palestinian youths by pushing them into public schools, where Israel can more easily control what They are learning.

"Israel does not want children to learn about what happened here," Ateeq said. "They hope that in the future, everyone will finally forget about that."

Blank pages

Israel did not decide to impose its curriculum on Palestinian schools overnight. According to Samira Alayan, a researcher and professor at the Hebrew University who has been studying this issue for a decade, Israel has tried to control Palestinian education in East Jerusalem since 1967, when Israel occupied and subsequently annexed the territory.

In East Jerusalem public schools, a censored version of the Palestinian curriculum is taught. "When the books arrive in Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities examine them carefully and eliminate the sentences and paragraphs that are against the Israeli ideologies," Alayan told Al Jazeera.

He noted that Israel is "looking for any offensive content for Israel, including the anti-Israel." expressions and any mention of [the] Palestinian Authority. "

The result is that textbooks lack paragraphs and sentences, and sometimes entire pages are blank.Israel considers this censorship as a preventive tool against" incitement " "Palestinian," said Alayan in a 2017 article exploring the issue.

Sawsan Safadi says that Israel wants to "create a new generation of Palestinians who feel that occupation is normal". [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera]

However, "Another purpose could be to prevent students from developing a positive sense of identity based on the Palestinian narrative," Alayan wrote.

"This implicit goal of censorship is another example of a desire to erase or eliminate the Palestinian narrative by the colonialist regime of the colonists. "

This censorship was a compromise for the Israeli state, after the Palestinians in Jerusalem rejected the plan of study. os Israeli during the first years of the occupation. The objective of Israel is to teach the Palestinians that the land of historic Palestine was empty of people when the State of Israel was founded in 1948, and that Arthur Balfour gave this uninhabited land to the Jews.

"It does not teach you" It would be Palestinian, "said Alayan.

Sawsan Safadi, head of public and international relations at the Waqf education department, told Al Jazeera that Israel aims to" create a new generation of Palestinians who feel that the occupation is normal, which will lead them to recognize themselves as Israelis, not Palestinians. "

Imposition of the curriculum

Israel is trying to promote its claims that Jerusalem is part of Israel , instead of being an integral part of a future Palestinian state, Shamali said: "They want to show the world that this is an Israeli city with Israeli schools that even play the Israeli national anthem," said Shamali and added that I Israel it has even changed the names of the streets and the locations to the Israelis in the GPS and on Facebook, knowing that the younger generations depend to a large extent on this technology.

Israel's efforts have been successful, as more than 20 Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem have introduced an option to study an Arabic version of the Israeli curriculum. The identities of the Palestinians in East Jerusalem have been eroded due to their statelessness and their physical separation from the rest of the territory occupied by Israel's separation wall, Alayan said.

The financing and management of schools are completely controlled by Israel, which provides "Israel's control over schools has created a culture of silence, through which people accept things even if they disagree with them. "Alayan said.

Routine Raids

From the second level of the Dar al-Aytam secondary school in the Old City, you can clearly see the golden dome of the rock, but Israeli attacks routinely interrupt this serene landscape.

Israel Police, soldiers and special forces regularly attack the school, allegedly in search of students who have thrown stones at Israeli officials near the school.

Safadi says that such accusations are often false, pointing to several places where it was alleged that the children threw stones; High metal barriers and fencing would make it impossible.

According to the director of the school, Fadi Khalil, Dar al-Aytam was raided more than 10 times last year. During one of these raids, the former director was arrested and expelled from the Old City for 45 days.

"This school is the second largest complex in the Old City after al-Aqsa," Khalil said. "The Israelis have set their eyes on it for a long time, they are working hard to uproot the school in the city."

A Dar al-Aytam staff member shows a picture of a recent Israeli attack on the school [Jaclynn Ashly/Al Jazeera]

An Israeli government spokesman did not respond to Al Jazeera's request to comment on the matter.

As in Zahwat al-Quds, the raids have had an effect: of the 250 students who attended Dar al-Aytam last year, 58 dropped out.

Mumen al-Taweel, 18, was only 14 years old when he was sent to Israel's HaSharon prison for allegedly throwing stones. He spent a year and a half there. "We all want to study, but Israel does not want us to continue our education," he said.

Another student, Amir al-Rishid, aged 16, was arrested for the first time when he was 10 years old for possessing nail cutters. after a search by Israeli forces. Rishid says he has lost count of the number of times he has been arrested by Israel.

"Israel wants us to have police records at an early age, so in the future it will be difficult for us to continue our education or get" This is an intentional policy, "said Rishid.

Tahseen Elayyan, head of the department The monitoring and documentation of the Palestinian human rights NGO al-Haq told Al Jazeera that the raids and attempts to boost the Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools are related to Israel's ultimate goal of expelling the Palestinians from the land.

"Israel wants the land, but not the people," Elayyan said. "The Palestinians who remain in Jerusalem, if the plan to expel the Palestinians from the city is successful, they have to accept the narrative of Israel. ".

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