The Palestinian Authority (PA) continues waging a campaign to prevent the introduction of the Israeli curriculum into school in east Jerusalem neighborhoods. The campaign is led by Sabri Sidam, the PA minister of education, who makes extensive use of the fatwaissued by Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and the PA, forbidding the teaching of the Israeli curriculum. The campaign includes practical measures, such as financial incentives for Palestinian teachers in east Jerusalem. Sabri Sidam recently tried to pay an official visit to east Jerusalem, was prevented by Gilad Erdan, the Israeli minister of internal security. Allegedly the objective of the visit was to participate in a ceremony held at the Terra Santa School in east Jerusalem, but in ITIC assessment it was also intended to promote the campaign against the Israeli curriculum.[1]

Activity taken by the PA minister of education to prevent the introduction of the Israeli curriculum into east Jerusalem schools
  • On February 26, 2018, Gilad Erdan, the Israeli minister of the interior, prevented Sabri Sidam, the PA minister of education, from visiting the Old City of east Jerusalem. The stated objective of Sabri Sidam’s visit, who would have been accompanied by Rula Maa’yaa, the PA minister of tourism, was to participate in the ceremony inaugurating the first stage of the EU-funded restoration of the Terra Santa School. The ceremony was held as planned without his participation (Facebook page of the Terra Santa School, February 27, 2018). The PA ministries of education and tourism issued a joint statement saying that “Israel’s hysteria” would not prevent them from fulfilling their duty to Jerusalem (al-Quds, February 26, 2018).
Ceremony inaugurating the first stage of the restoration of the Terra Santa School in east Jerusalem, with the participation of Christian clerics led by the director of the school, Father Ibrahim Faltas (far left) (Facebook page of the Terra Santa School, February 27, 2018).   Ceremony inaugurating the first stage of the restoration of the Terra Santa School in east Jerusalem, with the participation of Christian clerics led by the director of the school, Father Ibrahim Faltas (far left) (Facebook page of the Terra Santa School, February 27, 2018).
Ceremony inaugurating the first stage of the restoration of the Terra Santa School in east Jerusalem, with the participation of Christian clerics led by the director of the school, Father Ibrahim Faltas (far left) (Facebook page of the Terra Santa School, February 27, 2018).
  • In ITIC assessment, in addition to its ceremonial aspect, the objective of Sabri Sidam’s proposed visit was to promote the campaign waged by the PA ministry of education against the introduction of the Israeli curriculum into east Jerusalem schools. On February 27, 2018, the day after the visit was denied, the PA ministry of education reissued the original fatwa of the PA mufti, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, forbidding the teaching of the Israeli curriculum.[2] The announcement of the ministry of education said the fatwa was still in effect, and that distorting the Palestinian curriculum was “a crime of forgery.” The PA ministry of education denounced the activities taken by the Jerusalem municipality against teaching the PA curriculum in east Jerusalem, stressing that it would act to prevent the activities and make them fail.

The fatwa issued by the PA mufti, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, on September 20, 2017, forbidding the use of the Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools in Jerusalem (website of the Palestinian ministry of education, February 27, 2018).
The fatwa issued by the PA mufti, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, on September 20, 2017, forbidding the use of the Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools in Jerusalem (website of the Palestinian ministry of education, February 27, 2018).

  •  On February 28, 2018 Sabri Sidam visited the Gaza Strip, where he was interviewed by Dunia al-Watan TV. He said that “Israel has opened the gates of hell against Palestinian education” [i.e., Israel began a campaign against Palestinian education]. He said the Palestinian government would not sit idly by during the Israeli attack. He claimed Israel’s attempt to “falsify” Palestinian textbooks was a severe blow to human rights and that he had alerted the UNESCO representative to the situation. He called on the international community to stand against Israel’s actions and attempts to distort Palestinian geography and history. He claimed the Palestinians would resist every Israeli attempt to accuse the Palestinian schools of incitement, adding that the Palestinians would “wage this war to the end” (Dunia al-Watan, February 28, 2018).
Financial incentives paid to PA ministry of education teachers in east Jerusalem
  • On March 3, 2018, the Palestinian ministry of education announced a bonus for the teaching staff of the ministry of education in the Jerusalem district for the months of January to June 2017. According to the ministry, in the near future a bonus would be paid for the months of August to December 2017. The Palestinian minister of education said the bonuses represented the ministry’s efforts to preserve [Palestinian] national identity and education in east Jerusalem (Facebook page of the PA ministry of education, March 3, 2018).
  • Previously, on December 20, 2017, the PA minister of education announced that as part of the program to reinforce Palestinian education in east Jerusalem, the ministry would begin paying teachers of the education administration of east Jerusalem financial incentives as part of a comprehensive program to defend Palestinian education (website of the PA ministry of education, December 20, 2017). The PA budget for 2017 allocated 222 million shekels (about $65 million) for educational projects in Jerusalem. At this stage it is unclear how much the PA ministry of education in east Jerusalem will receive in the 2018 PA budget.
Activity of the central parents’ committee in east Jerusalem

Report published by the parents' committee warns that the Israeli curriculum will distort the identity, education and culture of the Palestinian child. It asks, "Which curriculum do you want???" and answers, "The curriculum of my identity. My curriculum. Palestinian" (Facebook page of the committee of the parents of Palestinian students in Jerusalem, February 25, 2018).
Report published by the parents’ committee warns that the Israeli curriculum will distort the identity, education and culture of the Palestinian child. It asks, “Which curriculum do you want???” and answers, “The curriculum of my identity. My curriculum. Palestinian” 
(Facebook page of the committee of the parents of Palestinian students in Jerusalem, February 25, 2018).

  • The central committee of parents of east Jerusalem students manages a Facebook page where it posts articles, messages and videos dealing with the campaign against the Israeli curriculum. Examples are the following (Facebook page of the committee of the parents of Palestinian students in Jerusalem, February 27, 2018):
    • There was a report from Paltoday TV (the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s TV channel) in which a member of the parents’ committee was interviewed. He warned of the danger of erasing Palestinian identity. He displayed Israeli textbooks alongside the special materials the committee had prepared for the textbooks for east Jerusalem schools to strengthen Palestinian national consciousness, for example, a study unit about the battle of Karameh in Jordan.[3]
    • A notice was posted from the PA ministry of education reprinting the original fatwa of Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem, forbidding the teaching of the Israeli curriculum.
    •  Videos were posted of Sabri Sidam, the PA minister of education, and Samir Jibril, the head of the the Palestinian educational administration for the east Jerusalem district, voicing praise for the campaign against forcing the schools in east Jerusalem to teach the Israeli curriculum.
Sabri Sidam, Palestinian minister of education, praises the campaign (Facebook page of the committee of the parents of Palestinian students in Jerusalem, February 8, 2018).   Samir Jibril, head of the Palestinian educational administration for the east Jerusalem district, praises the campaign led by the parents' committee in east Jerusalem.
Right: Samir Jibril, head of the Palestinian educational administration for the east Jerusalem district, praises the campaign led by the parents’ committee in east Jerusalem. Left: Sabri Sidam, Palestinian minister of education, praises the campaign (Facebook page of the committee of the parents of Palestinian students in Jerusalem, February 8, 2018).

[1] Update for the February 5, 2018 bulletin, “The Palestinian Authority, senior Palestinian religious leaders and local figures in east Jerusalem are waging a campaign to keep the Israeli curriculum out of east Jerusalem schools.” 
[2] For the contents of the fatwa, see Appendix C of the February 5, 2018 bulletin about the campaign. 

[3] A large-scale IDF attack against Fatah bases in the Jordanian town of Karameh in the southern Jordan Valley (March 21, 1968). The IDF suffered heavy casualties and the Palestinians regard it as a victory. The battle has become part of the Palestinian battle legacy. 

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