“This book is dedicated to the memory of the families of the holy shahids”

One might have expected such a dedication to appear in a book published by Islamic Jihad or Hamas. But surprisingly, this book was distributed in courses held by the Israeli Ministry of Education.

The Ministry of Education conducts, via an outside company, first aid courses for Arab and Druze teachers. These teachers are supposed to be part of the first-aid squads in the schools where they teach. During one of the courses, a first-aid textbook written in Arabic contained the following sentence: “This book is dedicated to the families of the holy shahids of El-Aksa, beloved to us for their pure souls.”

One of the teachers who received the textbook is a bereaved Druze father whose son was killed during his army service. The teacher was shocked to read the dedication in memory of the shahids and submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Education. “I was astounded to receive such a textbook as part of a first-aid course for teachers held by the Ministry of Education,” the teacher complained. “As a bereaved father, this hurt my feelings a great deal. I do not understand how the Ministry of Education allowed something like this to happen.”

He claimed that the Ministry of Education asked him not to contact the media and promised to get back to him, but when he received no answer he feared that the subject was not being dealt with, and therefore decided to contact Yediot Ahronot.

The Ministry of Education said in response that an outside company conducts the courses and that its textbooks received the ministry’s approval, but in the case of this controversial book, it is a first-aid text produced by this company and not brought to the ministry for approval. The Ministry of Education claimed that the book was distributed as a private initiative of one of the course instructors. “The matter will be given to the Ministry of Education’s legal department in order to examine this grave matter profoundly,” the response said.

This piece ran in Yediot Aharonot on July 10th, 2005