Israeli Control over Palestinian Schools within the Green Line

By Nadim Nashif
Submitted to Session P4322 (Success as Subjugation: Palestinian Education under Settler Colonialism, 2016 Annual Meeting
LCD Projector with Audio Patch or Speakers;
Beginning as early as the 1950’s the Israeli state openly implemented educational policies that serve to control, alter and fragment Palestinian identity and divide the Palestinian community on historical, cultural and sociopolitical levels. Although Palestinian schools within the Green Line (and lately East Jerusalem) are part of a separate Arab education system – the state and its Israeli official bodies continue to control and censor the history, literature, and politics taught to students within their schools. Education has thus been used as a main tool to build a generation of “Arab Israelis” who would be loyal to the state of Israel, recognizing and accepting their status as a minority without the desire to challenge policies that work against their own best interests.

This paper argues that Israel mobilizes its control over Palestinians schools for three main purposes: to distance Palestinian youth from their history and identity, from other Palestinians, thereby strengthening sectarian tensions between them, and from the broader cultures of the Middle East. One of the most prominent examples of changing identity narratives, and sectarianism being promoted through education is that of the Druze Community. The Druze have gradually come to be considered a distinct “national minority” within Israel, disconnected from the rest of the Arab Palestinian society, after a series of government policies were introduced to direct and manipulate the Druze identity/awareness away from its Arab roots. These policies include creating a separate education system for the Druze community outside of the Arab school system, aggressively recruiting Druze teenagers to the Israeli Army, and establishing a local religious court system as well as local holidays specific to the Druze. After successfully creating a rift between the Druze and the rest of the Palestinian community, these same tactics are currently being employed to target Palestinian Christians. A newly published civic education book states that the majority of Palestinian Christians are “not indeed Arab Palestinians” but rather of “Aramaic origin,” bifurcating them from the broader Palestinian population.

This paper will closely examine Israeli educational policies towards Palestinians and its links to state strategies and imperatives of separation and subjugation. Using the case of the youth organization Baladna and its various pedagogical programs, this paper considers the potentialities of autonomist educational and curricular counter-strategies, and the ways in which such practices can or cannot push against the social reproductive aims of Israel and other settler colonial states.