Jerusalem: Israeli Colonization of Land and Minds!!

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

During the four decades and half of the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the consecutive Israeli governments adhered to the same systemic policies to shrink the number of Palestinians residing in the city and to drive them out by all means possible. The far right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is conducting a focused and transforming drive with the intent to change the indigenous structure of population in East Jerusalem to give it a Jewish status. This colonial Zionist drive is expanding the Holy City limits to include all the major colonial settlements surrounding Jerusalem as a first step, then, expanding and beefing up the current settlements/ colonies in addition to the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes under the guise of “building expansions without permits”. Indeed, Jerusalem is now surrounded by a belt of Israeli colonial settlements steadily growing like metastatic cancer cells, despite being considered illegal by the international community.  This Israeli agenda is not restricted to Palestinian lands, but its sinister drive intends to control Palestinian minds, as well, by changing the educational books in Jerusalem schools to eradicate Palestinian history, while physically confining Palestinian presence within disjointed cantons.

 The Israeli school system is teaching Palestinian students in Jerusalem and the territories of 48 that “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people” and “Palestinians are only temporary guests in the land of Israel”. But what is worst is teaching those students all the fabricated myths which the scribes (during the exile in Babylon) added to the Torah when it became a written book instead of “oral traditions” for more than 700 years, according to Biblical scholars, Jews and Christians. The educational Israeli system is implanting in the minds of Palestinian students that it is “only a matter of time when the true Jewish temple shall replace the existing (Muslim) one in Jerusalem”, to make them “give up hope”. In fact, continuing in its aggressive drive to eradicate the Palestinian identity of occupied Jerusalem, the Israeli Municipality is preventing building new schools for Palestinians,  expanding the existing ones and attempting to take control of their private schools. Many fear that the Israeli curricula will replace the Palestinian one in Jerusalem during the current scholastic year. Such a replacement is intended to wipe out the national Palestinian cultural aspects and distort historical facts by replacing them with fabricated fables.  Stressing the plight being faced by Palestinians in Jerusalem, the director of the curricula department in the Palestinian Ministry of Education, Dr. Jihad Zakarna, recently said that the Israeli occupying authorities and the Israeli Ministry of Education had committed “aggressive measures against the Palestinian curricula in various ways by wiping out and deleting whole sections pertaining to the Palestinian history and identity with black ink”. He warned that “all maps, drawings and pictures in our printed books pertaining to the Arab Palestinian identity of Jerusalem, including the national Palestinian anthem and the mention of Palestinian martyrs, are now considered violations of Israeli laws which will legally jeopardize our Ministry of Education and the authors of our books, as well”. Along the same lines, the secretary general of the Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs, Dr. Abdullah Kanaan, said that all Palestinian schools in occupied Jerusalem are under “the direct control of the Israeli Minister of Education and under the observing eyes of the Municipality of the occupied city”. This includes 52 schools of secondary level consisting of 38820 students representing 47% of all Palestinian students in Jerusalem with 1700 teachers.  Islamic endowments only manage 39 schools with 12400 students and 732 teachers. There are 69 private schools with 24110 students equaling 29.22% of the total with 1429 teachers, equaling 36.7% of the total number.  UNRWA only manages 8 schools with 2442 students (2.96%) with 147 teachers. Kanaan concluded that “It is clear that the Israeli occupying authorities control the vast majority of Palestinian schools, a danger posed to education, threatening Palestinian existence in Jerusalem”.

National Palestinian groups and activists are in continuous struggle against the Israeli designs to wipe out Palestinian historical and cultural identities in Jerusalem. In their struggle to protect and preserve the Christian, Islamic and Arab heritage and character of Jerusalem, the Palestinians shouldn’t be left alone, as they desperately need help from all Arabs and Muslims to preserve the Palestinian schools in Jerusalem. Arab Jerusalemites need urgent help to protect and maintain their houses and properties in Jerusalem which are being heavily taxed by the Israeli government to force them to sell. Arab Ministries of education are called upon to help in various ways, such as training teachers and upgrading the Palestinian educational curricula. On a different level, the International law and the principles that founded the United Nations (which created the state of Israel) absolutely prohibit any demographic changes in the Palestinian occupied territories. The United Nations and the international community are morally and legally obliged to stop the Israeli occupying authorities from wiping out the Palestinian history and culture including the Christian and Islamic identities of occupied Jerusalem which is the very heart of historical Palestine. The Judaization of the Arab Holy City (occupied by Israel in 1967) is only a prelude to the Judaization of all historical Palestine. The ongoing demographic changes attest to such a design, because Israel will never tolerate the fact that Palestinians will be the majority in historical Palestine in the next 20 years, an almost realistic projection viewed by die-hard Zionists as a deadly eventuality to their “Jewish state”!