Nakba Removal From Classrooms Spurs Threats

Israeli Arab leaders threatened to “revolt” after Israel’s education chief said the word Nakba would be removed from their classrooms.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar made his announcement Sunday as part of a briefing on the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Nakba, which means catastrophe in Arabic, is used in the Arab community to describe the birth of the State of Israel.

School begins Tuesday throughout Israel.

“[T]he word Nakba, whose meaning is similar to Holocaust in this context, will no longer be used,” Sa’ar said. “The creation of the State of Israel cannot be referred to as a tragedy, and the education system in the Arab sector will revise its studies in elementary schools.”

A textbook teaching the Nakba in third-grade Arab classes was introduced two years ago by then-Education Minister Yuli Tamir of the Labor Party.

The Follow-Up Committee on Higher Education, which represents the Arab public on education issues in Israel, at a news conference Monday said it rejected the decision and would refuse to implement it in Arab schools.