Ifrane - Since the the Arab spring burst its way into the news two years ago, the cause of Palestine has been upstaged and virtually expunged from media coverage and political negotiations.
Ifrane – Since the the Arab spring burst its way into the news two years ago, the cause of Palestine has been upstaged and virtually expunged from media coverage and political negotiations.
While Palestine and Israel may have seemed free from the blast of change that has swept over the MENA region, this is not to say that they did not witness any internal revolts. While it may be simply that the media, especially the Arab media, were busy with regional matters of the Arab spring and the uncertain future it would bring to the region, it may also be that the Arab spring has been used as a justification to defend the absence of the Palestinian cause from the Arabic public sphere. If such a justification is valid, the question arises as to what the Arabic, or Islamic, institutions and centres should be doing academically and how they should address the Palestinian cause.
There is no agreement even as to the concept itself of the Palestinian cause. There are on-going clashes between intellectuals. If an author uses the terms “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he or she invariably encounters a wide range of criticism from his/her audience because many consider even mentioning the word “Israel” as a kind of normalization of the relationship between Palestinians and Israel. This phenomenon differentiates the academic field from the political arena, and the difficulty lies in mixing up the two disciplines.
In addition, from my experience, many people, some of them well-educated, do not recognise the difference between the Judaism and Zionism. This poses a dilemma that threatens academia in general and MENA studies in particular. There is a huge gap between one very old Abrahamic religion, Judaism, and one political organisation which established its political goals in accordance with the religious views of Judaism.
Focussing on academia, how do Arabic textbooks represent the Israeli-Palestinian cause? In the World history textbook, which is taught in international universities, there is a basic neutrality in the treatment of the Palestinian cause, but this neutrality has started to change. When a student buys a textbook, as distinguished from a regular book, he or she expects to receive a body of knowledge that is informed and accredited by scholars of certain disciplines.
The educational curriculum is a crucial source of social, political, economic, and religious learning for the new generation. They are the ones who will reshape the future. Thus, the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be treated wisely in the national curriculum of Morocco and other Arab countries. Such conflict should be not excluded from Arab history lessons because the entire MENA region has had a shared history since the dawn of the Greek and Roman empires, even before the spread of Islam.
Unfortunately, while some people defend their opinions with respect to the Palestinian cause politically and academically, others merely reduce the debate to insults and verbal abuse. The conflict should be either presented as a historical event or a political struggle; students may read between the lines the depth of the emotion. In addition, the issue can be studied in the curriculum of the interfaith dialogue. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian population live under the banner of Abraham’s God. If politics has been unsuccessful in resolving the conflict, the religious interfaith dialogue may be more successful.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
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