Fury as Israeli textbook admits expulsions
BEN LYNFIELD IN JERUSALEM
ISRAELI right-wingers are furious at the acknowledgement in a new schoolbook that Palestinians were forcibly expelled when Israel was established in 1948.
They claim it undermines Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish nation state.
Zevulun Orlev, the leader of the National Religious Party, called on the education minister, Yuli Tamir, to step down after she gave the go-ahead for the new textbook, which is much more honest about the 1948 war than many Israelis are.
"Some of the Arab residents were forced to leave their houses and some were expelled and became refugees in the neighbouring Arab countries," the book says.
The book says that what for Jews was a fight for Israeli independence was for Arabs "a catastrophe, a war of disaster and loss".
The departure from the official Israeli version that all Palestinians ran away during the 1948 fighting rather than being evicted, as many were, comes in a book called Living Together in Israel that is being introduced into schools among Israel's Arab minority this September.
Ms Tamir, a founder of the Peace Now movement and veteran Labour party MP, said the book "gives a balanced picture that enables the Arab pupil to read about his story. One shouldn't expect that the Arab student will connect with a text that says the state of Israel was born and everyone danced in the streets".
Taleb al-Sanaa, an Arab MP, termed the new text "a significant step".
"In order for there to be historical reconciliation we need an end to the brushing aside and ignoring of what happened during the  catastrophe," he said.
Dalia Fenig, an education ministry official, said the text was not being introduced into textbooks for Israeli Jewish eight-year-olds.
Right-wing politicians have reacted furiously to the book. "This is an anti-Zionist decision, which erases Jewish history and denies that the state of Israel is a Jewish state," said Mr Orlev.
Limor Livnat, a former education minister from the right-wing Likud party, said: "The moment that you teach pupils in the Arab sector that Jews expelled them from their homes and that the establishment of Israel was a catastrophe, they are liable to learn from this that they should undertake armed struggle against the state of Israel.
"The result will be that under the generous sponsorship of our education system, we will with our own hands be raising a fifth column here."
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