Palestinian schools in Jerusalem strike over Israel-imposed books | Israel-Palestine conflict News

Occupied East Jerusalem – Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem are witnessing a general strike in protest at attempts by the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem to censor and edit Palestinian textbooks and introduce an Israeli curriculum in classrooms.

Hundreds of schools closed their doors on Monday morning — the latest in a series of recent moves led by parents in recent weeks, including protests and a refusal to teach Israel-imposed textbooks.

In a joint press release on Sunday, the United Parents’ Committee and the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces in Jerusalem called for a full-scale strike and international institutions to step in to protect Palestinian education.

Journalists and local residents shared dozens of images of empty classrooms and closed schools on Monday morning.

Ziad al-Shamali, 56, leader of the Parents’ Committee union, told Al Jazeera that if Israel’s efforts succeed, it will “have control over the education of 90 percent of our students in Jerusalem.”

According to al-Shamali, there are more than 280 Palestinian schools in Jerusalem with about 115,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. He claimed that about 90-95 percent of the schools were watching the strike.

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Al-Shamali said Israel has been attempting to impose a “distorted version of the Palestinian Authority (PA) curriculum” on Palestinian private schools since the beginning of the year.

“They are doing this under the pretense of licensing and funding private schools,” said al-Shamali, who lives in the al-Tur neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

Existing community-run schools for Palestinians in the city have already begun teaching the modified version of the PA curriculum, he continued, while new schools built by the community will be forced to teach the Israeli curriculum .

“What worries parents is that they are being cornered between distorted Palestinian curricula and Israeli curricula,” al-Shamali said.

“There is an Israelization of Palestinian education taking place,” he continued, that has existed for the past 10 to 12 years but has intensified in the past three years.

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“Now they’re adding their own content, like ‘Yossi is Mohammad’s neighbor,’ about settlements, about coexistence,” al-Shamali said. “They played with textbooks on Arabic, religion, history and any national reference.”

On Sunday evening, videos were shared on social media of local residents hanging up posters reading “General strike – yes to the Palestinian curriculum, no to the distorted curriculum.”

In July, Israeli authorities revoked the permanent licenses of six Palestinian schools in Jerusalem, claiming their textbooks incited against the Israeli state and army. They were given permission to work for a year if the curriculum was changed.

The eastern half of Jerusalem was militarily occupied and illegally annexed by Israel in 1967. About 350,000 Palestinians currently live in occupied East Jerusalem, including 220,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements.

Today, 86 percent of occupied East Jerusalem is under the direct control of the Israeli government and settlers.

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The annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by any country in the world except the United States because it violates international law, which states that an occupying power has no sovereignty over territory it occupies.

In 2009, Jerusalem’s city government approved a master plan designed to “guide and outline the city’s development over the coming decades.” The vision, as stated in the plan, is to create a Jewish majority population, with Israeli Jews making up 70 percent of the city and Palestinians only 30 percent. This was later changed to a 60:40 ratio.

Al-Shamali said the parents’ committee plans to protest further or escalate its actions if its demands are not met or if Israeli authorities begin to enforce the amended textbooks by force.

“We will probably continue and escalate the strike,” he said. “We will also continue our protests in front of the schools and call on international institutions to intervene.”

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