Thursday, August 2, 2012

Zionising the Draft Modern History Curriculum 1

Not content with warping our Middle East policy, interfering with our right to peaceful protest, and intimidating our mass media, the Zionist lobby also seeks to fiddle with our national draft Modern History curriculum:

"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just one area of the new national draft Modern History curriculum that the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) says needs to be changed. Earlier this month, ECAJ executive director Peter Wertheim wrote to the Australian Assessment & Reporting Authority [ACARA] to suggest a number of changes and clarifications to the draft national curricula for both Modern and Ancient History. They include correcting an implication that the establishment of the State of Israel was the main determinant of the deterioration in relations between Jews and Arabs; disputing the phrase 'dispossession of Arab lands'; and questioning why the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty plus all post-Oslo peace attempts with the Palestinians have been ommitted." (Changes required in new history syllabus, The Australian Jewish News, 27/7/12)

To see what's at stake here, nothing less than an attempt at the Zionist brainwashing of our senior history students, I thought it'd be useful to quote in full each of the draft curriculum's dot points objected to by Wertheim (to be found in the unit 'The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East'), reproduce his responses to these, and then critique both. (Please note that, for reasons of space, my critiques will perforce appear non-consecutively over the course of this month under the title above.

Here's the draft curriculum's first dot point: *The British mandate in Palestine and the significance of the establishment of the state of Israel, including the immediate consequences for relations between Jews and Arabs, the Arab-Israeli War of 1948-49, and the nature of the dispossession of Palestinian lands.

And here's Wertheim's complaint: "The first dot point allows for no historical background, conflates several distinct but important matters and draws tendentious links between different events. For example it mixes together 'the British mandate in Palestine' and 'the establishment of the state of Israel' and implies that the latter was the main determinant of the deterioration in 'relations between Jews and Arabs'. In fact, organised Arab attacks against Jews in Palestine began in 1920 and a full-scale civil war against the Jewish population was declared by the Arab Higher Committee (Palestinian leadership) and Arab League following the endorsement of partition by the UN General Assembly in November 1947, a critical event that the draft has omitted. The expression 'dispossession of Arab [sic] lands' carries with it an assumption about rightful ownership which is heavily contested and is a core issue of the conflict..."

My critique of Wertheim is as follows:

1) Mixing together 'the British mandate in Palestine' and 'the establishment of the state of Israel'? What's the problem? The British mandate was the womb from which the state of Israel emerged. Without Britain's facilitation of mass Jewish immigration and land sales to the Jews, its role in supporting the growth of a powerful Jewish militia, its refusal to grant meaningful political representation to Palestine's majority Arab community, and its vicious repression of indigenous Palestinian Arab resistance to Zionist colonization, Israel would never have come into being.

2) Of course indigenous Palestinian Arab opposition to the Zionist project didn't begin with the creation of Israel in 1948. It developed gradually as news of British support for the creation of a 'national home for the Jewish people' (in the form of the Balfour Declaration of 1917) spread among the Palestinian Arabs, and escalated in tandem with increases in Jewish immigration and land acquisition and the incorporation of the 'national home' policy into the text of the League of Nations mandate for Palestine. The indigenous Palestinian Arab population correctly saw their homeland passing into Jewish hands under the protection of British bayonets. Decrying (or expressing surprise at) Palestinian attacks on Jewish colons in such a context is akin to decrying American Indian or Australian Aboriginal attacks on the white settlers who flooded into their lands.

3) Full-scale war against the Jewish population by the Palestinian Arabs following the partition of Palestine in November 1947? This is a monstrous misrepresentation. After 1939, Zionist forces and terror gangs first turned their guns on the British mandate government, forcing the British to hand the problem they had so foolishly created with their 'national home' policy to the UN for deliberation. Then, following that body's outrageous decision to partition Palestine without consulting its people in November 1947, the Zionists turned their guns on the majority Palestinian Arab population in an attempt to secure a Jewish Palestine with as few Arabs as possible. Between December 1947 and May 1948, before the intervention of Arab armies, Zionist forces implemented their notorious Plan Dalet, systematically driving the Palestinians out of their villages, towns and cities, and creating the Palestinian refugee problem that continues to be the nub of the conflict today. The critical event omitted in the draft is the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the Palestinian Nakba, which continued despite the post-May Arab military intervention. (Happily, at least the latter managed to prevent Zionist forces from overrunning all of mandate Palestine in 1948.)

 4) For Wertheim to suggest that the fact of Palestinian dispossession (you'll note that he can't even bring himself to use the word Palestinian, substituting 'Arab' instead) is contestable is a measure of his ideological zealotry and embrace of a long discredited historical narrative. Taking his submission seriously would be the equivalent of the Curriculum Assessment Authority taking seriously that of a flat earther with respect to the science curriculum.

 Finally, here are Wertheim's suggested changes:

"We therefore suggest that the dot point be amended and broken down into two dot points so as to read: *'Ancient historical background to the conflict; the terms of the British mandate in Palestine; the UN General Assembly resolution to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab States (1947); Jewish and Arab responses, political and military. *The end of the Mandate and establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948; the military invasion by neighbouring Arab states of Israel and the territories proposed for the Palestinian Arab State; the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem; the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries and their resettlement."

My critique follows:

1) Ancient historical background? As in God promised Palestine to the Jews? Oh, puh-lease! The 1915 Hussein-McMahon correspondence, in which Britain recognised Arab independence within frontiers which included Palestine, would be more the point.

2) Terms of the British mandate? No problem there, as long as students learn how, by incorporating the 'national home' policy, the Palestine mandate violated Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant.

3) The partition resolution of November 1947? No problem there either, so long as students get to learn about the UN's refusal to refer the matter of partition to the International Court of Justice (ICJ); the sheer chutzpah of handing 56% of Palestine to a recently arrived minority colon community in defiance of the wishes of the indigenous majority population whose right to self-determination under Article 1(2) of the UN Charter was thus violated; and the Zionist-initiated pressure tactics used by the US to swing the vote.

4) Jewish and Arab responses, both political and military? Absolutely, including the Zionist forces' campaign of ethnic cleansing (which, as I've already said, was well under way before the creation of Israel in May 1948, and which continued through to at least 1950); Zionist violations of the terms of the partition resolution, including the overrruning of 22% of the area allotted to the proposed Arab state and the takeover of west Jerusalem, which was supposed to have been administered by the UN; and the overwhelming superiority of Zionist forces vis a vis both those of the Palestinian Arab community and those of the Arab states.

5) The expulsion of Arab Jews? Isn't it amazing? On the one hand Wertheim baulks at the fact of Palestinian dispossession in 1948, but construes the later Zionist campaigns of the 50s to uproot Arab Jews in Iraq and elsewhere as expulsions by Arabs. No, what would be more relevant to the unit would be a) the highlighting of Israel's adamant refusal to implement UN resolution 194, calling for the return of the Palestinian refugees, and b) the large-scale destruction of the refugees' villages by Zionist forces and the later parcelling out of their land, dubbed 'absentee property', to Jews.

This is not to say that ACARA's dot point is perfect. Far from it. Unbelievably, there is no mention of the Balfour Declaration and the circumstances in which it was issued. There is no attempt to contextualise the British mandate and the growth of the Zionist colon community in Palestine as yet another colonial-settler state in the making. Nor is there any reference to indigenous Palestinian resistance to this, in particular the Palestinian revolt of 1936-39. And how curious is the wording 'the nature of the dispossession of Palestinian lands'? The enormity of what befell the Palestinian people in 1948 cannot be swept under the carpet in this fashion: they were dispossessed of their patrimony, their homeland, their homes, lands, bank accounts, businesses - everything - and, virtually overnight, reduced to the status of impoverished, stateless refugees. ACARA's dot point gives this very short shrift indeed. To be continued...

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