ACARA's final dot points, nine and ten, provide excellent scope for students to acquire a critical overview of the Middle East conflict.
The ninth reads as follows:
"The consequences of the involvement of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union in the Middle East over the period, on both the continuing conflict and the peace process."
As far as Britain is concerned, the key lesson for students is that, without Britain and its seriously dumb and immoral Balfour Declaration of 1917, there would be no conflict because no Jewish state. As that incomparable moral compass, JMN Jeffries, solemnly reminded his countrymen back in the thirties:
"All we can do, and must do, is to see that any settlement is in accordance with the Arabs' rights. Justice, and not expediency of any kind, must guide us. We must avoid particularly false solutions based on forgiving all round in Palestine, based on Arabs and Zionists and Britons being deemed as involved in a common misfortune and upon their all starting afresh, under some scheme which will be the old scheme disguised. Forgiveness all round is, as a doctrine, only a label for forgiving ourselves. We are no victims of circumstances in Palestine along with the Arabs and the Jews. We made the circumstances: we, by the acts of our rulers, and we alone, are primarily responsible for the state of that country, and there must be no self-absolution proposed by us." (Palestine: The Reality, 1939, p 711)
With the United States, an excellent opportunity exists for students to compare the US's first intervention in Levantine politics, President Wilson's admirable King-Crane Commission of 1919, with the escalating rise in US support for Israel beginning with President Truman in 1948 and the hijacking of US Middle East policy today by the Israel lobby (AIPAC and Zionists embedded in government administrations, with GW Bush's neocons being only the most egregious examples).
By contrast with Britain and the US, the Soviets were only ever bit players in the Middle East conflict.
And here's the tenth and final dot point:
"Interpretations and representations of conflict in the Middle East, including those of participants, observers, international agencies and foreign governments."
There is scope here for exposing Israel's dominant Zionist narrative as a false historical narrative by placing the Zionist project in Palestine squarely in the context of the rise of European nationalisms and settler-colonial movements, and for viewing the Middle East conflict correctly as an ongoing, unresolved colonial conflict.
ECAJ's Peter Wertheim has chosen not to comment on either of these two dot points, adding only the following remark:
"We would also suggest that an item be added about the core issues of the Israel-Palestinian conflict (Israel's right to exist, Palestinian statehood and borders, settlements, Jerusalem, refugees, water rights, security arrangements) and polling and other evidence of public attitudes to those issues on each side (eg Tel Aviv University's 'Peace Index' and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)."
This suggestion, if taken up, would conveniently focus students' attention on Israel's current wet dream: Palestinians abandoning their inalienable right to 78% of their historic homeland, with an apology for ever having bothered its 'real' owners in the first place; as much of the occupied Palestinian territories as Israel can squeeze out of the current bunch of Palestinian quislings known as the Palestinian Authority, allowing, if that, for a Swiss cheese statelet hemmed in on all sides by Israeli forces and settlements; an undivided Jerusalem; Palestinian refugees remaining in situ in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan or farmed out further afield; Israeli control of West Bank aquifers; and Palestinians forswearing forever the right to bear arms.
Except that that isn't really Israel's wet-dream. Israel's real wet dream is still that of Theodor Herzl's: the spiriting of a penniless [Palestinian Arab] population across the border.
That concludes this 7-part series. I will of course be running a critical eye over this part of the final senior history curriculum when it finally emerges to see whether any of Wertheim's wish list has been incorporated. Watch this space.