It seems that the safest opinion in this country is to have no opinion. Why? Because truth changes. It plays hide and seek. The nearest you can come to an informed judgment would require a serious investigation, digging in archives, interviewing eye-witnesses. What normal citizien has time for that? So we leave it up to journalists, historians, politicians. And the result is chaos.
I was following the saga of the Israeli history textbook “Nationalism: Building a State in the Middle East“, published about two months ago by the Zalman Shazar Center. The book included a controversial chapter about the 1948 War of Independence, written by Dr. Tsafrir Goldberg. After approving it on September 22, 2009, the Ministry of Education has now withdrawn all copies of the textbook in order to re-edit this specific chapter. The “fault” of the book is to provide a breakthrough side-by-side perspective, explicating the Israeli and Palestinian point of view. Heaven forbids.
The publishing house justify the move talking about “cosmetic changes”, a form of “self-censorship”, correcting some “major mistakes” which appeared in the textbook. Specifically, the expression “ethnic cleansing”, in reference to the systematic expulsion of Arabs from the territory, has been removed. Now some have cried to the scandal, saying that feeding our children the point of view of the enemy would be pure sadomasochism. Others point out to the fact that history must reflects different point of views, otherwise it is propaganda. What I would like to see is a softening of the Israelis towards acknowledging Palestinian sufferance, past and present. Like I noted in the previous post (part I), I don’t think this would undermine the right to patriotism or the safety of Israeli children education.
Nevertheless, with the world getting ready to judge Israeli operation in Gaza, this might be too much asking. Because this is, once again, a time of defense.
(I know this will need a “part III”, but not today)