(Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem launched a strike on 19 September in protest of Israel’s local municipality censoring educational textbooks and introducing an Israeli curriculum in classrooms.
Hundreds of schools across Jerusalem shut their doors in the morning, as teachers protested against using the Israeli-imposed textbooks.
A day prior, the Palestinian National Forces in Jerusalem and the unified parents committee both demanded that international institutions get involved and protect Palestinian education, during a joint press conference.
Ziad al-Shamali, head of the parents committee union, told Al-Jazeera that if Israel’s demands are passed, it “will have control over the education of 90 percent of our students in Jerusalem.”
Al-Shamali added that the Israeli government has been trying to impose a “distorted version of the Palestinian Authority (PA) curriculum” on private schools since the beginning of the year.
According to reports, there are 280 Palestinian schools in Jerusalem, containing 115,000 students from kindergarten to grade 12. Approximately 90-95 percent either observed or participated in the strikes.
Earlier this year, the EU announced that it would not pay its annual financial aid to the PA due to objections raised by a Hungarian EU delegate over the content found in school textbooks.
Oliver Varhelyi, a Hungarian delegate to the EU, proposed that annual aid to the PA be frozen until materials allegedly promoting “antisemitism” and “incitement” are removed from school textbooks used within the PA school system.
In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) published a “working definition” of antisemitism, which includes labeling any criticism of Israel and its government policies as antisemitic.
Palestinian textbooks will remain categorized as allegedly antisemitic until they remove any criticism of Israel and its policies.
The IHRA working definition is controversial among academics and intellectuals, who believe it constitutes an attempt to silence any condemnation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Large groups of academics have signed open letters against this definition.