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Ed Webb

Palestinian schools in Jerusalem strike over Israel-imposed books | Israel-Palestine co... - 0 views

  • Palestinian schools in occupied East Jerusalem are observing a general strike in protest at attempts by Israel’s Jerusalem municipality to censor and edit Palestinian textbooks, as well as introduce an Israeli curriculum in classrooms.
  • “What is worrying the parents is that they are being cornered between distorted Palestinian curriculums and Israeli curriculums,”
  • “There is an Israelisation of Palestinian education going on,”
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  • “Now, they are adding their own content like ‘Yossi is Mohammad’s neighbour’, about settlements, about co-existence,” said al-Shamali. “They have played with textbooks for Arabic, religion, history and any national references”.
  • In July, Israeli authorities revoked the permanent licenses of six Palestinian schools in Jerusalem, claiming that their textbooks incited against the Israeli state and army. They were given permission to operate for a year if the curriculum was edited. The eastern half of Jerusalem was militarily occupied by Israel in 1967 and illegally annexed. Some 350,000 Palestinians currently live in occupied East Jerusalem, with 220,000 Israeli living in illegal settlements among them.
  • The annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognised by any country in the world, apart from the United States, as it violates international law that outlines that an occupying power does not have sovereignty in the territory it occupies.
  • In 2009, the Jerusalem municipality adopted a master plan intended “to guide and outline the city’s development in the next decades”. The vision, as stated in the plan, is to create a Jewish demographic majority, with Israeli Jews making up 70 percent of the city, and Palestinians only making up 30 percent. This was later amended to a 60:40 ratio.
Kate Musgrave

History students fight to use textbook presenting both Israeli and Palestinian narrativ... - 1 views

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    (latest re. an issue noted a little while ago)
Ed Webb

A New History for a New Turkey: What a 12th-grade textbook has to say about T... - 0 views

  • Rather than simply serving as crude propaganda for Erdoğan’s regime, Contemporary Turkish and World History aspires to do something more ambitious: embed Turkey’s dominant ideology in a whole new nationalist narrative. Taken in its entirety, the book synthesizes diverse strands of Turkish anti-imperialism to offer an all-too-coherent, which is not to say accurate, account of the last hundred years. It celebrates Atatürk and Erdoğan, a century apart, for their struggles against Western hegemony. It praises Cemal Gürsel and Necmettin Erbakan, on abutting pages, for their efforts to promote Turkish industrial independence. And it explains what the works of both John Steinbeck [Con Şıtaynbek] and 50 Cent [Fifti Sent] have to say about the shortcomings of American society.
  • Turkey has long had competing strains of anti-Western, anti-Imperialist and anti-American thought. In the foreign policy realm, Erdogan’s embrace of the Mavi Vatan doctrine showed how his right-wing religious nationalism could make common cause with the left-wing Ulusalcı variety.[5] This book represents a similar alliance in the historiographic realm, demonstrating how the 20th century can be rewritten as a consistent quest for a fully independent Turkey.
  • Ankara is currently being praised for sending indigenously developed drones to Ukraine and simultaneously criticized for holding up Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership. Contemporary Turkish and World History sheds light on the intellectual origins of both these policies
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  • Among the 1930s cultural and intellectual figures given place of pride are Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso and John Steinbeck. Guernica is reproduced in an inset about Picasso, illustrating the artist’s hatred of war. (47) A lengthy excerpt from the Grapes of Wrath concludes with Steinbeck’s denunciation of depression-era America: “And money that might have gone to wages went for gas, for guns, for agents and spies, for blacklists, for drilling. On the highways the people moved like ants and searched for work, for food. And the anger began to ferment.”
  • The book places added emphasis on the harsh terms imposed on Germany at Versailles. Prefiguring the later treatment of Al Qaeda terrorism, the intention appears not so much to justify Nazism, but rather to present injustice as the causal force behind violence and cruelty in world politics.
  • the Holocaust instead appears here as one among several examples of Western barbarity
  • The foundation of the UN is immediately followed by a discussion of Israel under the heading “Imperial Powers in the Remaking of the Middle East.” (80-81) The Palestine problem, students learn, is the principal cause of conflict in the region. It began when the Ottoman Empire, “the biggest obstacle to the foundation of a Jewish state,” grew weak, leading to the creation of Israel.
  • Next comes a discussion of the post-war financial order and the International Monetary Fund. Students learn that “the IMF’s standard formula, which recommends austerity policies for countries in economic crises, generally results in failure, chaos and social unrest.” (81-83) An excerpt, which students are then asked to discuss, explains how the IMF prescribes different policies for developed and developing countries.
  • only in the context of the Cold War origins of the EU does the book engage in any explicitly religious clash-of-civilizations style rhetoric. The idea of European unity is traced back to the Crusades, while a quote about the centrality of Christianity to European identity appears under a dramatic picture of Pope Francis standing with European leaders. (112) The next page states that the EU’s treatment of Turkey’s candidacy, coupled with the fact that “all the countries within it were Christian” had “raised questions” about the EU’s identity.
  • Early Cold War era decolonization also provides an opportunity to celebrate Atatürk’s role as an anti-imperialist hero for Muslims and the entire Third World. (122-123) “Turkey’s national struggle against imperialism in Anatolia struck the first great blow against imperialism in the 20th century,” the authors write. “Mustafa Kemal, with his role in the War of Independence and his political, economic, social and cultural revolutions after it, served as an example for underdeveloped and colonized nations.” Atatürk himself is quoted as saying, in 1922, that “what we are defending is the cause of all Eastern nations, of all oppressed nations.” Thus, the book explains that “the success of the national struggle brought joy to the entire colonized Islamic world, and served as a source of inspiration to members of other faiths.” The section ends with quotes from leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Habib Bourguiba about how Atatürk inspired them in their own anti-imperial struggles or was simply, in Nehru’s words, “my hero.” An accompanying graphic shows Atatürk’s image superimposed over a map with arrows pointing to all the countries, from Algeria to Indonesia, whose revolutions were supposedly influenced by Turkey’s War of Independence.
  • Amidst the polarization of the Erdoğan era, what is striking in this book is the authors’ efforts to weave together the conflicting strands of Turkish political history into a coherent narrative. Illustrating Ernst Renan’s argument about the role of forgetting in nation-building, this account glosses over the depth of the divisions and hostility between rival historical actors, presenting them as all working side by side toward a common national goal
  • Selçuk Bayraktar, the architect of Turkey’s drone program, said that as a student “I was obsessed with Noam Chomsky.” [16] During the 1980s and 90s, America sold Ankara F-16 jets and Sikorsky helicopters that were used to wage a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in southeast Anatolia. No one was more critical of this than left-wing scholars like Chomsky.[17] Now, Ankara is selling Bayraktar drones to Ethiopia, where they are being used to kill civilians and destroy schools in another violent civil war.
  • The narrative of national independence also helps smooth over Turkey’s Cold War domestic divides. Students are introduced to the ‘68 Generation and left-wing leaders likes Deniz Gezmiş as anti-imperialists protesting against the U.S. Sixth Fleet in support of a fully independent Turkey. (185-186)[9] In this context, Baskin Oran’s work is again cited, this time quoting Uğur Mumcu on the role of “dark forces,” presumably the CIA, in laying the groundwork for Turkey’s 1971 coup.
  • The book also offers a relatively neutral treatment of political activism during the ensuing decade, suggesting that rival ideological movements were all good faith responses to the country’s challenges. On this, the authors quote Kemal Karpat: “Both right and left wing ideologies sought to develop an explanation for social phenomena and a perspective on the future. A person’s choice of one of these ideologies was generally the result of chance or circumstance.” (202) Thus the authors imply that while foreign powers provoked or exploited these movements, the individual citizens who participated in them can be given the benefit of the doubt. Interestingly, the book takes a similar approach in discussing the 2013 Gezi protests: “If various financial interests and foreign intelligence agencies had a role in the Gezi Park events, a majority of the activists were unaware of it and joined these protests of their own will.”
  • Turkey’s real struggle in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is against dependence on foreign technology
  • a book which begins with a portrait of Atatürk ends with a photo of the Bayraktar TB2.
  • the book’s biases are less in the realm of wild distortion and more reminiscent of those that plague ideologically infused nationalistic history education in all too many countries
  • its exaggerated critique of European imperialism may be no more misleading than the whitewashing still found in some European textbooks
  • At moments, Contemporary Turkish and World History is better aligned with recent left-leaning scholarship than the patriotic accounts many Americans grew up reading as well
  • Throughout the 20th century, America defined itself as the world’s premier anti-imperialist power, all while gradually reproducing many of the elements that had defined previous empires.[11] Today, it often seems that Turkey’s aspirations for great power status reflect the facets of 20th century American power it has condemned most vigorously
  • Turkey’s marriage of power projection and anti-colonial critique have been particularly visible – and effective – in Africa. Ankara has presented itself as an “emancipatory actor,” while providing humanitarian aid, establishing military bases, selling weapons across the continent.[13] In doing so, Turkish leaders have faced some of the same contradictions as previous emancipatory actors. In August 2020, for example, members of Mali’s military overthrew a president with whom Erdoğan enjoyed good relations. Ankara expressed its “sorrow” and “deep concern.”[14] Then, a month later, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu became the first foreign official to meet with the country’s new military leaders. “Like a brother,” he “sincerely shared” his hopes for a smooth “transition process” back to democracy
  • The authors also offer a balanced treatment of the fraught domestic politics during the period from 1945 to 1960 when Turkey held its first democratic election and experienced its first coup. (138-142, 144-146) They focus their criticism on the negative impact of U.S. aid, arguing that Washington intentionally sought to make Turkey economically and politically dependent, then sponsored a coup when these efforts were threatened.
  • certain themes dominate Contemporary Turkish and World History. At the center of its narrative is the struggle for global hegemony, in military, economic, technological and artistic terms
Ed Webb

What High School Taught Millennials About the War on Terrorism - Conor Friedersdorf - T... - 1 views

  • the book was published in 2003, and soon I began to fully realize what that meant. The textbook would serve as a time-capsule for prevailing attitudes right after the attacks. And those attitudes would be frozen in print to inform students for some years to come
  • What follows is an account of the early War on Terrorism told from the perspective of the Bush Administration, often using paraphrased or direct quotes from government officials rather than exercising judgment. "President Bush decided the time had come to end the threat of terrorism in the world," the authors say, as if discussing a plausible proposal that might well end up succeeding.
  • it's as though history itself is synonymous with the narrative that the Bush Administration told Americans
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    Ouch. Did anyone in the class use this book in high school?
Ed Webb

Cultural heritage and violence in the Middle East | openDemocracy - 0 views

  • According to reports of the activist Facebook group Le patrimoine archéologique syrien en danger, all six UNESCO World Heritage sites in Syria have been damaged, major museum collections at Homs and Hama have been looted, and dozens of ancient tells have been obliterated by shelling. In Iraq, recent media stories recount ISIS fighters’ use of antiquities to raise revenues. So-called blood antiquities function as cash-cows, fetching high prices from unscrupulous collectors and netting a handsome cut for ISIS. As devastating as this news is, Syria and Iraq are simply additional chapters in the long-running story wherein conflict is characterised by a two-fold assault on humanity: human bodies themselves as well as the objects and sites that people create and infuse with cultural meaning.
  • So-called blood antiquities function as cash-cows, fetching high prices from unscrupulous collectors and netting a handsome cut for ISIS.
  • Current scholarly discussion on the Armenian genocide, however, focuses almost exclusively on the human destruction, not taking into consideration the systematic annihilation of Armenian sites and monuments that has taken place since then
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  • The destruction of human communities is incomplete without cultural violence. This was the conclusion of lawyer and human rights advocate Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-born jurist who coined the term “genocide” and fought successfully for its recognition by international legal bodies as a crime. In Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (1944), he argued: By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group…[It signifies] a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. (Lemkin 1944: 80) Among the “essential foundations” of the life of human societies, Lemkin argued, were cultural sites, objects, and practices. The Holocaust galvanised his human rights work, but it was the tragic case of Turkish Armenians during the beginning decades of the twentieth century that served as the basis for Lemkin’s theory of genocide.
  • Also significant in this context was the systematic replacement of Armenian place names (on streets, buildings, neighbourhoods, towns, and villages) with Turkish names. The erasure of Armenians from collective memory was completed during the Turkish Republic; in their history textbooks, Turkish children hear nothing about Armenian culture or learn simply that they were enemies of the Turks.
  • the Turkish state and its governments have systematically removed all markers of the Armenians’ civilisation
  • This is cultural death, and it is especially dangerous because it legitimates the denial of diversity by authoritarian states and their societies.
  • Historical records document previous erasures of peoples and their culture: the Native Americans and First Nations of north America; the Mayas and Aztecs of Mesoamerica; and the Roman destruction of Carthage (north Africa), which some scholars point to as the earliest recorded organised genocide.
  • the harrowing plight of Syrian journalist Ali Mahmoud Othman, co-founder of Le patrimoine archéologique syrien en danger. Othman was arrested by government forces in March 2012 and has not been heard of since his televised “confession” in May 2012
  • Recurring Internet images of ISIS fighters beheading western men obscure the equally outrageous and horrific acts of sexual violence against women, torture of children, and destruction of homes, markets, churches, Shi’a mosques, and ancient monuments. All of this constitutes the challenging environment in which cultural activists must do their work.
  • Lemkin’s teachings still have something to say to us today: without monuments and cultural objects, social groups are atomised into disaffected, soulless individuals
Ed Webb

Education Ministry bans use of text book that offers Palestinian narrative - Haaretz Da... - 2 views

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    Qn for discussion: What is there to fear? Why do both the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority seek to control the history curriculum so tightly?
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    *noting in the mean time: a.Ha'aretz's earlier article: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/swedish-mayors-head-to-negev-to-promote-coexistence-program-1.306622 and b.just for fun, the Sha'ar Hanegev community website (most obvious connection to current situation: "security" section and the very last sentence on the page) : http://www.sng.org.il/english-site/first.htm
Ed Webb

Analysis: Has the Gulf reconciled after the Qatar blockade? | GCC | Al Jazeera - 0 views

  • From beginning to end, the blockade of Qatar was a textbook study of a regional crisis in the age of US President Donald Trump and the weakening of the rules-based international order. What amounted to a power play designed to isolate Qatar politically and economically began with the hacking of the Qatar News Agency and the planting of a fake news story purporting to report incendiary comments by Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. This made the chain of events that followed a real-world manifestation of a crisis rooted in the notion of “alternative facts”
  • a series of interactions seemingly intent on appealing to the transactional and unconventional style of decision-making in the White House by creating and amplifying an influence campaign portraying Qatar as a negative actor in regional affairs.
  • By September 2017, the blockade had settled into a holding pattern that lasted for the remainder of Trump’s turbulent presidency
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  • a recognition of flexibility that relations between Qatar and the four blockading states will not all proceed at the same speed or depth. Already, there are signs that ties have improved fastest and farthest with Saudi Arabia and (to a lesser extent) Egypt, which likely reflects the fact that much of the original animosity behind the blockade did not originate in Riyadh or in Cairo
  • hardly surprising that the transition from Trump to Biden also saw the ending of a blockade that would likely never have happened under any other president
  • The failure of the Trump administration to respond to the series of attacks on maritime and energy targets in and around Saudi Arabia and the UAE culminated in Trump publicly distinguishing between US and Saudi interests in the aftermath of the missile and drone attacks against Saudi oil facilities. The 2019 attacks, linked to Iran, punctured the regional assertiveness of Saudi and Emirati policymaking as well as the assumption, particularly when it came to anything to do with Iran, that their interests and US interests were effectively one and the same
  • The blockade of Qatar was the longest rift in the history of the GCC, which marked its 40th anniversary on May 25, and, unlike previous periods of tension, its effect was not restricted to the level of leaders and policymaking elites but encompassed whole nations. Damage done to the social fabric of the “Gulf house” may take longer to repair and memories of the bitterness and rancour on media and social media platforms could linger. For the time being and the foreseeable future, though, all parties to the blockade are likely to establish a modus vivendi at least until the regional or international context changes again
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