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Teaching The Middle East Conflict

Click here to see Texas Coalition for Human Rights presentations teaching about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

TXCHR is concerned that the curriculum provides such a one-sided perspective that it discourages students from truly understanding the Israel/Palestine conflict and American support for human rights.

'Arab Rejection of Israel'

The curriculum asks students to explain how Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict.  Such a framing of the situation is biased and discourages students from learning the deeper issues such as why most of the world opposes Israeli policies except for the United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau and a few other countries in different situations.

The curriculum does not cover continuous Israeli human rights violations and its violation of the Geneva conventions.

Human Rights

Human rights are a significant factor related to the conflict in Israel / Palestine since Palestinians still represent the largest number of refugees in the world, over 70 years after the first Palestinian refugees were expelled from their land.  Today, Palestinians still do not have equal rights, face expulsion from their own homes and land.  This does not appear in the Texas curriculum yet is integral to understanding the situation.

Israel is the only country in the world that systematically charges children in military courts violating international law by torturing children and interrogating them without a lawyer or a parent.  Israel has also been in violation of the Geneva Conventions for decades further violating human rights of civilians.  The Texas curriculum does not cover the over 50 year occupation and how that impacts the lives of people in a so-called democracy.

The curriculum expects students to "summarize the development and impact of radical Islamic fundamentalism on events in the second half of the 20th century" yet does not expect students to explain the events, including state terrorism, non-Islamic religious terrorism, and violation of human rights that led to the founding of some of these organizations and which fuels their growth.

American Ideals And Human Rights

The curriculum states in section 113.42 World History Studies (c)(21)(F): "identify examples of American ideals that have advanced human rights and democratic ideas throughout the world".

We applaud the board for including the parts of our history that make us proud.  It is important for students to learn for example that the United States, through Eleanor Roosevelt's leadership, was instrumental in writing the Declaration of Human Rights.  This then led to another important foundational agreement also codifying human rights: the Geneva Conventions.

Critical thinking is a skill that we need to develop in our students for their long term success and for the benefit of our country.  To do so, students need to learn where  and how we have deviated from our ideals so that their generation does not repeat less favorable parts of our history .  For example, it is important that they know that the United States has participated in the demise of democratically elected governments in Central and South America and Iran.

Teaching the history where we don't always shine provides a great example for Texas students to learn to stand in integrity, to face criticism and to continually strive to improve while being willing to look in the mirror.

It is important that students understand the motivations of all parties involved and hear from each of the sides so that students can learn to make decisions on their own from the real facts.  Students should be taught to ask each side what their motivations are, why they take the actions they do, and encourage students to determine for themselves what is true.

Without such knowledge and exposure, TXCHR members believe that Texas and other students will be deprived of skills needed to become future leaders and citizens of the world.