PM Olmert backs Tamir proposal to add Green Line to textbooks
Rightist rabbis ban use of schoolbooks showing pre-1967 borders after call by education minister to update maps.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday he has spoken with Education Minister Yuli Tamir regarding her proposal to include the pre-1967 boundary, or Green Line, in maps that appear in school textbooks. Many MKs have sharply criticized Tamir's recommendation.
"There is nothing wrong with marking the Green Line," Olmert said. "But there is an obligation to emphasize that the government's position and public consensus rule out returning to the 1967 lines."
The Likud faction introduced a no-confidence motion to the Knesset Tuesday over Tamir's proposal, charging the minister with introducing politically-motivated changes to the national curriculum in line with what they called her extreme leftist ideology. They added that the proposal ignores Israeli law, including the Jerusalem Law and Golan Heights Law.
"This is not a political issue, but rather an educational one," Tamir said Tuesday. "We teach, for instance, about United Nations Resolution 242, but we don't show students the Green Line. We cannot deny that there used to be a border that is still being debated today."
Meanwhile, an organization of right-wing rabbis on Tuesday issued a Halakhic decree forbidding students from using schoolbooks featuring maps of Israel which include the pre-1967 Green Line border, Israel Radio reported.
Tamir defended the decision as the only way to teach students the basis of the region's politics, but her order came under fire from a number of right-wing groups.
Chairman of the National Union-National Religious Party Zevulun Orlev criticized Tamir's decision, saying she was imposing her "Peace Now" ideology on the ministry.
Tamir said Israel could not demand of its Arab neighbors to mark the June 4, 1967 borders, while the Israeli education system erased them from its textbooks and from children's awareness.
MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), formerly the Director-General of the Education Ministry, also criticized Tamir, saying that she does not possess the authority to issue such an order.
"The education minister in not permitted to interfere with the content of textbooks, and should also have consulted the other members of the Knesset before making such changes," Tirosh said Tuesday.
Professor Yoram Bar-Gal, head of Geography and Environmental Studies at Haifa University, said Tamir's directive to bring the Green Line back to the maps would be hard to follow. He said that most of the textbooks are issued by private publishers who would not be keen on changing the plates at their expense.
Two years ago Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, a lecturer in language and education at Hebrew University, published research on six study books that had been published after the Oslo agreement. Some of these books were officially endorsed by the Education Ministry. Many teachers adopted other books even without the ministry's approval.
Her main findings included the disappearance of the Green Line and Arab cities in Israel from the maps in these books, and their presentation of sites and settlements in "Judea and Samaria," rather than in the "West Bank," as an integral part of Israel.