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Israeli Arabs will distribute 20,000 booklets on the Nakba - the "catastrophe," what happened to the Palestinians after 1948 - outside of schools in Arab settlements throughout the country.

The booklets, which were written by 150 Palestinian children in Israel, the Palestinian territories and Syria and Lebanon, are part of an initiative by the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies (ICDS) in the northern town of Tamra to "reaffirm Palestinian consciousness, and maintain and reinforce it among future generations."

Dr. Asad Ghanem, the chairman of the ICDS, told Haaretz yesterday that the project is the first of its kind to involve Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, and Lebanon and Syria.

"There's a double message here: Firstly, that we are one people with one Nakba; secondly, that the status of the Palestinians in Israel supports the Palestinian national movement," Ghanem, a senior faculty member at the University of Haifa, said. "There are fields in which we don't need to wait for the Jewish establishment, and one of these is education."

The booklets have been criticized by some Israeli Arab educators for not providing an Israeli side of events. For instance, the booklets mention the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan was passed with "strong U.S. backing," but failed to mention that it also received Soviet support. In addition, it does not state that the plan was accepted by the Jewish leadership while it was rejected by the Palestinians.

"This is catastrophic and will only lead to increased tension," an Israeli Arab educator said. "This booklet is exactly what the Islamic Movement would like to hand out."

The booklet discusses events like the Deir Yassin massacre, in which Jewish paramilitary troops killed about 120 Palestinian villagers, and refers to the separation fence as ethnic cleansing. "Only after the Palestinians become more familiar with their own narrative can we discuss others," Ghanem said.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry said it had not been consulted on the booklets, which received no ministry support.