The Nerve! Rewarding a Palestinian Teacher Who Incites to Nonviolence!

How dare they give the Global Teacher Prize to a Palestinian who’s showing her students how to endure Israel's occupation in peace?

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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A Palestinian student takes a selfie with teacher Hanan al-Hroub, who won a $1 million education award.
A Palestinian student takes a selfie with teacher Hanan al-Hroub, who won a $1 million education award.Credit: Reuters
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

There could be no better proof of the existence of an anti-Semitic plot than the award of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize to Hanan al-Hroub, a teacher from the Deheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank who created a curriculum entitled “No To Violence.”

What a disappointment. What a frustration. True, no Israeli was a candidate for the prize, and even if one had been, he or she would certainly not have been invited to Dubai – home of the Varkey Foundation, which grants the prize – to receive it. But to so blatantly and crudely destroy our strategy of alleging Palestinian incitement against Israel? To give that Palestinian woman a propaganda weapon that depicts her people as fans of nonviolence, as people striving to diminish the rage and tension, the anger and hatred and offering an alternative to stabbings and terror attacks?

How could the prize jury have ignored what is happening in the streets? How did it dare give $1 million, the monetary equivalent of the Nobel Prize, to someone who, in the end, is merely teaching children to live through the occupation in safety?

The pope, the British prime minister and other dignitaries hastened to congratulate Hroub on her prize, but Israel won’t fall into that trap. Not a single cabinet minister – not even the education minister or the culture minister, much less the prime minister – called to congratulate either the winner or the leader of the Palestinian Authority.

Nimble Internet commenters quickly exposed the cunning trick and wanted to know how much of the prize money the teacher would donate to Hamas or other terrorist organizations. There’s no easier way to launder money to finance terrorist organizations? We should also look into whether Hroub isn’t required to pay tax on her prize – after all, it’s income generated under Israeli rule.

The insult to Israel is even deeper given the efforts being made here to uproot every bud of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation before it can blossom. A bilingual school was torched. Dorit Rabinyan’s book “Borderlife,” which describes a romance between an Arab man and a Jewish woman, was neutralized by the education system. The marriage of a Jewish woman to an Arab man drew curses, and the couple was targeted by nationalist Jews with warm hearts and hot tempers. Plays that depict Palestinians’ dilemmas, or hint in any way at the ugliness of the occupation, lose government funding on the grounds that they undermine the state. A civics textbook that dared to correct our distorted history was thrown into the trash and its writers and editors put beyond the pale of patriotism.

Israelis won’t expose themselves to the propaganda and incitement that the Palestinians seek to drown them in. We mustn’t reproduce it or allow it to creep into Israeli poetry, plays, films or textbooks. The defensive shield must be hermetic and effective. We mustn’t hear, we mustn’t see and we certainly mustn’t speak.

Anyone who calls for nonviolence in Israel will be branded as a suspected traitor, or at least as an idiot who believes in coexistence at a time when it’s so clear who the enemy is. Our obedience will be complete, up to and including clicking our heels. We won’t be like the Palestinians, where a teacher – that is, a woman – wrote a book and created educational games to encourage children to understand the other and choose to handle problems in nonviolent ways.

The trouble with the Palestinian teacher is twofold. She has trained many other teachers in how to use her teaching method, thereby spreading the culture of nonviolence under the noses of the Israeli rulers. But the real failure in this story is that Israel didn’t detect her activity in time, didn’t realize she was competing for the Global Teacher Prize and didn’t monitor the judging process.

Consequently, the unpleasant surprise was complete. Who on earth would even have thought that the Palestinian education system – the one awash in incitement, which supplies a full complement of excuses for the frozen diplomatic process – contained such a dangerous program of education to nonviolence?