Let's be clear; this isn't historical revisionism nor the primary history textbook for the High School, this was for an elective unit for 11th graders, and has gone through years of research and production and peer review, AND was endorsed by the Foreign Ministry:
Work on the textbook, which is entitled "Learning the Historical Narrative of the Other," began 10 years ago as part of a joint project initiated by (the late ) Professor Dan Bar-On of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Professor Sami Adwan of Bethlehem University, with input from numerous Israeli and Palestinian history teachers.
The completed edition of the textbook was published last year. It includes material on the genesis of the Zionist movement in the 19th century through events of the past decade. Each page in the book is divided into three sections of equal size. The Israeli narrative is presented on the right, the Palestinian narrative on the left, and down the middle are empty lines in which the students are asked to fill with their thoughts.
Last year, Michal Wasser, a history teacher at Sha'ar Hanegev, began using the textbook in specialized and expanded lessons for students who opted for the five-unit track. The class consisted of 15 11th-graders who will submit a final paper on the topic of their choice. The course work is in addition to the regular curriculum that is geared toward the matriculation exam. Last month, Haaretz ran an article about the experimental history course at Sha'ar Hanegev. During that period the head of the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council, Alon Shuster, hosted a delegation of Swedish mayors who sought to advance a joint educational initiative based on the textbook, a venture to encompass students from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Sweden.
Critics portray the Education Ministry's reaction as 'kneejerk', 'pavlovian', 'narrow-minded', etc. What makes me especially sad is the irony of the situation. Sderot, as some of us know, is right on the edge of the Gaza Strip, and was (and continues to be) a primary target of Hamas Qassam rockets from Gaza. Their playgrounds, schools and other public spaces have been redesigned with reinforced roofs and extra bomb shelters because of the constant barrage. Their rate of enlistment in the IDF remains among the highest. And THEIR CHILDREN wanted to learn the Palestinian side of the story. Of all Israelis who have a right to want to close a door on understanding, they are the most willing, most interested in bringing these two people together. That it was undermined by political appointees looking to score points saddens me profoundly and illustrates (for me, anyway) one of the many barriers to peace that, despite the violence, regular Israelis and Palestinians are still seeking.