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Lecture at the AMQF on Interaction of the Education System with the Kafr Qasim Massacre

Ramallah (A. M. Qattan Foundation – 12 January 2019):

On Thursday, 12 January 2019, the Educational Research and Development Programme (ERDP) / A. M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF) held a lecture, titled Interaction of the Education System with the Kafr Qasim Massacre: The Story of Three Generations of Educators. The lecture was delivered by Maram Massarweh, Lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities, Tel Aviv University, at the AMQF premises, Ramallah.

Massarweh discussed the educational methods, which the local education system in the Kafr Qasim town has used after the massacre was committed in 1956. She also addressed the reflections of, and mechanisms to commemorate, the massacre over generations.

Based on research findings on three generations of educators from the town, Massarweh indicated that each generation has dealt with the memory of the massacre differently.

According to Massarweh, educators of the first generation in the 1950s and 1960s were afraid of discussing the subject of the massacre with their students due to Israeli censorship and threats under the military rule over Arab cities and villages. On the other hand, the second generation of the 1970s and 1980s were more open and resolute to raise this issue. This generation was more interactive than other segments of the Palestinian people.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, the third generation of educators was distinctive of profound consciousness. They managed to pass the barriers of fear and launch a strong education agenda to raise students’ awareness and knowledge of the events and causes of the massacre, preserve the collective memory, and consolidate the Palestinian national identity.

Massarweh made an overview of a number of mechanisms used by teachers of this generation. These include the alternative curriculum, which is taught over a period of one month prior to the anniversary of the massacre. In addition to living testimonies, street theatre events reproduce scenes of the massacre on the town’s streets. Students also visit a museum, which documents the massacre events. An annual candle vigil is organised on the night before the day of remembrance. A central procession also sets off on this day.

Massarweh, who holds a Ph.D. degree from the Hebrew University, cast light on the role of women, who spearheaded the efforts to incorporate commemoration of the massacre within the educational process at the town school. She also highlighted the role played by members of the Islamic Movement and Communist Party in this context.

Massarweh presented images and models of educational materials used in the Kafr Qasim schools. She also screened a short film on the “reconciliation” following the massacre. The lecture brought together an interested audience, including teachers and researchers, who enriched the discussion with their informed interventions and questions.