There are 1.3 million Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, who encompass 19.4 per cent of the country's total population. There are another 3, 762, 005 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip whose educational experiences and opportunities continue to be affected by Israeli occupation. Researchers have documented institutionalized political, economic, and social discrimination, as well as the Palestinian minority's lower levels of income, educational opportunity, employment, property ownership, and community infrastructure and development. The state-run educational system, which is subdivided into Jewish and Arab systems, has been essential in creating and maintaining these gaps. The April 2006 issue of American Behavioral Scientist explores the role of Palestinian Arab education as a public policy tool and reviews key issues regarding how education shapes culture, individual and communal development, social stratification, economics, and politics in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories.
The challenging articles in this provocative issue examine a far-reaching array of contentious topics, including: the historical context of Palestinian Arab education (Abu-Saad and Champagne); inequalities in public funding, budget allocation, curriculum, and lack of meaningful Palestinian involvement in the decision making processes that have led to considerable gaps between the qualitative level of Palestinian and Jewish education, and how the Israeli Supreme Court is upholding this "unequal" educational opportunities standard. (Jabareen); and despite Arab communities having a generally lower socio-economic status than their counterparts, there are significantly fewer of the unique special support programs designed for "disadvantaged" students. The various nuances, implications, and questions used to explore the sources of inequality and how to effect social change are analyzed using three generations of critical feminist thought. (Golan-Agnan).
It also focuses on the challenges of maintaining identity and culture within a mainstream school system that emphasizes values and education of the national community to the exclusion of other perspectives (Abu-Saad); the effect of the political legacy of oppression, occupation, and de-humanization on Palestinian youth living under Israeli occupation (Shalhoub-Kevorkian); the role of Palestinian universities as a place where Palestinians can articulate their national identity, engage in resistance to Israeli occupation, and build the nation of Palestine. (Bruhn) Whether one agrees or not with the controversial views expressed in this exceptional issue, these six articles highlight key educational issues that must be faced, debated, and grappled with in order to build the foundations of a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. This issue should be in the library of everyone interested in Middle East Studies, International Studies, International Politics, International Law, Human Rights, Educational Policy, Sociology of Education, and Social Change.