Israeli academics oppose Myanmar influence on curricula

Controversial textbook deal comes under fire

September 14, 2018
Source: istock
Many are unhappy about the ties between Israel and Myanmar exemplified by the recent educational agreement

Israeli academics have called on prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel an educational agreement with Myanmar that allows “the Burmese junta…the right to interfere in curricula in Israel”.

Earlier this year, Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely signed an agreement on educational cooperation with the Myanmar ambassador U Maung Maung Lynn. This also allowed each country to edit the way it was presented in textbooks used in the other.

Now, according to the left-of-centre Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a group of academics and educators led by human rights lawyer Eitay Mack have written to Netanyahu, who serves as both prime minister and foreign minister, saying that “it’s inconceivable that while the Burmese junta is busy committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, it has the right to interfere in curricula in Israel”.

References in textbooks to Myanmar, they added, had to reflect the many crimes of the military regime, and it was, in any case, not for the foreign ministry to “bypass normal procedures of approving curricula by the ministry of education”.

There has also been much criticism within Israel about continuing arms sales to Myanmar at a time when a recent United Nations report has accused the country of “genocidal intent” towards its Rohingya Muslim minority.

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