Because if it’s not in the history books, it didn’t happen. Today’s Orwell Award goes to the Israeli government, whose education minister has decided to remove references to what Palestinians call the “catastrophe” — when Israel defeated five Arab nations in a 1948 war and expelled 700,000 Palestinians — from textbooks given to Arab schoolchildren.

If you read the Associated Press copy carefully, you will see that the first and second paragraphs say two very different things. The lead paragraph claims the “catastrophe” is a reference to the creation of the state of Israel. The second claims catastrophe refers to the Palestinian “defeat and exile in the war over Israel’s 1948 creation.” Al-naqba actually refers to the exile of 700,000 Palestinians and the loss of 80 percent of the Palestinian homeland to an invading force — not a petty condemnation of Israel’s creation.

The Associated Press:

The Israeli government will remove references to what Palestinians call the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation from textbooks for Arab schoolchildren, the education minister said Wednesday.

The reference to “al-naqba,” the Arabic word catastrophe, as Palestinians call their defeat and exile in the war over Israel’s 1948 creation, was inserted by a dovish Israeli education minister in 2007.

The phrase remains contentious six decades later, a symptom of the continuing divisions in Israel. Many Israeli Arabs identify politically with their Palestinian counterparts in the West Bank and Gaza. As a result, some Israeli Jews accuse Israeli Arabs of disloyalty to the country.

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