Thursday, March 23, 2006

Canadian Jewish News: "Toronto school board pulls Three Wishes"

This is a positive development:
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has joined the York Region District School Board in removing a controversial book about the Middle East from a children’s after-school reading program.

The TDSB announced last week it was pulling Three Wishes; Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak from the Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch reading program and removing it from school and library shelves. Children in Grade 7 and up will still be able to borrow the book from a librarian or school office.

The move came after Canadian Jewish Congress asked the TDSB and other school boards across the province to reconsider whether Three Wishes was appropriate for children in grades 4, 5 and 6. Congress argued the book failed to provide sufficient historical context to the conflict while demonizing the Israeli army and making suicide bombing appear as a legitimate recourse for Palestinian children.
From an earlier CJN story:
In Three Wishes, several Palestinian children say they hope they will be able to one day kill Jews.

One Palestinian girl, Wafa, 12, complains about Israeli military checkpoints, saying “ the Israeli soldiers treat us like dogs. They make us stand and wait for no good reason, just because they can.

“Killing an Israeli will make me feel glad. It will make me feel strong… I am tired of them making me feel small and weak. I want to feel strong and proud.”

Another Palestinian girl, Maryam, 11, said “there are women martyrs who do the suicide bombings. They are very brave… I have only one wish. I would like to go to heaven. Maybe in heaven there is happiness after we die. Maybe then.”

Salam, the 12-year-old sister of suicide bomber Aayat Al-Akhras, who killed herself, a security guard and 17-year-old Rachel Levy at a Jerusalem market, said she would have made her sister a special breakfast on the day of her attack, had she known about it.

“I don’t think it would hurt if I blew myself up. I don’t think it hurt my sister. I think she was very brave, not scared at all. I think she was probably very happy,” Salam said.
Here is an example of what we learn about the book at Amazon:
An excellent presentation of a confusing historic struggle, told within a palpable, perceptive and empathetic format.
And also:
The wide range of voices shows the connections between warring neighbors despite the distances that separate them, and the personal details reveal the universals ("I just want to ride horses") in a moving way. Even the grimmest stories have a glimmer of hope, as in the account of a Palestinian girl whose Israeli and Palestinian friends return again and again to help rebuild her house, which is repeatedly bulldozed by soldiers. The specifics and the passionate immediacy of the voices will spark discussion on the Middle East and on civilians in war.

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