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Hanan Al Hroub’s ‘Global Teacher award’ is a victory for all Palestinian educators over Israeli occupation and PA corruption

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Every now and then, an Israeli or American politician will reiterate some version of the accusation that the Palestinian curriculum teaches Palestinian kids to “hate Jews.”   That accusation has been debunked again and again, with studies showing the opposite, namely that racism pervades Israeli textbooks. Today, a large section of Israeli society is racist, and proud of it, as evidenced by multiple reports and youtube videos, including chants of “Death to Arabs.”  Israel’s overall national ethos, and more specifically its school curriculum, are to blame.

Nevertheless, as soon as the accusation that Palestinians “teach their kids to hate Jews”  resurfaces, Israeli apologists eagerly seize upon it, and gleefully repeat it, along with various historic misrepresentations of the Palestinian people.  

Textbooks, and school curricula in general, have long been a battlefront in Israel’s war on the Palestinian people.  A recent manifestation of that war is the fact that McGrawHill, an otherwise reputable textbook publishing house, has actually destroyed textbooks that featured the popular “Palestinian loss of land” graphic, after a Zionist blogger rallied Israel supporters to complain to McGraw Hill about this graphic being inaccurate. 

While it is worrisome that an established American educational publishing house would actually apologize for these graphics, and destroy titles in its own catalog, the incident is not new.  Years ago, Walmart also deshelved globes that showed Palestine, after receiving complaints from Zionists.  And Israel has stolen entire Palestinian libraries, in what is widely acknowledged as an attempt at cultural dispossession.  The private collections of numerous Palestinian families and intellectuals are now considered “abandoned property,” even though their owners have asked to get them back, after they were seized by Israel in 1948.

Nevertheless, while the “developed world” engages in book burning to satisfy Israel apologists, the Palestinian people today has one of the highest literacy rates in the world.  Palestinian schoolchildren continue their education against all odds, in burnt out schools, in the streets, at checkpoints.  These children walk past soldiers and settlers on their way to school on a daily basis, engaging in education as yet another form of resistance.  Any violence that these children learn is not found in their textbooks, it is found on the streets they have to walk to get to their schools.   It is learned when they are harassed, attacked, detained, tortured, sexually assaulted, while going to school.  But it is not a violence that they are practicing, it is the violence they witness, and are subjected to.

In this context, where education is a daily victory over trauma, Palestinian schoolteacher Hanan Al Hroub was recently awarded the “Global Teacher award” for 2016, for teaching students traumatized by violence.  The award created by The Varkey Foundation, which aims to “improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world,” comes as Palestinian teachers are confronting not just the occupation, but also the corruption of their own supposed leadership, the Palestinian Authority. 

Hroub created her curriculum when her own husband and children were shot at on their way home from school. The incident, an all-too frequent occurrence in the West Bank, traumatized the children, whose overall behavior and academics suffered.   She looked around, but found no readily-available lessons to address the trauma.  Even though she was not yet a teacher herself at the time, she set out to create her own lessons, to help her children reject violence, while working to overcome their trauma.  The lessons were fun, involving play, and lots of much-needed laughter.  Soon, neighbors started sending their children to her.   “Our job is humane, its goals are noble,” Hroub explained.  “We must teach our children that our only weapon is knowledge and education.”  At her award ceremony, Hroub asserted that teachers “can change the world.”  

Hroub’s statements, and her work, are yet one more iteration of the Palestinian embrace of non-violence, and it is deeply satisfying to see it being acknowledged as such.   

All Palestinian teachers need to be honored.  They are carrying on one of the most necessary, most sustaining tasks in any society, despite the everyday violence of the Israeli occupation, and the relentless criticism from Zionists around the world, who persist in their claims that that “Palestinians teach their children to hate.”   The teachers are also functioning despite extreme corruption from their employer, the Palestinian Authority.  Approximately 20,000 Palestinian teachers in the West Bank went on strike in mid-February, to protest the fact that the PA ha still not raised their meager salaries, despite a 2013 agreement to do so.  The Palestinian teachers’ salaries are so low that many of them moonlight at other jobs in order to support themselves and their families.   

During the four-week strike, only recently suspended when Abbas promised the teachers a pay raise in the 2017-18 academic year, the teachers had the full support of Palestinian parents, even though almost a quarter million children were impacted.   Their stance was one against the neglect of an infrastructure which could and should be improved, even under occupation.   The PA set up checkpoints to prevent the striking teachers from joining demonstrations, while the streets filled up with supportive parents, also frustrated with the PA’s cronyism, its corruption, its utter lack of support for the people it is supposed to represent.  The teachers’ strike became a venue for all citizens to vent their own frustration with the PA’s lack of leadership.    Israeli journalist Amira Hass reports that, during their strike, Palestinian teachers became “the people’s heroes.”

Under these circumstances, Hroub’s award becomes even more meaningful.  It represents the sumoud of a people neglected by its leadership, abused by the world’s leaders.  Above all, the award is an acknowledgement that, as Rafeef Ziadah put it so powerfully, even when engulfed in unfathomable violence, “We Teach Life, Sir!”

About Nada Elia

Nada Elia is a Palestinian scholar-activist, writer, and grassroots organizer, currently completing a book on Palestinian Diaspora activism.

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41 Responses

  1. JWalters
    March 14, 2016, 7:34 pm

    The gold worshipers can always afford concentrated attacks on the facts. But when their deceptions are seen through by enough people, they are done in by their greed. My sincere thanks to Hanan for waging war against ignorance.

  2. Annie Robbins
    March 14, 2016, 7:48 pm

    this is wonderful news! she’s awesome. super congrats to Hanan Al Hroub and to Palestine and big thank you to The Varkey Foundation and everyone involved in this award. And huge shout out for winning the one million Global Teacher Prize too, i am sure it will be put to good use, the very best.

    • Misterioso
      March 15, 2016, 4:56 pm

      Whether living in their homeland, resisting a brutal military occupation and caring for their families or advocating for their people while abroad, I never cease to be amazed by the courage and accomplishments of Palestinian women.
      BRAVA Hanan Al Hroub!!

  3. michaela
    March 14, 2016, 9:48 pm

    Contrary to your statement, McGraw-Hill destroyed copies of the text Global Politics because peer scholars found the map in question to be factually incorrect. The map in question was wildly misleading in that it ignored the fact that international law granted large portions of Palestine to Israel.

    • Annie Robbins
      March 15, 2016, 1:53 am

      so what do you think of this: Israeli Schools’ Map to Right-wing Ignorance
      read more:

      The map of the country that seventh-graders use omits the Green Line and all Israeli Arab communities except Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm.

      • Kay24
        March 15, 2016, 3:02 am

        That may explain why these brainwashed young people, go on to feel entitled, and to wonder why they are being attacked. In their minds, it is all theirs and others are fighting to get it all.
        What an unfortunate situation.

      • YoniFalic
        March 15, 2016, 3:19 am

        The map expresses the genocidal dreams of the racist “Jewish” Nazi invaders.

    • echinococcus
      March 15, 2016, 3:58 am

      Bullshit. Right of conquest has been abolished by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. All of Palestine is occupied –in part with the illegally conferred benediction of colonial powers. Even there, whatever was “granted to Israel” by people who didn’t have the right to grant it is the Partition Proposal line. You are nothing but a *&^% propaganda shill.

    • ritzl
      March 15, 2016, 5:04 am

      It’s not peer reviewed unless the peers and their credentials are known.

      In its haste to appease a lunatic fringe, McGraw-Hill had these maps secretly “peer reviewed” which is to say…they weren’t.

      • chocopie
        March 15, 2016, 1:30 pm

        Exactly! We know exactly whose peers they were.

    • Misterioso
      March 15, 2016, 11:20 am


      “…international law granted large portions of Palestine to Israel.”

      I presume you are referring to the UNGA Partition Plan, Res. 181, Nov. 29/47, which was in fact contrary to “international law,” i.e., recommendatory only, in violation of the League of Nations British Class A Mandate and the Atlantic Charter, never adopted by the UNSC and of course, by recommending that the proposed Jewish state consist of 56% of Palestine even though despite massive immigration, Jews made up only about 31% of the population and owned only about 6.5% of the land, was grossly unfair to the indigenous Palestinian Arab inhabitants.

      For your edification:
      Land ownership in all of mandated Palestine on Nov. 29, 1947:
      By Sub district – Acre: 87% Palestinian owned, 3% Jewish owned, 10% state owned; Safed: 68% Palestinian owned, 18% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Haifa: 42% Palestinian owned, 35% Jewish owned, 23% state owned; Nazareth: 52% Palestinian owned, 28% Jewish owned, 20% state owned; Tiberias: 51% Palestinian owned, 38% Jewish owned, 11% state owned; Jenin: 84% Palestinian owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 16% state owned; Beisnan: 44% Palestinian owned, 34% Jewish owned, 22% state owned; Tulkarm: 78% PalestinIan owned; 17% Jewish owned, 5% state owned; Nablus: 87% Palestinian owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 13% state owned; Jaffa: 47% Palestinian owned, 39% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Ramleh: 77% Palestinian owned, 14% Jewish owned, 9% state owned; Ramallah: 99% Palestinian owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, less than 1% state owned; Jerusalem (West and East): 84% Palestinian owned, 2% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Gaza: 75% Palestinian owned, 4% Jewish owned, 21% state owned; Hebron: 96% Palestinian owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 4% state owned; Bersheeba: 15% Palestinian owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 85% state owned. (Village Statitistics, Jerusalem: Palestine Government, 1945; subsequently published as United Nations Map no. 94b, August, 1950)

      48% of the total land area of mandated Palestine was privately owned (‘mulk khaas’) by Palestinian Arabs. Total Jewish privately owned land was between 6% and 7%. About 45% of the total land area was state owned (i.e., by its citizens)* and it was comprised of Communal Property (‘mashaa’), Endowment Property, (‘waqf’), and Government Property, (‘miri’.) The British Mandate kept an extensive land registry and the UN used the registry during its early deliberations. It has in its archives 453,000 records of individual Palestinian owners defined by name, location & area.

      *Only 30% of Jewish immigrants had taken our citizenship and tens of thousands were illegal immigrants.

      Although the Philippines initially opposed Res. 181 and Liberia and Haiti wanted to abstain, the United States and the Zionists pressured these countries to vote in favour, thereby gaining the necessary two-thirds approval. “Under threat of a Jewish boycott of Firestone rubber and tire products, Harvey Firestone told Liberia that he would recommend suspension of plans for the expansion of development there if Liberia voted against partition.” (Michael Cohen, Palestine and the Great Powers, 1945-1948, 1982)

      These bullying tactics were aptly described by James Forrestal, then U.S. Secretary of Defence: “The methods that had been used…to bring coercion and duress on other nations in the General Assembly bordered closely onto scandal.” (Millis, Walter, ed., The Forrestal Diaries, New York: the Viking Press, 1951)

      • MHughes976
        March 15, 2016, 4:12 pm

        In any event, no international committee has the right to set aside the wishes and interests of the people in a territory it pretends to hold in trust and to insist on its partition. Kings, presidents, ambassadors judges and suchlike are not gods.
        However, thank you for all that information, Misterioso. It is interesting how the demand for partition was treated as reasonable even though there was no significant area of Jewish majority.

      • Misterioso
        March 15, 2016, 4:59 pm


        Agreed, mon ami. Hence, UNGA Res. 181 had no legal status and could only be recommendatory.

      • echinococcus
        March 16, 2016, 12:31 am

        Thank you, Hughes.

        This is precisely why the Zionist entity is illegitimate on any part of Palestine.

        Worse: the hostile intent of the Zionists had been publicly stated as of 1897 at the latest. In all fairness, any Zionist colonial immigration past that date could not be legitimately allowed to count. And there was no plebiscite.

      • echinococcus
        March 16, 2016, 12:36 am

        Let’s add that “State owned” means ownership in the name of the people, i.e. all Palestinian citizens. More: the principle in 1945, i.e. a postcolonial year, cannot be land ownership but population. More: the immigrants with declared intent to overthrow the sovereignty cannot be counted.

      • Marnie
        March 16, 2016, 1:45 am

        Thank you Misterios!

      • michaela
        March 16, 2016, 10:11 am

        Tho dost protest too much!
        Subsequent private purchases have aligned ownership toward the grant issued by international law.

      • echinococcus
        March 16, 2016, 11:01 am

        Typical Zionist comment: imagining that money can buy sovereignty.
        Only in your outlandish dreams. Or in the year 900.

    • talknic
      March 16, 2016, 4:40 am

      @ michaela March 14, 2016, 9:48 pm

      “Contrary to your statement, McGraw-Hill destroyed copies of the text Global Politics because peer scholars found the map in question to be factually incorrect”

      Source please …. thx

  4. ritzl
    March 15, 2016, 5:06 am

    Such good news. Well done Hanan Al Hroub!

  5. Kay24
    March 15, 2016, 7:21 am

    Congratulations to Hanan for this prestigious award. It seems she is a dedicated teacher, and her efforts to help the disadvantaged little children, has paid off. She has brought world attention to the plight of these kids, and her award will surely open minds and heart to the suffering that is endless, and the fact that they do not have the advantages of their peers, nor the freedom.

  6. Mayhem
    March 15, 2016, 9:03 am

    Hardly surprising for a body founded and headquartered in Dubai.

    • Kay24
      March 15, 2016, 9:53 am

      Now that you have diminished the award, and her accomplishment, I bet you are pleased with yourself today. If this was an Israeli teacher you would be so proud, but then zionists never allow a good opportunity to take an ugly shot at people they have power over. It is a bad habit and hard to break.

      • YoniFalic
        March 15, 2016, 10:16 am

        Mayhem differs little from the German Nazis that dismissed Einstein’s achievement in physics by deriding it as Jewish physics.

        For the record, the Varkey Foundation, which is founded by a Christian family originating in Kerala India, seems to be run mostly by Brits and Ugandans.

      • Kay24
        March 15, 2016, 12:52 pm

        Thank you YF for that link. As far as I can see there are no connections to Dubai, nor any Arabs on their governing board. Mayhem is seething with envy that despite all the hardships, a Palestinian and not an Israeli has been given this award. He thinks Israelis are entitled to all,
        and he does not want to see any Palestinian progress. Meanness must be in his DNA.

      • Kay24
        March 16, 2016, 6:53 am

        It seems Mayhem is unable to defend his ugly comment.

        II hear the sound of crickets…..

    • oldgeezer
      March 15, 2016, 11:30 am


      It has a million times more credibility than the Israeli prize.

    • chocopie
      March 15, 2016, 1:46 pm

      Wow, she hasn’t raised a finger or said a word against his beloved colonial state, and she’s an advocate for non-violence and for children. Mayhem sneers at her accomplishment simply because she was born a Palestinian refugee and it pisses him off for her to get any positive attention.

      For Palestinians, existence is resistance and excelling is an affront to Zionism. Palestinians were all supposed to disappear quietly in 1948.

    • jd65
      March 15, 2016, 2:23 pm

      @ Mayhem: How ’bout you tell that to Prince William and the Pope: Or maybe you just list them as more “Jew Haters?”

      This award is spectacular, and anyone who feels otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, can shove it.

    • Marnie
      March 16, 2016, 1:48 am

      Sour grapes much? Envy is unhealthy btw. I wish my daughter had had teachers with even half of the drive, the commitment and the love that Mrs. Al-Hroub shows for her students and her people. What a humble human being. Tough luck for you Mayhem, but maybe you could be tutored by her…wait! She just won a million bucks!!!!

    • talknic
      March 16, 2016, 4:55 am

      @ Mayhem “Hardly surprising for a body founded and headquartered in Dubai”

      Your lies are so easily dis-proven, why do you bother continuing to make a fool of yourself?

      BTW Lying is against the most basic tenets of Judaism. Yet we find jerks like you spewing lies for the so called Jewish state, the same jerks who condone Israel breaking International Law.

  7. Ossinev
    March 15, 2016, 10:52 am

    Nice try.Shows your true colours = ignore the facts and the sheer basic humanity of the lady and her efforts and instead instinctively try to undermine. Typical Zionist deflection and distraction.What truly ugly people you and your kind have become.

  8. Liz
    March 15, 2016, 11:35 am

    Congratulations; such great news!

  9. Mayhem
    March 17, 2016, 8:42 am

    From the Times of Israel:

    As al-Hroub accepted her award, Palestinians in the audience waved their country’s flag and some chanted, fists pumping in the air, “With our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you, Palestine.”

    In her acceptance speech, she reiterated her mantra of “No to violence” and stressed the importance of dialogue.

    The reaction of al-Hroub’s vocal supporters shows us a very contradictory message.

    This is clearly meant to be a plain “feel good” story and there are many elements of Hanan’s “sell” that are worthy. However the notion that Israel is the source of violence is false. There is a failure to acknowledge self-responsibility and hence a moral failure. “No to Violence” is therefore just code for “No to Israel” and this is not helpful.

    Palestinians must be educated to say “Yes to Israel” as a valid and valued entity in their neighbourhood.

    Pope Francis is a fool and a moral idiot. His endorsement should immediately ring alarm bells.

    Why was my previous post with this content censored?

    • eljay
      March 17, 2016, 9:27 am

      || Mayhem: … Palestinians must be educated to say “Yes to Israel” … ||

      All people – including Palestinians and Zio-supremacists – must be educated to say ‘Yes to justice, accountability and equality.’

      All people – including Palestinians and Zio-supremacists – must be educated to say ‘No to every (war) criminal and/or supremacist state, including “Jewish State”‘.

      || …. Pope Francis is a fool and a moral idiot. ||

      Says the hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist.

    • talknic
      March 17, 2016, 9:57 am

      @ Mayhem

      What code? The bullsh*t Zionists make up. If they didn’t say it they meant it type code?

      BTW Israel spills Palestinian blood every day, has done for generations. Some days in bulk. Especially civilian blood

      The Palestinians do not occupy Israel. Israel occupies what remains of Palestine after Israel proclaimed its borders taking more than half of Palestine completely gratis. The Palestinians did not decide to colonize anyone. The Zionist Federation decided to colonize Palestine. Israel is the source of violence.

      You’re the fool. Living in denial or a paid propagandist. Probably both. Too big a fool to earn an honest living

    • Kay24
      March 17, 2016, 10:27 am

      “Palestinians must be educated to say “Yes to Israel” as a valid and valued entity in their neighbourhood.”

      When have you ever heard of victims say “Yes” to their oppressor, when they are being occupied for decades, and have their lands stolen every day? Such an inane comment, it seems those who keep regurgitating the occupiers nonsense propaganda, are bigger fools.

    • Mooser
      March 17, 2016, 5:12 pm

      “Pope Francis is a fool and a moral idiot. His endorsement should immediately ring alarm bells. Why was my previous post with this content censored?”

      “Censored”? It was really an eager audience yelling “Encore, encore!

    • eljay
      March 17, 2016, 9:04 pm

      || Mayhem: … Pope Francis is a fool and a moral idiot. His endorsement should immediately ring alarm bells. … ||

      Why? Did he use the word “surely”?

      • talknic
        March 17, 2016, 10:28 pm

        Surely not

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