Coming soon to a Junior High near you, courtesy of Harvard University and Center for Middle Eastern Studies Outreach Coordinator, Barbara Petzen:
PictureBalata is an Arab propaganda web site that takes "refugee camp" kids and puts them up as props in the campaign against Israel. We'll take a look around the site in a moment. For now, the Harvard announcement for an event that took place this past April 11 (emphasis is mine):
Dear Friend of the Outreach Center,
We have a very special opportunity for educators and young students who have studied the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to ask questions of young Palestinians who have come to the US to share their pictures and stories.
Next Wednesday, April 11th, several young Palestinians from Balata Refugee Camp outside of Nablus, West Bank will be at Harvard University for a presentation of their pictures and to answer questions. High school and junior high students are especially encouraged to attend!
PICTURE BALATA YOUTH SPECIAL BOSTON EVENT: Wednesday April 11, 2007 7pm-9pm
7pm Slideshow presentation by Picture Balata youth
[snip room info, etc...]
Harvard University Center for Government and International Studies
Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge Street
*Photography exhibit will run 9 April - 21 April at Fisher Commons, Center for Government and International Studies Building North
Picture Balata coming to six US cities in April
Four teenage participants from the Picture Balata workshop are coming to the US the first two weeks of April 2007. Showing their work and speaking about their lives, the photographers will travel to New York City; Washington, DC; Pittsburgh; Boston; Chicago and San Francisco.
These young people, leaving the West Bank for the first time, will be able to educate Americans regarding the reality of the situation in Balata Refugee Camp and occupied Palestine. The tour will also give them the chance to see that people outside Palestine support their work and the Palestinian struggle for justice.
The tour also aims to raise funds to purchase cameras, computers and Internet access so that after further training the workshop participants, nine in total, will be able to do everything from taking the picture, editing it on their own computer and then publishing it on a website for the entire world to see. This self- sustainable project will give these young people the opportunity to further pursue photography and other media as a form of self-expression and resistance.
Outside the West Bank City of Nablus lies the Balata Refugee Camp. Established in 1951, Balata and the dozens other camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan were supposed to be a temporary solution for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who were driven
from their homes during the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
"Driven?!" OK, 1951...let's see...that's 16 years prior to the "occupation." Would it be unfair to ask what was being done there in the mean-time?
Nearly six decades later, Balata is home to almost 25,000 residents living on less than one square kilometer -- the most densely populated refugee camp within the West Bank [A situation that could be alleviated any time the PA really wanted to.]. In recent years, Balata has seen hundreds of deaths and arrests, dozens of home demolitions and the camp is subject to near-nightly invasions by the Israeli army [They wouldn't happen to be fighting any...terrorists...there, would they?]. It is here the Picture Balata workshop was started to teach youth from the camp about photography.
Picture Balata puts the camera into the hands of the children born and raised inside the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Participants ranging from ages 11 to 18 photograph their situation as they live it in Balata Refugee Camp.
Put a camera in their hands and set them up to do the job over here that their terrorist older siblings would like to do. And the funny thing is if you were to show to OUR Junior High students what these kids watch on THEIR TV to inform their view of the world, you'd probably be hauled off to jail.
Let's have a look at some of the "testimonials" from kids on the web site to see what message Harvard thinks is a message appropriate for your kids.
Ala', age 14: "...While we play football and hide and go seek in streets the Army will come into the camp. Then all the children will go homes or stay in the street and throw stones at the Jeeps..."
Fadi, age 18: "...Thousands of people have been arrested from the camp in recent years. They are arrested because of resisting the occupation..."
Mohamed (aka Butch), age 15: "...Our lands were taken, most don't own businesses, and we are dependant on Israel for work. After 2000 when Israel stopped allowing in Palestinians to work over half the camp became unemployed..."
Sabreen, age 17: "...Life in Balata is hard. Many people from the camp have been injured or imprisoned, and those who resist Israeli occupation by military means are forced to sleep on the street so they don't endanger the lives of their families. [Poor dears!]..."
Tahreer, age 15: "There are many martyrs from the camp...How come these men who fight against the occupation are called terrorists, and the Israelis are not?...I photograph martyrs and their families in the camp, because they are our heroes and people should know what they have sacrificed."
On an on. The informed will recognize the script, and the images in the kids' galleries. They are open in their purposes.
An editorial in the Harvard paper says much:
...Despite any reasonable claims that the event was biased, the one-sided nature of the exhibit should actually be viewed as refreshing...
...Hadil [one of the participants] said that one day she will return to the land that her grandmother was forced to leave in 1948, and that "the Zionists will be chased out of our land."...
A reliable informant who was there writes that:
The term "occupation" was used equally in reference to Israeli presence on the West Bank and on the coastal plain, and the hostess ended the Q & A with the following remark: "We hope that tonight will play a small part in trying to end the economic and military support for the occupation."
This is politics, not education, and they know it.
It has become a truism that September 11 changed our world. Ironically, perhaps, it hasn't changed how and why we do things at The Outreach Center at Harvard University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. It has, however, created a much higher demand in the K-12 community, the media and business communities, and the general public for our knowledge of the Middle East and the skills and strategies we give educators to teach about it.
As a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center, the Center is charged with serving and educating the wider New England community about the Middle East...
That's right, this is what Harvard thinks of as "educational" for kids, and worse yet, you're paying for it.