By Yuli Kromchenko and Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondents
Education Minister Yuli Tamir has instructed schools to devote time to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kafr Qasem massacre, in which border patrol troops killed 47 Arab citizens who were returning to their village from work. The anniversary will be marked on Sunday, October 29.Tamir has instructed schools to address the massacre itself and the events that occurred following the massacre, including the court ruling that a command can be termed “blatantly illegal,” and in such a case, a soldier must not obey it.
According to the minister’s directive, “The massacre and the trial that followed it have become milestones in the national psyche of Israeli society and have instilled in generations of commanders and soldiers a moral border one should abide by.”
The Education Ministry plans on adding relevant instruction materials onto its website, but none have been posted to the site thus far.Tamir decided to address the massacre in schools following a petition by the education committee within the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee.
Center for Arab Citizens director, Jafar Farah, has even threatened to petition to the High Court of Justice if the massacre was not included in high school history classes, as was during Yossi Sarid’s term as education minister.
On October 29 1956, during the first day of the Sinai war, three border patrol troops received a command to shoot anyone who broke the curfew imposed on Kafr Qasem.
The troops shot and killed 47 of the village’s residents as they were making their way home from work, unaware of the newly imposed curfew. Among the dead were women and children.
The soldiers involved in the massacre were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, but received pardons. The brigade commander was sentenced to pay the symbolic fine of 10 pruta (old Israeli cents).
A memorial commemorating the massacre was recently raised in Kafr Qasem. According to the Kafr Qasem municipality, a museum dealing with the events of October 29 will open its doors to the public on the massacre’s anniversary.
A news conference held in Kafr Qasem on Sunday heard harsh criticism of the addition of Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman to the government.
Shauki Hatib, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, made a connection between Lieberman joining the government and the ’56 massacre. According to him, the massacre voiced a wish to expel the Arabs, and the same wish stands behind Lieberman’s plan to annex residents of an area known as the Triangle of Arab communities to the Palestinian Authority.
“He termed Lieberman’s party a “fascist party” and said that history shows that every fascist party initially spoke against minorities.
The Mossawa director called for renewed public discourse on the subject of the massacre and the connection between the massacre and the events of October 2000.