The political incident with Jordan casts a shadow over the International Conference on Excellence in Education, which began on Wednesday in the capital. Representatives from 30 countries arrived in Israel over the last few days, but the biggest delegation, which was supposed to come from the neighbor to the east, withdrew its attendance. Princess Sumaya, the daughter of Prince Hassan and cousin of King Abdullah, was meant to stand at the head of the delegation.
The princess is a leader in education in Jordan, serving as the head of the board of trustees of the University for Technology, which is named for her, and as president of the Royal Scientific Society. But her delegation ran into a political obstacle when the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood led to the visit’s cancelation. That rise happens to coincide with the group’s assumption of power in Egypt.
Three months ago, the Muslim Brotherhood faction was chosen to stand at the head of the Jordan Teachers Association, which is considered an influential body in the country. Since the group’s election, it has begun to impose on educators its world-view, which objects to normalizing relations with Israel. Members of the delegation confirmed their attendance before the elections in the teachers’ organization, but the Muslim Brotherhood placed heavy pressure on the teachers to withdraw their attendance. Representatives in Jerusalem were notified in recent days that the delegation in its entirety would not be attending.
Professor Taisir Subhi Yamin, the head of the International Center for Innovation in Education, is Jordanian himself, living today in Germany. Yamin is responsible for the decision to hold the conference in Jerusalem this year, seven years after its establishment. The conference was held last year in the Persian Gulf, and Professor Yamin had believed that holding it in Jerusalem could positively contribute to relations between the countries, beyond just educational and professional matters.
“From the moment that the Muslim Brotherhood was elected to the leadership of the Teachers Association, it started to pressure schools, teachers and principals not to come to the conference, and to be subordinate to their ways and their agenda, meaning, to cut off relations with Israel,” said Professor Yamin. “I have seen teachers concerned lately. I had thought that everything was alright, until I understood that the pressure is too great, and they won’t becoming.” Professor Yamin asks that it be made clear that “many people in Jordan support relations with Israel, and the princess has always greatly supported the conference.”
The Israeli Center for Excellence through Education was established 20 years ago, and deals in different aspects relating to the education of gifted and talented students.