The new literature Bagrut (matriculation) curriculum is the answer to demands brought against the Education Ministry to diversify the teaching of poetry in the educational system. Until now, the curriculum focused on a limited number of poets, mainly from Ashkenazi backgrounds. Nidaa Khoury, an Arab-Israeli poet, will be included in the curriculum with her poem Hadibrot [The Commandments]. This decision comes one year after the Education Ministry’s decision, fist revealed by Maariv Newspaper, to include the first Arab-Israeli author Sayed Kashua in the [literature] curriculum for the Jewish sector. Kashua, a columnist for Haaretz, is the creator of the hit TV series “Avoda Aravit” (“Arab Labor”). Thus, Khoury's poem will join Kashua's novel Second Person Singular.
Khoury, 53, a female, Christian-Arab, is a literature lecturer in Ben Gurion [Be'er Sheva] University who served until recently as Coordinator of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel. "First of all, I offer my congratulations for this initiative," Khoury told Maariv on August 5. "The time has come that the educational system looks forward instead of only backward, sometimes to the distant past. The time has come to encompass all the different local languages via modern written works. We must progress to a future of building a joint conversation and deep understanding of the messages in this complex country of ours. A plurality of opinions must be reflected; the generation of the future should not be educated according to only one perspective. "
The other change made by the Education Ministry is the inclusion of numerous Mizrahi poets in the curriculum: Shimon Adaf’s poem Sderot, with the name of his native city, the [notorious Iraqi-Israeli] poet Ronny Someck and others.
A study publicized by Maariv newspaper a year ago created an uproar: the study had shown that out of 213 compositions appearing in the Simply Literature textbook for seventh and eighth graders, the Mizrahi figure appeared in only eight works. In all eight, the Mizrahi narrative was displayed in the context of poverty and misery. Now it seems that the Education Ministry has learned its lesson.