As a Palestinian-American educator and parent, I am deeply committed to bringing Palestine into our classrooms. I want my own children, other Palestinian children, their teachers and classmates to know what it means to be Palestinian—in the United States and in Palestine.
As a child, I struggled to understand where I fit in. My parents taught me to love my Palestinian culture, but I couldn’t find a place for it at school, and neither could my teachers. That situation has only gotten worse for Palestinian American students. “Do you know how it feels to be called a terrorist by your teacher and classmates?” asks Bay Area student Hedaia. “It’s dehumanizing. As much as I tried to assimilate at my high school, I was always a scary Arab with a hard name to pronounce.”
The Teach Palestine Project is dedicated to providing educators with the information and tools they need to bring Palestine into their curriculum without fear of backlash and attack. I am no stranger to this. As a long-time social studies teacher, I was subjected to years of harassment for teaching the history of Israel’s role in Palestine. Yet I prevailed, because of the strength of my curriculum and a supportive community, including the Teach Palestine Project.
Our project is more important now than ever. Last year the State of California launched the creation of a Model Ethnic Studies Curriculum. I was part of the group of ethnic studies educators tasked with developing a curriculum that could be used by teachers across the state. In the face of Zionist and other rightwing lobbyists, our anti-racist, decolonial and liberatory draft has been decimated. The entire Arab American section was deleted, and a few poorly conceived Arab American lessons were relegated to an appendix.
We need your support to keep fighting back. The Teach Palestine Project is an integral part of the struggle here in California to make sure that Arab American Studies—including Palestine—is taught in our schools. I am more determined than ever to make this happen. I want my own children, 4th grade twins, to learn about our roots somewhere beyond home. I want their classmates to know where Palestine is when my kids share that they are from Palestine and that is where they spent summer break. I want all Palestinian children in the United Stated to experience this.
We need your support to keep developing curriculum, holding workshops, collaborating with teachers, strengthening our website, and building the community committed to teaching Palestine. I hope you will support Teach Palestine this holiday season.
Samia Shoman, Ed.D
Co-Coordinator, Teach Palestine Project
For more information on teaching about Palestine, see the Teach Palestine Project website: teachpalestine.org