Compulsory education, in particular history and religious education, is often used by states as a critical tool of nation building, as states attempt to socialize and shape the attitudes and beliefs of citizens in line with their strategic aims. As a state that defines itself as "Jewish and democratic" and that has instituted special compulsory education curricula for students on the basis of ethnicity and religion, the state of Israel is no exception. The Syrian Golan despite being under occupation by Israel for the last forty-five years has been written about only sparingly compared to the overwhelming amount of research that has been performed on the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Druze residents of the Occupied Syrian Golan are subject to a separate compulsory education curriculum designed and implemented by the state of Israel that attempts to shape their identity in religious terms that reflect Israel's strategic aims at the expense of accurately depicting the history and heritage of the Syrian Golan and its residents. It attempts to obscure their identity as Syrian Arabs entirely, focusing instead on a narrative of historical similarity and alliance of Druze and Jews and their common persecution by Muslims. And most importantly, it is the same curriculum that Israel has created for its own citizens, highlighting a fundamental problem in Israel's denial that it occupies the Syrian Golan. The problem in the Syrian Golan is not simply that the residents receive a separate education on the basis of religious and ethnic difference. It is not simply that the residents are left without the option of choosing an alternative education for their children that respects their origins. It is that the abuse of the principle of non-annexation has fundamental consequences for the human dignity of the affected residents, and negative implications on the international legal system upon which the principle is based. This study undertakes to analyze the problem of education in the occupied Golan in relation to norms of IHRL and IHL and to propose reconciliation between these conflicting norms to the extent that it is possible. It will focus primarily on Israel's obligations under the ICESCR, CRC, CADE, and key international humanitarian agreements including the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulations in the context of belligerent occupation. And finally, it will briefly analyze the problematic legal consequences of Israel's conduct in relation to the residents of the Syrian Golan, and the international legal system.


Law Department

Degree Name

MA in International Human Rights Law

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2012

First Advisor

Sayed, Hani

Second Advisor

Badawi, Nesrine



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Druzes -- Golan Heights.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Education -- Syria -- 21st century.


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


In completing this work, I benefited from the advice and encouragement of countless people. Notably, Professor Hani Sayed and Professor El Sondergaard, whose encouragement and lucid advice helped me reach further depths in this topic. I received valuable advice from Sital Kalantry of Cornell Law School about the right to education, and from the students in the Cornell Research Colloquium, whose insightful comments assisted me greatly while editing. I received support from the faculty and students of the Department of Law at the American University in Cairo, who provided a stimulating environment for creative legal thinking, and gave me the support to present this research at an intertiol conference in Austria. I would like to especially thank Professors Tanya Monforte, Alejandro Lorite Escorihuela, Thomas Skouteris, and Dia Van Bogaert, for all of their encouragement and insight â they have truly changed the way I think about law and the world. I benefitted deeply from the perspectives of Dr. Martin Isleem and Dr. Munir Fakhereldin and am indebted to them for offering me their expertise regarding the Druze in Israel and the residents of the Syrian Golan. I am deeply grateful to the staff of Al-Marsad including Nizar Ayoub, ief Fakhereldeen, and Salman Fakereldin, for their hospitality and support over the summer of 2008, and for making me feel at home among the people of the Syrian Golan, especially from the village of Majdal Shams. And I have been deeply touched and inspired by their warmth, friendship, hospitality, and inspiratiol responses, especially their artistic responses, to a difficult political situation. In particular, I wanted to thank Jad Mari, Eyad Abu Saleh, and all others who generously offered me their friendship. I wanted to thank Daanish Faruqi, Kerry, Khulood, Gissella Montenegro, Allison Silver, Lindsey Humphreys, and everyone else who spent countless hours offering their counsel and advice throughout the process of research and writing, and for their friendship across oceans. I am thankful to Dr. Peyi Soyinka-Airewele of Ithaca College for first stimulating my interest in education and conflict and in the state's role in attempting to shape citizens' identities. I wanted to thank my family for supporting me throughout the course of this project, especially Ann, Krista, Bill, and my parents Laurie and Bill, and to Afeefa Syeed, jeeba Syeed, Esa Syeed, and feesa Syeed, for valuable discussions around educatiol curricula within conflict zones and for peacebuilding, and on writing around conflict. I wish to thank Dr. Sayyid Syeed, Rafia Syeed, Suhaib Barzinji, and Afeefa Syeed for their hospitality, inspiration, and encouragement. I am deeply grateful to Di Mansour for her advice, encouragement every step of the way, friendship, and for going out of her way to ensure my thesis was delivered, even when I was halfway around the world. Filly, I want to thank Zaki Barzinji for reading countless versions of my drafts, for his encouragement from beginning to end, and for his endless love, patience, tranquility, and curiosity. I could not have done this without him. All errors are my own.