Teaching Hatred of Israel and Jews in the New Palestinian Authority Schoolbooks
This paper was an annexe to a submission made to the UK Parliament's Select Defence Committee.
One of the most meaningful gauges of the integrity of a peace process and its likelihood for success is the degree to which the peace partners educate towards peace.
It is for this reason that the entire Palestinian Authority (PA) education apparatus, both formal and informal, has been such a dismal disappointment. Instead of seizing the opportunity to educate the future generations to live with Israel in peace, the PA has done everything in its power to teach hatred to young minds.
To conceal this, the Palestinian Authority has been spreading two falsehoods about the schoolbooks that have unfortunately succeeded in deflecting international pressure for change.
PA Foreign Minister Nebil Shaath recently answered complaints about the schoolbooks, saying that the PA has spent five years rewriting the books, implying that the problems have been eliminated. Then he added that Israel used the same old Jordanian books for educating the local Arab population for 30 years, and therefore has no valid complaint against the PA. Many European governments have come to the PA's defense, citing these arguments.
The first truth about the PA schoolbooks is that both new and old include anti-Semitic messages, de-legitimize Israel's existence and incite to hatred and violence. Anti Semitism, for example, is found openly in the new 6th grade book "Reading the Koran", as children read about Allah's warning to the Jews that because of their evil Allah will kill them:
"...Oh you who are Jews... long for death if you are truthful... for the death from which you flee, that will surely overtake you... "
In other sections, they learn of Jews being expelled from their homes by Allah, and in another Jews are said to be like donkeys:
"Those [Jews] who were charged with the Torah, but did not observe it, are like a donkey carrying books... " [Reading the Koran, grade 6. p.20, 23, 78].
This religious-based anti-Semitism is the most dangerous, as children are taught that hating Jews is God's choice. And while not intending any criticizing of Islam, it is very grave that although Islam has positive traditions regarding Jews, the PA educators selected only hateful religious traditions for inclusion in their schoolbooks.
The new PA schoolbooks teach that Israel has no right to exist, de-legitimizing Israel as a foreign occupier, like colonial Britain.
"Colonialism: Palestine faced the British occupation after the First World War in 1917, and the Israeli occupation in 1948" [National Education, sixth grade, p. 16].
Since all of Israel is taught to be "occupied territory", all of Israel's cities, regions and natural resources are taught to be part of "Palestine". For example:
"Among the famous rocks of southern Palestine are the rocks of Beersheba and the Negev," and "Palestine's Water Sources - ... The most important is the Sea of Galilee." [Our Beautiful Language, grade 6, Part A, p. 64, National Education, sixth grade, pp. 9-10]
Although, the Negev, Beersheba and the Sea of Galilee are part of the State of Israel since its creation in 1948 PA children are taught these are "Palestine". Continuing this ideology a book is cited dedicated to
"...Palestinians, so that they would remember their stolen homeland and work for its salvation..." and it is referring, not to the disputed territories, but all of Israel [Our Beautiful Language, sixth grade, Part A, p. 112].
Educating children not to recognize Israel's existence is cemented through tens of maps in the schoolbooks in which Palestine encompass all of Israel. Israel does not exist on any map, within any borders. The PA defense of its schoolbook map -- that since there are no final borders the map is not portraying modern Palestine but Mandatory Palestine -- is an insult to our intelligence. Are we expected to believe that when Palestinian children see the map called "Palestine" in all their schoolbooks, they imagine Britain a half a century ago? And when Beersheba is called "Palestine", the children are picturing Biblical history?
Another new book teaches what must be done for "occupied Palestine" and the stolen homeland:
"Islam encourages this [love of homeland] and established the defense of it as an obligatory commandment for every Muslim if even a centimeter of his land is stolen. I, a Palestinian Muslim, love my country Palestine..." [Islamic Education, sixth grade, Part A, p. 68]
The complete and total message Palestinian children are taught is that Jews, according to Allah, are like "donkeys"; Israel is a colonial occupier who stole their land; the cities, lakes and deserts of Israel are "occupied Palestine"; and they, the children, have an obligation to liberate it even if a centimeter is stolen.
All the above messages are found in new schoolbooks written and published by the PA since 2000. The first claim, that new PA books have fixed the problems, is thus flagrantly untrue.
However, half of the books still in use by the PA schools are books they republish under the symbol of their own Ministry of Education, that were written by Jordan. These books include the following hate promotion:
The continued inclusion of these hate teachings in the PA school system, is inexcusable. The PA justification that they were written by Jordan is of no importance. The child learning that "Jews are the enemies of the Prophets and the believers" learns that hatred of Jews is God's will, regardless of who the writer was.
The second PA claim, that Israel used the same old books is a falsehood. Indeed, Israel did use Jordanian books to educate the local Arab population. However, Israel reprinted the books without the hate education. In fact, Jordan registered a complaint to the UN charging that Israel's changing the schoolbooks was a violation of international law, but the UN checked what Israel had done and approved it. The PA has put back into the old Jordanian books all the hate education that Israel had removed.
Moreover, as early as three years ago, foreign governments offered money to the PA to reprint these old books without the hateful material. The PA turned down the money and refused to reprint them using a variety of arguments. These hateful Jordanian books are republished today, unedited by the PA by choice, and the PA must stop passing responsibility onto others for the hate content.
Finally, it should be stressed that all the new books cited here were written during the most optimistic periods of the peace process, before the violence began in September 2000. They are not a reflection of the war, but the hatred they have taught, is a paramount contributing factor to the war.
The PA is planting the seeds of the next war in their youth, and it is incumbent upon those European governments who give political and financial support to the PA, to demand the immediate expunging of all hate material from PA schoolbooks. Indeed, the simple step of conditioning all aid to the Palestinians on the elimination of hatred from their schoolbooks would be one of the most important steps that could be taken to promote peace in the Middle East today.
Itamar Marcus, Israeli Delegate [Media Specialist] to the Tri-Lateral Anti incitement Committee (1-6 1999). Mr. Marcus is the director of Palestinian Media Watch. Mr. Marcus was appointed by Israel Government as the Israeli representative to the Trilateral [Israeli- Palestinian- American] anti Incitement Committee established under the Wye Accords. From 1998 - 2000, Mr. Marcus served as director of research for the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, writing reports on Palestinian, Syrian and Jordanian Schoolbooks. Mr. Marcus recently gave testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, Sub-Committee on Education [Oct. 30, 2003] documenting the incitement in PA education and television. In 2000 he gave testimony in the Israeli Knesset Education Committee, comparing Palestinian, Syrian and Jordanian school books in a special session on Arab Anti Semitism.