How can Israel hope for peace when young Palestinians are brainwashed with textbooks calling for the extermination of the Jewish people?
A survey of new textbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and used by Palestinian students, shows that they continue to express the same basic principles that appeared in previous textbooks: delegitimizing the state of Israel, encouraging violence and omitting any trace of encouragement for peace.
The books, which are strongly hostile to Israel and the Jewish people, are also used by UNRWA-run schools.
This latest report updates the previous study about how Jews, Israel and peace appear in PA textbooks. The study was conducted by Dr. Arnon Groiss and commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research, directed by David Bedein.
The previous study was based on 150 textbooks dealing with various subjects, most of which were printed in the PA between 2013 and 2017.
The current study covers 118 textbooks, the vast majority of which were published in 2017 and replaced most of the textbooks in use in 2016.
Palestinian Education Means Hostility to Israel
The study’s findings are similar to other studies on Palestinian textbooks conducted during the past decade. The studies repeatedly show the presence of hostility to Israel in the Palestinian educational system, which is a function of the ethos on which generations of Palestinians have been raised, including the current generation.
That ethos has led to a culture of hatred for the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and fuels the incitement, terrorism and ongoing violent struggle against Israel, Dr. (Col. Ret.) Reuven Erlich, of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) wrote.
A similar recent analysis conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education group into PA school textbooks concluded that they provoke “young Palestinians to acts of violence in a more extensive and sophisticated manner,” and that “the curriculum’s focus appears to have expanded from demonization of Israel to providing a rationale for war.”
According to the PA textbooks, Jews have no rights whatsoever or legitimate status in the country. They are referred to as occupiers. The Jews’ national movement in modern times – Zionism – is presented as a “political-colonialist movement” with “greedy ambitions.”
The new schoolbooks continue their predecessors’ line that systematically denies the existence of any Jewish holy places in the country. The Kotel, Western Wall, in Jerusalem is presented as an exclusively Muslim holy place under the name Al-Buraq Wall.
No Coexistence with Israel
While the PA schoolbooks are not utterly devoid of peace advocacy and do speak negatively in a general way about wars, peace is referred to as a universal ideal, with no mention whatsoever of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict in this context.
None of the PA textbooks, including the ones used in UNRWA schools, advocate peace and coexistence with Israel, or even hint at the possibility of solving the conflict peacefully. Indeed, Israel is delegitimized and demonized to such a degree that one cannot perceive it as a partner for peaceful coexistence.
Consequently, there is only one solution to the conflict dealt with in the books used by all Palestinian schools: violent struggle for the liberation of the whole of “Palestine,” which means the total destruction of Israel.
In other words, the Palestinian curriculum features war indoctrination – instead of peace education.
It should be emphasized that the new books, which have been published by the PA since 2016 and accepted for teaching by UNRWA, are generally more radical than their predecessors.
One prominent feature is their systematic avoidance of the use of Israel’s name, even in its numerous demonizing descriptions – contrary to what used to be done before 2016. Now, Israel is referred to in the vast majority of cases as “the Zionist occupation”, and the “the Arab-Israeli conflict” has been renamed “the Arab-Zionist conflict”.
Even Israel’s membership in the UN organization is referred to by a similar epithet: “The representative of the Occupation State at the UN.”
Another feature of the new PA schoolbooks is the total elimination of any former reference to the Jews’ presence in the country in antiquity. In pre-2016 PA schoolbooks such presence was mentioned several times.
This new approach of eliminating any reference to the Jews’ presence in the country in antiquity has been given an ideological reasoning in the new books, namely, denying the rival party’s historical “narrative” as a means to strengthening one’s own one: “The Zionist occupation targets our history and existence. It turns the facts and the historical events upside down, falsifies and distorts them, and weaves a false history that corresponds to its goals.”
A Very Disturbing Picture
In conclusion, the examination of the textbooks used by UNRWA in its schools reveals a very disturbing picture: Israel is denied legitimacy. Its very establishment in 1948 by virtue of a UN resolution in 1947 is described as occupation. Israeli cities, such as Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and Ramleh, are described as Palestinian cities under Zionist occupation.
Jewish presence in the country is denied historically, geographically and religiously, as no reference is made in the books to Jewish history in the country in antiquity, no Jewish established cities are shown on the map and Jewish holy places are presented as Muslim ones usurped by the Zionists.
Jews are denied any connection to their ancient capital Jerusalem which is presented as an Arab city since its establishment thousands of years ago, way before Islam came into existence. Moreover, the Jews’ very presence in Jerusalem today is presented as an aggression against the city’s Arab character.
Both Jews and Israel are severely demonized. Jews are even demonized outside of the context of the conflict on the grounds of their political rivalry with the Prophet of Islam.
Abusive expressions are used in the description of both Israel and the Jews within the conflict, and the Jewish/Israeli “other” is presented as a group only – with the accompanying connotations of alienation and threat – rather than ordinary human beings.
In addition, no objective information is provided in the books about Israel or the Jews that would counterbalance their demonized portrayal.
Beyond specific accusations against the Jewish/Israeli “other,” including the use of wild boars to damage Palestinians’ crops, it is portrayed as an existential threat to the Palestinian individual who is heavily victimized, in his turn.
Islamic traditional concepts, such as Jihad and martyrdom, are used by the Palestinian educators in order to make that violent struggle more binding among the students who mostly come from a relatively traditional society. Another concept, that of the Right of Return, is also made part and parcel of the violent struggle for the liberation of the whole of Palestine.
Still more horrible are the texts in the new PA schoolbooks adopted by UNRWA that talk about the extermination of Israel’s surviving Jews after Palestine’s supposed liberation, describing the burning of Jews in a civilian bus attacked by Molotov cocktails as a “barbecue party” and expressing reverence for a terrorist who murdered over 30 Israeli civilians in another bus.
Teaching such items by UNRWA undoubtedly borders on the realm of incitement to committing war crimes.
“This list of items taught in UNRWA schools is incriminating. Beyond UNRWA’s obvious betrayal of its moral obligation toward the Palestinian children and youths’ human rights and well-being, by letting the PA preparie them for a future war against Israel, this UN agency breaks all UN principles of world peace and peaceful coexistence,” the report charges.
In fact, the huge accumulated number of UNRWA’s indoctrinated graduates throughout its almost seven decades of operation in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the West Bank and Gaza – over 2,000,000 altogether – is the Agency’s contribution to the perpetuation of the conflict.
The report calls for UNRWA to change its ways and for its democratic donor states to take immediate action to see to it that UNRWA complies with UN principles regarding peace and coexistence in the Middle East.