Palestinian textbooks continue to encourage violence, anti-Semitism, and anti-Israel sentiments, a study carried out by Impact-SE, a monitor of educational curricula, has found.
“The word ‘peace’ does not appear at all,” wrote Impact-SE in its report, which surveyed 78 Palestinian Authority texts for grades 1 through 12, after reviewing references to the Oslo Accords. “The State of Israel, with one exception, never actually appears on maps. … According to the curriculum, ‘Israeli occupation’ refers to Israel proper, meaning that Israel is a territory for Palestinian settlement defined as the Return, and not expected to occur peacefully.”
The practical impact of this omission is that a Palestinian student won’t learn in school that the Palestinian Liberation Organization committed to recognizing Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, as well as to a peaceful solution to the conflict that will be reached through negotiations, the report observed.
Instead, the curricula is peppered with problematic sentences, such as this one from an eighth-grade textbook that encourages jihad: “Oh brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and jihad and sacrifice are necessary.” Religious hatred also remains in educational materials, mainly in textbooks used for sharia studies, which are controlled by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education.
Without a message of peace, the Palestinian education system implements “a curriculum of war and struggle aimed at preparing young Palestinians to fight continuously for the elimination of Israel,” the report continued. Impact-SE evaluated the textbooks using UNESCO’s standards for teaching peace and tolerance.
“We hope to be able to discuss with those who influence the curriculum of the Palestinian Authority that education is both the most efficient method of promulgating extremist narrative and influences, and by far the most powerful tool to puncture them,” Marcus Sheff, CEO of Impact-SE, told The Jerusalem Post. “We would very much want them to choose the latter and educate for peace and tolerance,” observing that there had been signs of improvement between the time of Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004 and Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.
The report also noted some improvements in the textbooks, specifically in the areas of “gender issues, civil society, the environment, respect for the ‘other’ Muslim or Arab, and respect for people with disabilities and the elderly.” There were even some minor improvements regarding Israel, including the removal of pictures of Palestinian “martyrs” covered in the Palestinian flag being brought for burial. However, the report determined that Palestinian curriculum still promotes the “demonization of Israel and Jews, including the characterization of Israel as an evil entity that should be annihilated.”
Sheff noted that these findings challenge the support that some Palestinian leaders verbally express for a two-state solution. “In recent years we have seen a tendency on the part of Palestinian leaders and the international community to declare that they are promoting a two-state solution, in addition, of course, to the Oslo Accords,” he noted. “Yet the same Palestinian government’s Ministry of Education appears to be promoting exactly the opposite.”
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