Israel and the Jews
the Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority
A group of specialists in the Arabic language examined 140 textbooks currently in use and authorized by the Ministry of Education of the Palestinian Authority. The textbooks cover all grades of public education (1 to 12), and are directed at the teaching of Civics, Grammar, Literature, History, Geography and Islamic Studies. Examiners selected statements reflecting attitudes or evaluations of Israel, Jews, Judaism and Zionism, but selections were made only if these were recurrent statements that could be considered typical themes expressed in the book. The main question asked here is: Can the general orientation toward Israel and the Jews taught to the schoolchildren of the Palestinian Authority serve as a basis for a genuine rapprochement between Palestinian Arabs and the Jews? Isn't such a relationship expected on the basis of the Oslo and Wye River accords? Do the schoolbooks of the PA reflect a different orientation than the hostile behavior and propaganda directed by the Arabs toward Israel and the Jews over most of the 20th century, or is education in the Palestinian Authority a continuation of the old policies?
The message of the PA's schoolbooks is expressed loud and clear, and incessantly, needing no sophisticated interpretation. Israel and the Jews are the enemy of the Palestinians, of the Arabs, of Islam, and, for that matter, of humanity. Every Moslem is duty bound to engage in Jihad (Holy War) against the conqueror of Arab soil, and against the enemy of Islam. Jihad means that each one must be ready to kill and be killed, to sacrifice life and limb, as well as one's property, for the sake of Allah, knowing that anyone who dies in battle for Islam will be rewarded in Paradise. This reward promises fame and endless orgiastic indulgence with droves of virgin maidens, drowned in limitless quantities of alcoholic beverages forbidden to Moslems on earth. These lessons learned from teachers and books are impressed on the minds and feelings of the Palestinian children by the incessant repetition of public rituals surrounding the funerals of slain terrorists, as well as by the blood-drenched scenes of Jews driving their cars in the territory of the PA who are frequently accosted and stoned (with large boulders) by gangs of juveniles and young men.
A profound change in policy and in the behavior of the PA and its educators, at all levels of education, are prerequisite for establishing any kind of conciliatory atmosphere that could serve as a basis for co-existence between Arabs and Jews living in proximity to one another without perpetual warfare.
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Education, Identity, State Building
and the Peace Process:
Educating Palestinian Children in the Post-Oslo
* Also Policy Paper No. 64
In view of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, and the obligations that the parties undertook to eliminate incitement and hatred, one would expect that the media and textbooks written for children in the Palestinian school system would be free of all hostile statements and prejudices against Jews, Zionism and Israel. Moreover, exactly as Israel has promoted in its schools since Oslo the values of peace, coexistence, sharing and partnership, it was hoped that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would act likewise.
The reality has shown quite the reverse. In the textbooks produced, sponsored or adopted by the PA in the years 1996-1998, anti-Jewish stereotypes, anti-Israeli and anti-Western statements of hatred seem as prevalent when compared with the textbooks obtained among Palestinian children during the years of Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza. But while prior to Oslo the Palestinians could claim that they had inherited those books from the Jordanian and Egyptian school systems, the new textbooks are all of Palestinian origin and they all date from the post-Oslo period.
This paper examines the official Palestinian attitudes and positions in three domains, all relevant to the perpetuation of hatred and hostility on the part of the Palestinian Authority towards Israel, and to the indoctrination of Palestinian youth and media in such an ominous way as to minimize the chance that these attitudes might be reversed in the future.
- Israel is systematically demonized, delegitimized and dehumanized, and the texts selected to educate the children leave no doubt as to the total rejection of the Jews and of Israel, now and in the future.
- As a measure of self-defense, and in an attempt to escape the painful reality of the success of the West and Israel in the real world, contrary to their derogation in the textbooks, the Palestinians embark on a campaign of self-aggrandizement that often mixes fantasy with reality.
- The Palestinian Authority not only negates its rivals but also positively imparts to its children the notions of
Jihad (Holy War) and Istishhad (Martyrdom) in order to instigate them to sacrifice their lives on the altar of Palestinian convictions and ambitions.