A new textbook study from the Germany-based Mideast Freedom Forum shows yet again that the Palestinian Authority textbooks - which are used by UNRWA - are teaching children that "resistance" is their highest aspiration, not peace.
From the preface by Michael Leutert, Member of the German Parliament:
When years ago for the first time as a Member of the German Parliament I had the opportunity to get a picture on the spot, the following scene happened in the Gaza Strip: Our delegation crossed a market place on our way to the next appointment. We MPs talked with the merchants and passers-by. A merchant posed the following question as a farewell: „Why did you not finish your job to the end?“ he said, obviously meaning the annihilation of the Jews.
The example illustrates how important it is for a mutual understanding between Jews and Arabs, to clarify how the state of Israel was created and why various conflicts subsist. It is for this reason that the content of teaching conveyed in the subjects of history and geography at Palestinian schools has great relevancy. There the crucial fundamentals are taught, that are passed on to the next generations who bear responsibility in the near future.
And it is because of our (co-) funding for UNRWA and for many other projects in the Palestinian territories, that we bear responsibility for the content of teaching.
And from the findings themselves:
- • The surveyed textbooks consistently portray Jews in a strongly negative manner, and often demonize them. Jews are rarely individuated, but instead are subsumed into a stereotype or the concept of Zionism.
- • The textbooks reveal serious omissions regarding Jews within the historical context of Palestine. They first appear as Zionist colonizers and settlers at the end of the nineteenth century.
- • The effect of this is that the Jewish presence in modern Israel is delegitimized.
- • Jewish and Israeli places, as well as the State of Israel as a whole, are not found on maps included in the textbooks. The existence of Israel is denied.
- • Instead, the maps label the area inside the modern borders of Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza, as ‚Palestine‘.
- • The terminology with which the books refer to Jews and Israelis is not neutral, but often pejorative. The contrast between them and Palestinians akin to that is between evil and good. The Palestinian resistance against Jews is glorified.
...Both the negative portrayal of Jews and of the Palestinian actions which are applauded are problematic. None of the surveyed textbooks feature an appeal for mutual understanding, but descriptions of armed resistance are numerous, and implicitly praise conflict.26 For instance, Israel is depicted as an occupying regime (sultatu l-ih‘tilal)27 or as a Zionist terror organization (al-munathama al-irhabiya as-sah‘yuniya). 28 Jewish settlements are described with explicitly negative terms as Mus‘tautana and Musta‘amar.29 Palestinians are cast as the native people (as-sukan al-asliyun) of the area who resist (qawama) the aggressor.30 This resistance is glorified with terms as sacrifice (tad‘hiya) and martyrdom (istish‘had). Palestinians killed in conflict figure as martyrs (shuhada). 31
The textbooks use the term Jihad only in its limited sense of a struggle against an adversary. Its broader reference to an inner struggle for faith is not present. This language extends throughout the curriculum: a textbook intended for children in Grade 2 already stresses the significance of martyrs and prisoners, and encourages pupils to visit the families of martyrs on Independence Day.32 Members of Palestinian resistance organizations are referred to as Fida‘i (self-sacrificing warriors)33 or Thuw‘war (revolutionaries).34 The idea of Fida‘i is celebrated in the Palestinian anthem, which is printed in a textbook for the first grade.35
...In fact, in various sections of the textbooks, even Israel‘s territory within the ‚Green Line‘ of the 1949 Armistice borders is not recognized, and as a general rule they refrain from using the term ‚Israel‘, preferring „the Lands of 1948“.39 In lower grades, images replace words to illustrate the Palestinian claim to these territories (see figure 10).
The study found a few instances of antisemitism in textbooks as well, although it was not pervasive:
The representation of Israelis and Jews cannot be evaluated as balanced. From an historical perspective, the Jewish „other“ appears as an antagonist; adversaries to Mohammed. The next time they appear in history is as ‚occupiers‘ in the context of the Jewish national movement, Zionism, at the end of the nineteenth century. In most cases, Jews figure as aggressive, violent colonialists, who were able to occupy Palestine with the aid of Great Britain, and who occupy it still. The separation of Palestine following the UN resolution of 1947 is pictured as „occupation“ (ih‘tilal) and as illegal, violent, land seizure (igh‘tisab). 11 The Jewish immigration to Palestine is described as „colonising greed“ (alat‘ma‘a al-istitaniya) which aims to take the place of the native population (as-sukan al-asliyun) after their eviction (tard) and extermination (iba‘da). 12
Anti-Semitic stereotypes such as ‚greed‘ or ‚financial temptations‘ exist, but are quite rare. For instance, the textbooks suggest that Zionists should have tried to convince the Ottoman Sultan Abdelhamid II to allow Jews to migrate to Palestine by offering material incentives (al-igh‘ra‘at al-madiya). 14 It is also claimed that ‚Zionism‘ relocated its ‚headquarters‘ from London to New York since it controls (fi aydi l-harakat as-sahyunia) many of media outlets and important parts of the US economy.15 In this way, the textbooks perpetuate elements of popular anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.The Palestinian Authority and UNRWA are responsible for teaching generations of Palestinians to hate Israel and Jews.
And they should be held responsible.
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