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PMW op-ed in International Herald Tribune: PA schoolbooks teach Palestinians to hate
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The Palestinian schoolbooks:
Planting seeds of the next war

by Itamar Marcus

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 tragic disappointment. Instead of seizing the opportunity to educate future generations to live with Israel in peace, the PA has done everything in its power to teach hatred to young minds.

Compounding the problem is that ever since the hatred in the Palestinian textbooks has been exposed and world pressure has been mounting to eliminate the hatred, various defenders of the PA curriculum have surfaced, trying to legitimize this problematic educational system. The truth is that the PA schoolbooks, both old and new, incite to hatred, violence and anti-Semitism, and it's tragic that their defenders are enabling the PA to avoid necessary peace education.

Anti-Semitism in presented openly in PA education. In the new 6th grade book Reading the Koran, children read about Allah's warning to the Jews that because of their evil Allah will kill them: "...Oh you who are Jews, if you think that you are favored of Allah... Then 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..." [1]

And while the Koran and Islam are certainly not under scrutiny here, it is tragic that although the Koran and Islam have positive traditions regarding Jews, the PA educators have chosen to incorporate only hateful religious traditions. PA children are left with the impression that that the Koran sees the Jews as an enemy of God, and consequently their enemy as well.

In the new textbooks, Israel is de-legitimized as a state. Israel is portrayed as a foreign colonial occupier: "Colonialism: Palestine faced the British occupation after the First World War in 1917, and the Israeli occupation in 1948..." [2] Once Israel is an "occupation" it is a logical step to define all of Israel's cities, regions and natural resources as being part of "Palestine," including the Beersheba, the Negev, the Sea of Galilee.[3] Israel's land is called the "stolen homeland," Israel's creation the "catastrophe" and an encyclopedia is cited that was written for "...Palestinians, so that they would remember their stolen homeland and work for its salvation..."[4]

This teaching to not recognize Israel's existence is cemented through dozens of maps in the schoolbooks in which "Palestine" encompasses all of Israel. The argument that the map is not modern "Palestine" but "Mandatory Palestine" is an insult to our intelligence. Children reading these schoolbooks believe they are looking at maps that reflect the current situation, not maps and pictures of British territory more than half a century ago.

Completing the dangerous messages of the new books is the teaching that it is a religious obligation for Israel to be destroyed:

"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..."[5]

The complete 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 the Palestinian children are learning that they have an obligation to liberate it "even if a centimeter is stolen."

The result of this delegitimization is a belief, frequently expressed by Palestinian children, that justice can be achieved only through Israel's destruction. Speaking on PA TV, a 14-year-old boy explained: "The Israelis [came] from Holland, America, Iran. They [the Jews] came to take Palestine, that is Tel-Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Ramle. All these cities belong to Palestine. We must expel all Israelis from Palestine. Because Israel - there is nothing called Israel in the world." [PA TV Dec. 25, 2003]

Having never seen Israel on a map in school or on television, this intelligent 14-year-old has concluded, "There is nothing called Israel in the world."

Finally it should be stressed that all the new Palestinian schoolbooks cited here were written during the most optimistic periods of the peace process, before the violence began in September 2000. They are not a response to the war but an expression of dangerous ideology that has to be replaced if there will ever be peace. The ongoing attempts to defend these PA schoolbooks are tragic, as the PA is using these arguments to justify its education, and to refuse to improve their books. The PA is planting the seeds of the next war in its youth. The defenders of PA hate education are protecting and nurturing those seeds of war.

** Itamar Marcus is Director of Palestinian Media Watch, was Israeli representative to the Tri - Lateral Anti Incitement Committee established under the Wye accords, and has written reports on Palestinian Authority, Syrian and Jordanian schoolbooks.

***

[1] [Reading the Koran, grade 6. p.20, 23, 78]
[2] [National Education, sixth grade, p. 16]
[3] [Our Beautiful Language, grade 6, Part A, p. 64, National Education, sixth grade, pp. 9-10]
[4] [Our Beautiful Language, sixth grade, Part A, p. 112]
[5] [Islamic Education, sixth grade, Part A, p. 68]


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