Palestinian Authority school books continue to promote violence and demonization of Israel and Jews.
“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, which carried out the study, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“We would very much want them to choose the latter and educate for peace and tolerance,” Sheff said.
“There was a moment after Arafat died [in 2004] and before Hamas won the parliamentary elections in 2006 that the curriculum improved. Change then is clearly possible,” he added.
“In curricula it is, of course, important to refrain from inciting to hatred and to promote standards for peace, tolerance and mutual respect. This is also necessary for the well-being of children in the Palestinian Authority,” he said.
The study found encouraging signs relating to gender issues, civil society, the environment, respect for the “other” Muslim or Arab, and respect for people with disabilities and the elderly.
However, the curricula convey a message rejecting negotiations with Israel and promote a strategy combining violence and international pressure against Israel.
It also promotes the “demonization of Israel and Jews, including the characterization of Israel as an evil entity that should be annihilated,” the report found.
Impact-SE, founded in 1998 and based in Jerusalem, is a research center that monitors and analyzes education around the world and determines compliance according to UNESCO standards for tolerance.
The report compares the current situation with a 2011 survey of PA school curricula. The study was carried out by Dr. Eldad Pardo of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and focuses on 78 textbooks in a variety of subjects for grades 1 to 12.
Examples of positive developments include a picture of a boy and a girl sitting together on a bench and studying. The picture, in a sixth-grade science textbook, is notable because while the girl is dressed modestly, she is not wearing a hijab hair covering.
While the textbooks do promote protecting the environment, they ignore cooperation with Israel in this area and even blame the Jewish state for environmental damage.
One improvement in the curriculum from 2001 to 2009 was the removal of images such as that of a shahid, or “martyr,” on his way to burial and covered by a Palestinian flag.
Another was the removal of an inciting sentence from a 2013 edition of an Arabic language textbook for grade 12: “The Messenger of God [The Prophet Muhammad] instructed Zayd ibn Thabit to learn the language of the Jews so that he would be safe from their deception.”
However, problematic sentences remain, such as this from a sixth-grade textbook, History of the Arabs and Muslims: “The brave warrior prefers death to humiliation and capitulation.”
Sheff commented, “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. Yet the same Palestinian government’s Ministry of Education appears to be promoting exactly the opposite.”
Israel still does not appear on textbook maps (with one exception), and the entire area from the Jordan Valley to the Mediterranean Sea is marked as Palestine. In addition, the Israeli “occupation” is mentioned in reference to the area inside the Green Line, i.e. all of Israel.
A seventh-grade textbook, Our Beautiful Language, refers to pre-1967 Israel as “occupied” and as “The Return,” where Palestinians will settle in the future.
In a problematic image appearing in the National Education textbook for second grade, the Hebrew letters are removed from a trilingual stamp from the British Mandate period.
And a sentence from a PA eighth-grade textbook, Reading and Texts, encourages students to wage jihad: “Oh brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and jihad and sacrifice are necessary.”
Religious hatred and violence are promoted in Shari’a studies such as a passage also found in the Hamas Covenant, calling for the murder of Jews: “The End of Days will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims will kill them…”