Institute for Monitoring Peace And Cultural Tolerance-School Education
In doing some research on recent statements by Salaam Fayad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, I came across this NGO. Their sole job is to monitor textbooks and educational curricula around the world.
They have done studies in many places, from around the middle east and Asia. Their latest report is about Tunisia.
Their concept is to determine how a society’s educational institutions deal with the idea of the “other” i.e. those who are either political enemies, or foreign sources of conflict socially.
Not surprisingly, they have done recent reports on both Israeli, and Palestinian schools.
One of the reasons that I supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries was a speech she gave some time ago discussing the preconditions for any Two state settlement. She was the first politician on a national level that I had heard discuss the necessity of changing the culture of violence that permeates Palestinians society. And to begin that process of change she said, we need to demand a change in the way Palestinians treat, and educate their children.
These poor youngsters are indoctrinated from birth in a culture of hate and death, and while I have been talking about this for years, I had never heard it recognized before by someone in the position to do something about it.
So, the results of IMPACT’s study? No surprise here. But I will let you read the conclusions about the Palestinian texts:
As it happened, the books for grades 1-10 were all prepared and published under YasirArafat, while the books for grade 11 were written under his successor, Abbas, and the books for grade 12, under the Hamas government. The PA schoolbooks for grades 11 and 12 were studied in the light of the educational fundamentals regarding the “other” and peace that existed in the PA textbooks for grades 1-10 published under the late Yasser Arafat. As shown in this study, these fundamentals deny the Jewish and Israeli “others” any legitimacy, demonize them, assign them exclusive responsibility for the Mideast conflict, avoid any expression that would openly advocate peace, and encourage instead violent struggle againstthem. These fundamentals, in their various manifestations, are spread throughout the Palestinian curriculum and are found in books for all grades, as is easily discernable in the quoted source material within this study.
This report covers the school textbooks of the last two grades of the PA educational system, which were published in 2005 and 2006, thus ending a seven-year process in which the PA replaced the old Jordanian and Egyptian schoolbook for all grades with its own ones. While the books for grades 1-10 were all written and published under the late PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, the books for grade 11 were written under his successor Mahmud Abbas and the books for grade 12 were written under the Hamas government, which may account for the changes therein.
In fact, the books of grade 11 provide us with several significant changes, compared to the guidelines governing earlier books. The fundamentals have not changed, to be sure, and they are as follows:
- Rejection of any rights the Jews might have in Palestine.
- Non-recognition of their holy places there, which are presented as Muslim holy places the Jews aspire to take over.
- The Jews themselves are presented in negative light both in the historical context and in the context of the present conflict.
- The Jewish national movement in modern times – Zionism – is presented as an expansionist movement created by Western Imperialism and striving to seize control of Arab lands between the Euphrates and the Nile rivers.
- Israel is not referred to as a sovereign state. Its establishment in 1948 is referred to as “occupation”. The books consider Palestine the sole legitimate sovereign state between River Jordan and the Mediterranean.
- Regions within Israel’s pre-1967 borders are presented as Palestinian.
Israel is demonized by a long list of accusations presenting it as a source of evil, not as a neighbor with its own legitimate rights and interests. The list of its perceived crimes includes its very establishment, occupation of various parts of Palestine, expulsion of the Palestinian people from its homeland, massacres, assassination of Palestinian leaders, aggression against Arab neighboring countries, destruction of Palestinian economy, even responsibility for the meager participation of Palestinian women in economic activity, for Palestinian social ills – such as drug abuse and illiteracy, for cultural deficiencies, etc. The accompanying term “Imperialist” appears in
this context for the first time, emphasizing Israel’s illegitimate status in the books’ view.
- The conflict is presented in a very biased way as a result of Jewish-British conspiracy against the Arabs. Israel is solely responsible for all its developments.
- The Palestinian refugee problem is presented as a result of Jewish aggression and its only solution is said to be the complete return of the refugees’ descendants to their ancestors’ former homes. The Palestinians’ share of responsibility for the creation of this problem, the mass flight of Jewish refugees from the Arab countries to Israel and the obvious difficulty of the suggested solution are never discussed.
- Peace with Israel is never openly advocated. Even the discussion of the peace process – in some cases in great detail – is devoid of expressions of support. Israel, on its part, is presented as a party acting against peace.
- As before, terrorist actions against Israel are not openly encouraged or rejected but there are indications of implicit support represented by the positive reference to “martyrs”, “prisoners-of-war” and “Fidais” (members of the Palestinian armed organizations).
The conclusions about Israeli textbooks? The conclusion here:
Despite the deterioration in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians since September 2000, no negative changes were noted in the new textbooks with regard to the image of the Arabs, the description of the conflict, the presentation of Islam, questions of war and peace and education to tolerance and conciliation. On the contrary, the positive trends noted in the earlier report have, if anything, been strengthened. There are some innovations, as in a textbook published by the Ministry of Education, which presents the pupils with information on an issue little known even to the majority of the Jews: those Arabs who are the “absent present”1. The textbook also deals with the Israel Lands Law, 5720-1960, and its implications for the Arabs of Israel. A number of textbooks have aroused public controversy by certain groups, who have accused them of “post-Zionism” and “self-hatred”. These textbooks were reviewed in the previous report and with one exception2, are still included in the list approved by the Ministry of Education.
The new textbooks give information about the peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries and the Palestinians, in particular on the question of the borders between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
- Factual presentation of the Arab and Palestinian political position.
- The Palestinians’ struggle is presented as that of a national movement whilst not identifying with their aims.
- The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians continues to be presented as a clash between two national movements, thus legitimizing the existence of the Palestinian national movement. None of the new textbooks contains indoctrination against the Palestinians as a people.
- Islam is presented in a positive light and its doctrines factually explained.
- Information is provided about Muslim holy places and sites holy to both Muslims and Jews. Places holy to the Jews and also held holy by the Muslims or Christians are mentioned. Traditions that have developed around Jewish holy sites or personalities that are shared by both Jews and the Muslims are depicted in one of the textbooks.
- No instance of education to hatred of the Arabs or of any other people was found. In the new editions of literature readers, stories depicting Arabs in a positive light continue to appear. The textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education still include literature readers that contain stories written by Palestinian and other Arab authors.
- No illustrations or caricatures depicting Arabs in a negative light are to be found in the books.
- New elements are introduced to heighten the pupils understanding of the Arab point of view concerning the conflict.
- Textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education continue to present the Palestinian point of view both with regard to the unfolding of the conflict and responsibility for therefugee problem. Some textbooks blame the Arab leadership for bringing about the flight of the Arabs. A new dimension is the reference to towns of mixed Jewish and Arab population and the chain of events that led to the flight of the Arabs from these towns.
- Civics textbooks present the pupil with details of the debate over the national character of the State of Israel: Israel as a Jewish state vis-à-vis Israel as a state for “all its citizens”.
- The national and cultural identity of the Israeli Arabs is discussed in detail.
- The main atlases provide information on Palestinian Authority areas. The atlas most commonly used in the State and State Religious schools continues to include a map which shows the area of the West Bank with its division into Areas A, B and C. In the 2002 edition the map of the areas of the Autonomy is updated to include the latest changes. (see Appendix I)
- In the other atlas the “Area of the Palestinian Autonomy” is colored gray within the map of Israel. On the physical maps in both atlases the political borders with Jordan and Egypt are marked, without any indication of the green line.