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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

'Villains and snakes'

The level of anti-Semitic vitriol in 'Palestinian' school textbooks has risen since Hamas won the 'Palestinian' elections in January 2006, according to a report published by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) and the American Jewish Committee. But then the level rose between 2000-2004 too. Only during the year 2005 did the level of hatred decline and then only in a 'nuanced' manner. The report looked at 120 textbooks published between 2000-2006.
The report reflects charges by Israelis that Palestinian textbooks are not in keeping with a peace process that started in 1993. Palestinians counter that Jewish Israeli students are not taught about Palestinian suffering.

Arnon Groiss, author of the report, "Palestinian Textbooks: From Arafat to Abbas and Hamas" said most of the textbooks from grade one to 10, issued under the late Yasser Arafat's rule, did not acknowledge any historical Jewish presence in ancient Palestine, nor does modern-day Israel appear on maps. Jews are vilified as schemers and killers.

But in grade 11 books issued under Abbas, there are two maps showing Israel within the so-called "green line" - the cease-fire line before the 1967 war, when Israel captured east Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The textbooks issued under Abbas' rule also include a discussion of Jewish history in the region, the report said.

However, in 2006, the Islamist Hamas came to power and issued a grade 12 textbook that dramatically reversed those steps. Jews are likened to snakes, and fighting for the sake of Palestine is praised effusively.
Unfortunately, the report indicates that in every grade except for Grade 11, the 'Palestinians' are still being taught to hate Jews, fifteen years after the Olso Declaration of Principles. What's worse, the report [PDF link. CiJ] attempts to blame the long-gone Yasser Arafat and Hamas for most of those textbooks, claiming that the Grade 11 textbook issued by Abu Mazen is acceptable. But while that textbook makes some 'nuanced' changes, it is still far from acceptable.
Mixed with anti-Semitic sentiments in the textbooks are genuine Palestinian complaints against Israel, including settlement building in areas Palestinians want for their future state, and the Israeli separation barrier, which often significantly deviates from the "green line." [Those aren't 'legitimate' complaints. The 'Palestinians' have no right to that land, which was designated as part of a mandate for a Jewish state before the 'Palestinians' ever arrived here, which was occupied by Jordan from 1948-67, and which was liberated by Israel in a defensive war. As to the fence, it exists for one reason and one reason only: to prevent 'Palestinian' terror attacks. CiJ].

"Palestinian grievances are legitimate - they were harshly hurt by Israel," said Groiss. "But if (Jewish Israelis) are only presented through that prism, that's wrong. We can't see any balance," he said. [And that's why this report is so 'nuanced.' It was written by an apologist for Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel. CiJ]

Jamal Zakkout, spokesman for Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, said Palestinian textbooks should emphasize connection to the land "and a call for tolerance."

But Zakkout said the main cause Palestinian ill will toward Israel is not textbooks, but Israel's many checkpoints in the West Bank, the separation barrier and military operations in Palestinian towns. [All of which have drastically reduced terror attacks against Israelis since 2004. CiJ]
Arafat died in November 2004. Why have no textbooks been replaced in Grades 1-10 since then? How long does it take to publish a textbook? They seem to publish an average of twenty per year: Why are only the Grade 11 textbooks even moderately acceptable? After ten years of being educated that Israel is not legitimate, how much help is one year of textbooks that are less hostile. It's very easy to blame Hamas for textbooks published in 2006, but for more than a year now, Hamas' rule has been restricted to Gaza. What's happened since then? And the Grade 11 textbooks are far from ideal either. This is from the report:
Within the aforementioned general fundamentals, one can find some change of tone in the books for grade 11, prepared under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas (2005). This shift may indicate [or may not. CiJ] an attempt to provide an initial platform for subsequent departure from the old worldview established by Yasir Arafat. Following is a brief description of the main changes.

For the first time the Palestinian student is given a relatively substantial amount of information about ancient Jewish history in Palestine. Also, Jerusalem is mentioned as the Jews’ capital for that period, a phenomenon not to be encountered in former books. The Jews are mentioned once as inhabitants of the city in 1948, while former books had denied them that status and made Jerusalem an exclusively Arab city founded by the ancient “Arab” Jebusites and occupied by the Jews today. On the other hand, no connection is made between the Jews’ presence in the country in antiquity and their present aspirations there; and Jerusalem is presented as an Arab city occupied by them. There is no change regarding the Jewish holy places either, as none of them is recognized as such.

In addition, the Jewish presence in the country today is given some legitimacy by showing Tel Aviv and other modern Jewish cities on one of the maps (though their names appear so small that one needs a magnifying glass in order to read them).


Israel is still not recognized as a sovereign state, but there are two maps in which its name appears within its pre-1967 territory. These are Israeli maps reproduced in a PA history textbook for grade 11.


It might be tempting to conclude that it was easier for the PA publishers simply to leave the name as it appeared on an Israeli-made map than to add the word “Israel” on a Palestinian one. But they could have as easily erased it, as indeed they did in former years, when a Hebrew inscription was erased from a stamp of British Mandatory times reproduced in a PA textbook (see pg. 4). Moreover, side by side with former circumlocutions such as “the lands of 1948,” one also finds in the text the name “Israel,” denoting Israeli pre-1967 territory as opposed to the territories of the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


More importantly, the books for grade 11 do not refer much to the Jewish-Muslim rivalry in Arabia in the era of early Islam, thus reducing the number of anti-Jewish expressions. This is not the case vis-à-vis Israel, which is still blamed for various ills and damages suffered by the Palestinians. But the tone of the accusations is more rationalistic than emotional, possibly reducing the level of hatred. [Possibly? Sounds like he's fishing for something positive to say. CiJ] Such nuances of change and softening have not been evident regarding attitudes toward the West under PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Rather, the opposite is the case. One can discern an intensification of the negative attitude to the West compared to former books—not in language per se, but in presenting the student with much more “incriminating” material about the West’s perceived crimes. [I'm sure all you Westerners will be please to hear that the $7.4 billion man is educating his children to hate you. CiJ]


As regards the attitude to peace, there is still no open advocacy of peace with Israel, although the story of the peace process is told in great detail. On the other hand, there is a clear decrease in the number of texts referring to the liberation struggle and to jihad and martyrdom. In addition, the issue of tolerance, formerly taught in PA schools with reference to Muslim-Christian relations only, now includes, in principle, the Jews as well.
It sounds like even the Grade 11 books have further to go than they have come. And they aren't likely to be 'upgraded' anytime soon either. Bottom line: After fifteen years nothing has changed in 'Palestinian' education about Israel and Jews (and the West for that matter). And nothing is likely to change either.


At 7:58 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Yeah - just give them a reichlet and the torrent of Jew hatred from them will miraculously stop.


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