To the Editor:
Roger Avenstrup (“Where is all that incitement?” IHT, December 18-19, 2004) blithely writes that the 2003 report of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) contends that the overall orientation of the Palestinian curriculum is “peaceful”. Curiously enough, however, when one goes to the IPCRI website, a different message is given. What the IPCRI actually says there, for all to see, is that “Until now, the Palestinian Authority text books have not provided evidence that the Palestinian Authority has been implementing a policy of peace making.” They go on to say, “…it is not difficult to come to the understanding that the main political theme imparted to the students is that Israel should not exist and that is essentially the Palestinian goal.”
The IPCRI reports carefully state the opposite of what Avenstrup claims. The words are clear: “IPCRI sought to be constructive and to offer recommendations and suggestions for placing Palestinian education in line with a desire to make peace with Israel. Our conclusion is that the Palestinian Ministry of Education was not prepared to pick up the challenge.”
Avenstrup’s mention of the Georg Eckert Institute’s research is also disingenuous. Their conclusions are actually as follows: “the completion of analyses of curricula and textbooks … failed.” Rather than reaching the definitive conclusions Avenstrup’s alludes to, they state “it was not possible to work out recommendations for a common concept of teaching materials for the future.”
My own research, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, chronicles how Palestinian universities have openly praised terrorists and glorified terrorism, as exemplified by an exhibition at An-Najah University by Hamas that featured a mock-up of a suicide attack that took place in Jerusalem, complete with dummies and limbs to represent the Israeli victims.
When the Palestinian Ministry of Education refers to suicide terrorists as “martyrs”, it is difficult to reconcile Avenstrup’s quote of a Palestinian parent that “teachers are trying to promote peace in the classroom” with reality. Rather than whitewash what is a woefully inadequate curriculum for peace, Avenstrup would do well to read the reports he quotes in greater detail.
Irwin J. Mansdorf, PhD
December 19, 2004
The writer is the author of “From Gaza to Harvard: the politicization of mental health and the education of Palestinian children”, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 1-15 September 2004 and director of the Jerusalem Project for Democracy in the Middle East.
3 Nachshon Street