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 toward peace. It is for this reason that the entire education apparatus of the Palestinian Authority, both formal and informal, has been such a tragic disappointment. Instead of seizing the opportunity to educate the future generations to live with Israel in peace, the Palestinian Authority has done everything in its power to teach hatred to young minds.
Since the hatred in the Palestinian textbooks was exposed and world pressure was mounted to eliminate the hatred, various defenders of the curriculum, like Roger Avenstrup (“Where is all that ‘incitement?”‘ Views, Dec. 18) have surfaced, legitimizing the problematic education.
The truth is that the Palestinian schoolbooks, both old and new, incite hatred, violence and anti-Semitism, and defenders are tragically enabling the Palestinian Authority to avoid necessary changes in its education system.
Anti-Semitism is presented openly in Palestinian 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.
In other sections Palestinians 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….” Palestinian children are left with the impression that the Koran sees the Jews as an enemy of God, and consequently their enemy as well.
In the new textbooks, Israel is delegitimized 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… “
When the state of 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.” 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…”
Denying recognition of Israel’s existence is cemented through tens of maps in the schoolbooks in which “Palestine” encompasses all of Israel.
Completing the dangerous messages of the new books is the teaching that Israel must be destroyed as religious obligation: “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…”
The results of this delegitimization is a belief frequently expressed by Palestinian children that justice can be achieved only through Israel’s destruction.
It should be stressed that all these new Palestinian schoolbooks cited 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 Palestinian Authority schoolbooks are tragic, as the Palestinian Authority is using these arguments to justify their curriculum and refusing to improve their books. The Palestinian Authority is planting the seeds of the next war in their youth. The defenders of Palestinian hate education are protecting those seeds of war.
Itamar Marcus, Jerusalem director, Palestinian Media Watch
Itamar Marcus is Member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Roger Avenstrup blithely writes that the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information contends that the overall orientation of the Palestinian curriculum is “peaceful.” Curiously enough, however, when one reads the IPCRI reports, a different message is given.
The IPCRI actually says: “Until now, the Palestinian Authority text books have not provided evidence that the Palestinian Authority has been implementing a policy of peace making.” It goes 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.
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, Raanana, Israel
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. He is member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
More letters to the Editor on ‘s article can be found at: