It is hard to imagine a more flawed analysis of Palestinian Authority
schoolbooks than the recent report of the Council of Religious Institutions of
the Holy Land, led by Sami Adwan of Bethlehem University and Daniel Bar-Tal of
Tel Aviv University.
The report’s inaccuracies start with its methodology
of systematically citing all quotes from Israeli and Palestinian schoolbooks
under the same headings – forcing the appearance of symmetry even when none
Another major flaw is giving as much weight to the fringe,
ultra-Orthodox school system in Israel as it does to mainstream state schools.
This artificially inflates the number of problematic examples on the Israeli
side to support the report’s misleading attempt to demonstrate
But the ultimate failing of the report is that it
intentionally masks the hate and promotion of violence that are central to the
PA educational system. This hatred, together with the hate and terror
glorification expressed by the daily actions and messages of the PA leaders and
through their controlled institutions, is rapidly condemning the next
generations to continued conflict.
What did this report hide from the
world? That the overall message that permeates the PA’s teachings about Israel
throughout the school system is the total rejection of Israel’s most fundamental
right – its right to exist.
This is how Palestinian schoolbooks teach
kids to see Israel: “ ...the Nakba [Catastrophe] that took place in 1948, when
the Jews occupied Palestine and established their state on its land, and
banished the Palestinian nation into exile and to neighboring states, after they
tortured it, massacred, and stole its land, its homes and its holy sites”
(Arabic Language, Analysis, Literature and Criticism, Grade 12, pp.74- 75,
Revised Experimental Edition, 2012).
And like this: “Palestine’s war
ended with a catastrophe that is unprecedented in history, when the Zionist
gangs stole Palestine and expelled its people from their cities, their villages,
destroyed more than 500 villages and cities, and established the socalled State
of Israel” (Arabic Language, Analysis, Literature and Criticism, Grade 12, p.
When Palestinian Media Watch published a report on Palestinian
schoolbooks in 2007, the text cited above ended with the words: “and established
the State of Israel.”
According to the PA Education Ministry’s website
today, Palestinian children are now being taught about the “so-called State of
Israel.” Such changes are not coincidental.
PA education, as a reflection
of PA society in general, may be getting even more hateful.
BAR-TAL list “four primary findings.” The first is, “Dehumanizing and demonizing
characterizations of the other were very rare in both Israeli and Palestinian
This is unequivocally false. The lack of pictures of hook-nosed
Jews in the PA schoolbooks does not mean there is no demonization. Certainly,
denying Israel its right to exist is the ultimate demonization. This is the
foundation upon which the PA builds its entire political ideology and political
Another critical component of the PA’s demonization is a
12th-grade book’s definition of Israel as a racist, foreign, colonial implant:
“The phenomenon of Colonial Imperialism is summarized by the existence of
foreigners residing among the original inhabitants of a country, they [the
foreigners] possess feelings of purity and superiority, and act towards the
original inhabitants with various forms of racial discrimination, and deny their
Colonial Imperialism in modern times is centered in
Palestine, South Africa and Rhodesia [Zimbabwe]” (History of the Arabs and the
World in the 20th Century, Grade 12, 2006 and 2007, p. 6, and Revised
Experimental Edition, 2011, p. 5).
The PA’s defining Israel as “racist,”
“foreign” and a “colonizer” is not merely crude defamation; it is the PA’s
justification for all killings of Israelis by terror since 1948.
another 12th-grade book, the children learn that “international law” grants
people living under precisely these three types of regimes the inalienable right
to fight the regimes: “The General Assembly announced a number of basic
principles related to the judicial status of fighters against colonial rule,
foreign rule and racist regimes: The struggle of the nations under colonial
rule, foreign rule and racist regimes, for their right to self-determination and
independence, is a legitimate struggle, fully complying with the principles of
international law” (Contemporary Problems, Grade 12, 2006 p. 105, and Second
Experimental Edition, 2009, p. 101)
The schoolbook goes on to state that not
only is this “armed struggle” protected by international law, but any attempt to
stop this violence is a violation of international law:
“Any attempt to suppress
the struggle against colonial and foreign rule and racist regimes is considered
as contrary to the UN convention and the declaration of principles of
international law.... The armed struggles that are an expression of the struggle
of the nations under colonial rule, foreign rule and racist regimes are
considered as international armed conflict” (Contemporary Problems, Grade 12,
2006, p. 105, and Second Experimental Edition, 2009, p. 101) THE PA’s promotion
of nationalistic “armed struggle” as a right is exacerbated by its mandating
violence against Israel as mandatory in the name of Islam – “until
Islamic Education for Grade 12 teaches that the conflict
with Israel is a “Ribat for Allah,” which it defines as “one of the actions
related to Jihad for Allah and it means being found in areas where there is a
struggle between Muslims and their enemies” (Islamic Education, Grade 12, 2006
and 2012, p. 86).
And whereas ribat can also mean a non-violent struggle,
the PA schoolbook makes sure that children understand that their obligation
against Israel is military by comparing the Palestinian ribat to other Islamic
wars of the past: “The reason for this preference [for Palestinian ribat] is
that the momentous battles in Islamic history took place on its land, therefore,
its residents are in a constant fight with their enemies, and they are found in
ribat until Resurrection Day: History testifies that: The battle of Al-Yarmuk
decided the fight with the Byzantines, and the battle of Hattin decided the
fight with the Crusaders, and the battle of Ein Jalut decided the fight with the
Mongols” (Ibid, p. 87).
Alarmingly, the book teaches Palestinian children
that their war over Palestine is not going to end with a secular peace treaty,
but is an eternal war for Islam “until Resurrection Day” (Ibid, p.
IT IS significant that neither this legitimization of “armed
struggle” “against colonial and foreign rule and racist regimes” – the PA’s
definition of Israel – nor the mandating of eternal religious violence against
Israel were even mentioned in the Bar-Tal/Adwan report.
Had the authors
included this area of research, they would have been forced to concede that
there is no corresponding defense of terror and promotion of violence in Israeli
The failure to cite these significant and dangerous messages
in the PA’s schoolbooks – messages which have been promoted actively by PA
leaders since 2000 to justify their terror against Israel and killing of
Israelis – is indicative of the report’s flawed methodology and fundamental
These and the many other omissions and misrepresentations
necessitate immediate and public rejection of the findings by the US State
Department, whose funding in 2009 launched the project.
Should the US
adopt these findings, the chance for a peaceful future for children on both
sides of the conflict will decrease dramatically.
At a press conference
in the US Senate building to release PMW’s 2007 report on PA schoolbooks,
then-Senator Hillary Clinton introduced the report: “These textbooks do not give
Palestinian children an education; they give them an indoctrination.
we viewed this [PMW] report in combination with other [PA] media [from other PMW
reports] that these children are exposed to, we see a larger picture that is
disturbing. It is disturbing on a human level, it is disturbing to me as a
mother, it is disturbing to me as a United States Senator, because it basically,
profoundly poisons the minds of these children.”
words still hold true today. PA schoolbooks, along with PA culture and media,
are the recipe for guaranteeing that the conflict, terror and war will continue
into the next generation.
Only if the international community
preconditions its political contacts and support for the PA on the PA’s
compliance with demands to eliminate its culture of hate and violence will peace
While the Palestinian Authority is ultimately
responsible for the hatred and terror it promotes, its defenders, especially
Israelis like Bar-Tal, are ultimately enablers of this hatred. Such misleading
reports could ease the international pressure that has been put on the
Palestinians to replace their hate education with peace education.
rejection of this Bar- Tal/Adwan report by the US is not merely the right thing
to do. People’s lives are depending on it.
The author is the founder and
director of Palestinian Media Watch.