Palestinian, Saudi Arabian textbooks demonize Jews, Israel – studies

Two reports highlight how extremism and anti-Jewish hatred is taught to youth in the Middle East; Saudis show improvement since last report.

Palestinian boy Zain Idrees attends a lesson inside a classroom in a school, in Hebron, in the West Bank April 25, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)
Palestinian boy Zain Idrees attends a lesson inside a classroom in a school, in Hebron, in the West Bank April 25, 2019
Palestinian textbooks delegitimize the State of Israel, demonize Israel and the Jews, and call for a violent struggle for the liberation of Palestine, according to the latest report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israeli Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center.
The study, written by Arnon Groiss and initiated by the Center for Near East Policy Research, was published this week. It is the last in a series of studies done in the framework of a project that began in 2015 to examine the attitude of the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum to the Jewish-Israeli “other” within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this final report, the study checks this attitude as reflected in teachers’ guides issued by the PA’s Ministry of Education.
“While students’ schoolbooks reveal the components of the worldview and values a society would wish to instill in the younger generation, teachers’ guides usually deal with the manner of inculcating this worldview in the students’ minds,” Groiss wrote in an executive summary, noting that this study better helps those involved “trace what could be described as the process of indoctrination among the students.”
However, the findings align with previous reports.
The guides delegitimize Israel’s existence and portray the Land of Israel as the Palestinians’ exclusive right. In text and on maps, “Palestine” or “Occupation” replaces Israel.
“The PA’s maps serve the vision of one Palestine from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan, where Israel does not exist, in sharp contrast to the solution appearing in the Palestinian Authority’s statements regarding the establishment of an independent state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the report said.
Jews and Israel are collectively demonized as “colonialist settlers,” aggressive,” “barbaric,” “full of hate” and “harboring genocidal intentions.” Israel is described as the source of all evil and as the party solely responsible for the conflict. In contrast, the Palestinians are depicted as victims.
The report provides concrete examples of this demonization, such as in a grade 11 mathematics textbook: “A settler shoots at [Palestinian] cars passing on one of the roads. If the probability of his hitting a car in one shot is 0.7 and the settler shot at 10 cars, what would you expect to be the number of cars that were hit? (The answer in the corresponding teacher’s guide is: 7)”
Moreover, the report finds that the textbooks continue to call for violence rather than peace and coexistence. In many cases, this violence is put in a religious context, such as needing to liberate al-Aqsa Mosque or celebrating jihad and martyrdom. In one book, female terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi – who carried out the March 1978 Coastal Road Massacre in which 37 Israelis were killed, including 12 children – is “elevated to a position of a national heroine, equal in status to Yasser Arafat and to Aishah, Prophet Muhammad’s revered wife,” the report described.
“The present study of the Palestinian schoolbooks, as well as its predecessors, reveals a gloomy picture,” wrote Groiss. “Palestinian educators impose on their students a future of hatred, with no hope, and an eternal struggle that undoubtedly will bring pain and suffering for years to come.”
A SIMILAR study of Saudi Arabia’s national school curriculum covering 2016–19 textbooks was released on Tuesday by IMPACT-se.
While the report found that, similar to Palestinian textbooks, extremism and anti-Jewish hatred persists, it also noted that certain changes hint at increasing moderation in Saudi Arabian society.
“Jews are blamed as assassins, described as monkeys and will be fought and killed in the day of resurrection,” explained IMPACT-se in the report’s introduction. “Jews and Israelis are eternally treacherous, murdering prophets, committing irreparable evil and determined to harm Muslim holy places.”
Israel is seen as conspiring and striving to control the Middle East.
However, according to the same report, there is “reduced attention on early Islam-Jewish conflicts” and “some of the theological arguments against Christianity have been softened or removed.”
The biggest shift as it pertains to Jews and Israel, according to IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff, is that the curriculum now sharply criticizes and takes responsibility for terrorism committed by Muslims. Even though martyrdom is labeled a “godly gift,” the books explain that only the king has sole authority to declare jihad war.
The Saudi curriculum also alludes to the Holocaust: “Some minorities are exposed to deportation and extermination from the countries such as the expulsion of the Jews from Europe and the Indians from Uganda.”
Some passages and concepts removed from the curriculum between the last study and today include: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a secret Jewish plan to take over the world; Jews believe they are connected to God and all other religions are connected to Satan; antisemitism and anti-Zionism; and utilizing antisemitic memes, among others.
“There is a way to go for Saudi textbooks to meet international standards of peace and tolerance,” Sheff said. “Improvements have appeared in recent years, and while they are welcomed, there remains too large an amount of unacceptable and intolerant material, especially in religious textbooks for higher grades.”
He said that the positive changes are largely related to the Vision 2030 plan of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, which according to the Saudi Arabian government’s website, is focused on building a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.
The prince “is clearly educating a young generation, including girls, [regarding] a new Saudi national identity, entrepreneurship and economic cooperation with the West,” Sheff said.