Palestinian schoolchildren (R370).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
No group on earth has been subjected to more discrimination and hate than the
Jews, and the US will not fund curriculum in the Palestinian Authority that does
not teach tolerance and mutual respect, US Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer
(D-Maryland) said on Wednesday.
Hoyer, leading a massive delegation of 36
Democratic US congressman, said this issue was the first one he broached during
a meeting Wednesday in Ramallah with PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat.
talked about the necessity to live together with mutual respect,” Hoyer said at
a Jerusalem press conference. “I asked whether the [Palestinian] school
curriculum would comport with that objective. He indicated that they had not
done so perfectly, but he believes they are working on that and trying to get to
Hoyer, on his 13th visit to Israel, said that when he
returns to Washington next week he intended to “pursue” the issue “with the
State Department and others.
Clearly the US does not want to fund efforts
that do not fairly portray other peoples.”
The week-long trip was
sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization
affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Next week a
Republican delegation of 26 congressman is to arrive.
Hoyer said in the
Middle East there has been “too much teaching of violence, too much perpetration
of violence, too much teaching of prejudice. No group on earth, in so many
venues throughout the earth, have been the objective of so much discrimination
and hate as the Jewish population.”
He said the issue of teaching toward
tolerance was something that needed to be worked on throughout the world,
including in America.
“Rather than us pointing fingers,” he said, “we in
the US are still working on this issue. We have a large African-American
population, a large Hispanic population.
We are a nation of immigrants,
almost every immigrant group that has come to the US of any size has found
Hoyer was flanked during the press conference by the 36
congressman, including 31 freshman House members, half of whom have never been
to Israel before.
The delegation met Tuesday for nearly two hours with
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and met with President Shimon Peres.
planned meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not
materialize on Wednesday, because Abbas is currently in Saudi Arabia
. So the
group met Erekat instead.
Hoyer did not reply directly when asked if he
heard anything from either Netanyahu or Erekat to give him a sense that the
current stab at peace talks might work where previous attempts failed, saying
instead that both sides have “already made – from their perspectives – difficult
decisions to get back to the table.”
He said both sides ascribed their
decisions to return to the negotiations to the “indefatigable work” of US
Secretary of State John Kerry.
“We’re hopeful,” he said. “It is never too
late to do the right thing, never too late to reach for peace, and never an
option to give up and say we can’t. Those with whom we spoke were hopeful as