A veiled Palestinian teacher gestures as children attend a lesson at a United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA)-run school in Gaza.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As part of their push to receive recognition as a full-fledged state in international forums, the Palestinians on Wednesday gained membership in Interpol.
The move raises concerns in Jerusalem that the Palestinian Authority will now try to use its influence within Interpol against Israel. It might request that the international police body issue arrest warrants against Israeli officials and IDF officers traveling abroad.
There is some basis for these concerns. After Palestinians gained entry to UNESCO, they worked to pass resolutions against Israel. The Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron was declared a Palestinian heritage site and the Jewish roots of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem were ignored.
Palestinian membership in Interpol may cause Israel headaches. And the larger strategy of receiving international recognition for Palestinian statehood is a convenient way of shifting attention away from the real issues that must be dealt with before Palestinians are ready for statehood, such as ending the split leadership between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the resulting failure of Palestinians to cooperate in elementary tasks, such as holding regular elections.
Far more worrying for the future of peace and coexistence than the Palestinian bid for international recognition, however, is the ongoing incitement and indoctrination of Palestinians, which starts at the earliest of ages.
A study of Palestinian textbooks used in Gaza schools that was released by the Center for Near East Policy Research, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Middle East Forum on the same day the PA gained membership in Interpol reveals how Palestinian schools teach students murderous hatred of Jews and rejection of Jewish self-determination in Israel.
In the schoolbooks, which are based on curricula provided by the PA, Jews are depicted as having no rights whatsoever in the region, only greedy ambitions; the Jews have no holy places in “Palestine” (the word Israel does not appear in the textbooks); the Western Wall, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are presented as Muslim sites with no Jewish connection but claimed by Jews; a Molotov-cocktail attack on an Israeli civilian bus is described as a “barbecue party”; a Palestinian female terrorist is glorified for the killing of more than 30 civilians in an attack on another Israeli bus; Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv often do not appear on maps in the textbooks.
The research, authored by Arab textbooks expert Dr. Aaron Groiss, examined some 150 textbooks of various school subjects, taught in grades one through 12. Seventy- five of the books checked were published in the years 2016 and 2017, as part of a project initiated by the PA, which provides its curriculum to UNRWA schools.
In one textbook published in 2016, a future Palestinian liberation is envisioned and the fate of the six million Jews living in “Palestine” is described as “expulsion from the land, the extermination of its defeated and scattered remnants.”
While it is true that UNRWA, a UN institution that is supposed to promote peace and coexistence, is betraying its mandate by not intervening to stop the incitement of young schoolchildren, the real culprit is the PA. It is unclear what is motivating Palestinians leaders – President Mahmoud Abbas first and foremost – to sabotage chances for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Is Palestinian identity built exclusively on the rejection and deconstruction of Jewish identity? Can there be no positive Palestinian national vision that is devoid of incessant and rabid attacks on Jews, Zionism and Israel? The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians need not be a zero-sum game. A compromise is conceivable, but not as long as Palestinian children are taught from the earliest age that the murder of Jewish civilians is laudable, that the Jewish people has no roots in the Land of Israel and that the State of Israel will soon cease to exist.
The Palestinian campaign for international recognition, while understandable within the context of internal Palestinian politics, will do little to advance the Palestinian cause for statehood. Incitement in schools, however, is more insidious because it undermines any hope of a peaceful and negotiated resolution to the conflict.