6 east Jerusalem schools placed on conditional licenses due to textbook incitement

Textbooks at the schools glorified Palestinian prisoners and made claims of killings, deportations and massacres by the IDF.

 Palestinian schoolchildren stand in a line at a school run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) in the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem October 10, 2018 (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
Palestinian schoolchildren stand in a line at a school run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) in the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem October 10, 2018
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

Education Minister Shasha Biton revoked the permanent operating licenses of six schools in east Jerusalem and replaced them with conditional temporary licenses on Thursday after it was discovered that textbooks at the schools included material deemed as incitement against the State of Israel and against the IDF.

The affected schools are Ibrahimieh College, the Al-Eman elementary schools for boys and girls and the Al-Eman secondary schools for boys and girls.

The textbooks at the school glorified Palestinian prisoners and their armed struggle against the State of Israel,  and contains libels about treatment being withheld from patients and deliberate harm to medical staff, accusations against Israel for the water crisis in the Palestinian Authority and claims concerning killings, deportations and massacres by the IDF.

"Incitement against the State of Israel and IDF soldiers in children's school textbooks is an intolerable phenomenon that will be dealt with severely," said Biton. "Whoever in his educational institutions is found to be inciting and spreading hate speech against the State of Israel and its symbols - his license will be revoked. Incitement and hatred - not in our school."

The principals of the schools were summoned to a hearing at the end of which it was decided to deny them their permanent operating licenses and instead give them conditional licenses which will be in effect for one year during which they will need to remove the material deemed inciting. They will only be able to receive the permanent license again once the material is removed.

 Palestinian schoolgirls read books in a library at school run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) in Silwan in East Jerusalem October 10, 2018 (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS) Palestinian schoolgirls read books in a library at school run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) in Silwan in East Jerusalem October 10, 2018 (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

Inciting material in east Jerusalem textbooks

In the "Citizenship and Social Studies" textbook for third grade, a story described third graders visiting their friend Nidal after his father was arrested the night before. The story describes Nidal telling his friends how "we were surprised last night after the Zionist occupation soldiers invaded our apartment and arrested my father, which made me tired and worried." His mother proceeds to tell him that Palestinian prisoners "fight for our Palestinian people and they oppose the Zionist occupation. They became prisoners in their prisons and we wish them freedom soon with God's help like we wish for the end of the occupation."

In the same textbook, another section describes how "medical teams and ambulances in Palestine are facing difficulties and dangers because of the Zionist occupation," with the book stating that ambulances are prevented from reaching "the wounded who resisted the occupation."

"Also some of the medics are exposed to attacks, injuries and even killed. These actions constitute a violation of human rights," added the textbook.

Another textbook, "Sciences and Life" for fifth graders claims that Palestinian water reservoirs suffer from water crises every year due to "the shadow of the occupation's control over most of the water sources in Palestine."

A "Social Studies" textbook for ninth graders at the schools refers to the 1948 War of Independence as "the greatest racist disaster that hit the Palestinian people," stating that "armed Zionist gangs occupied 77% of Palestine and carried out a massacre against the Palestinians, destroyed 531 Palestinian villages and caused the migration of a million Palestinians to places of refugees in what was left of Palestine."

The book added that "the occupation continues its racist measures throughout Palestine: killing, deportation, arrests, military massacres, electronic gates, destruction of houses, construction of Zionist settlements and a fence."

"In east Jerusalem almost 90% of the children are learning from the same school books used in Gaza."

Fleur Hassan Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem

"In east Jerusalem almost 90% of the children are learning from the same school books used in Gaza," said Fleur Hassan Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem. "For years I have been lobbying the government of Israel and foreign countries to make educational funding in east Jerusalem conditional on the reform of the school books to remove hatred and incitement. I am happy that today the Israeli government had taken its first step to solve a problem that literally causes injury and loss of life."

Israeli MK Itamar Ben-Gvir shared a video on his Twitter account on Tuesday that appeared to show a school in east Jerusalem performing in a play – the plot of which being Ben-Gvir’s capture and execution by armed Palestinians.