Palestinian Authority schoolbooks feature three fundamentals:
- Delegitimization of Israel’s existence and the Jews’ very presence in the country, which includes denial of their history and the existence of any Jewish holy places there.
- Demonization of both Israel and Jews, with implications regarding the Jews’ image in the eyes of children who hail from a traditional society.
- Incitement and the absence of a call for peace with Israel. Instead, there is a call for a violent struggle for the liberation of the whole country.
- Israel’s Jewish citizens are considered foreign colonialists: “We will think and discuss: I will compare the tragedy of the Indians, America’s original inhabitants, to the tragedy of the Palestinian people.” (Social Studies, 2020, Grade 8, Part 2, p. 34)
- The country’s Jewish history is denied, including the existence of archaeological items proving that “the conqueror has built for himself an artificial entity that derives its identity and the legitimacy of its existence from tales, legends and fantasies and has tried in various ways and means to create live material evidence for these legends, or archaeological architectural proofs that would determine their truth and authenticity, but in vain.” (Arabic Language, 2020, Grade 10, p. 68)
- Existence of Jewish holy places in the country is denied, including the Western Wall. “The Al-Buraq Wall has been named after Al-Buraq [the divine beast] that carried the Messenger [of God, i.e., Muhammad] during the Nocturnal Journey [from Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, according to Islamic belief] and the Ascension [to Heaven]. The Al-Buraq Wall is part of the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the wall, is Palestinian land and an exclusive right of the Muslims.” (Islamic Education, 2020, Grade 5, Part 1, p. 63)
- Having been considered foreign settlers, Jews in the country are not counted as legitimate inhabitants, and the cities they built, including Tel Aviv, are absent from maps in the textbooks used in PA schools. One PA school map, titled “Map of Palestine,” does not show any Jewish city, except Eilat, which appears under its Arabic name, “Umm al-Rashrash.” (Social Studies, 2020, Grade 6, Part 1, p. 6)
- Jews’ historical and religious ties to Jerusalem are ignored. According to PA textbooks, Jerusalem was built by the Palestinians’ Arab ancestors (i.e., the “Arabized” Canaanites and Jebusites): “Jerusalem is an Arab city built by our Arab ancestors thousands of years ago. Jerusalem is holy only to Muslims and Christians.” (National and Social Upbringing, 2020, Grade 3, Part 1, p. 29)
- A short historical description of the city’s names features a huge gap of 1,000 years between the Jebusites and the Romans, that is, the Jewish historical period. The name “Jerusalem,” with its various forms used in hundreds of languages around the world, is completely absent: “The city of Jerusalem was known as ‘Jebus’ after the Arab Jebusites who built it 5,000 years ago. When the Romans occupied it they named it ‘Aelia.’ Later on it came to be known as ‘Al-Quds’ or ‘Bayt al-Maqdis’, after the Muslims had conquered it at the hands of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab in 637 CE.” (Geography and Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, 2020, Grade 10, Part 1, p. 43)
“Where are the horsemen [who will ride] to Al-Aqsa to liberate it from the grip of infidelity, from the Devil’s aides?”Arabic Language, 2020, Grade 7, Part 1, p. 67
- Jews, sometimes referred to as “Zionists,” are accused of harboring genocidal intentions toward the Palestinians: “The Zionists have established their entity upon terror, extermination and colonialism. We will explain that.” (Arab Language – Academic Path, 2020, Grade 10, Part 2, p. 28)
- Jews are demonized as infidels and as the Devil’s aides, as shown in a verse taken from a poem: “Where are the horsemen [who will ride] to Al-Aqsa to liberate it from the grip of infidelity, from the Devil’s aides?” (Arabic Language, 2020, Grade 7, Part 1, p. 67)
- The Jews are also demonized outside the context of the war, as enemies of Prophet Muhammad and Islam in its early years. They are given negative traits such as treachery and hostility, which makes them eternal enemies of Muslims today: “But the Jews [in Medina] did not respect the treaty [they had made with Muhammad] and resorted to all types of treachery, betrayal and aggression which forced the Muslims to fight them.” (Islamic Education, 2020, Grade 7, Part 1, p. 52)
“Our Palestinian history is replete with many names of martyrs who sacrificed their souls for the homeland, among whom is the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi, who painted with her struggle a picture of challenge and bravery that has made her memory eternal within our hearts and minds. The text before us shows her struggle and journey.”Arabic Language, 2020, Grade 5, Part 2, p. 51
The murder of Jews is featured as an integral part of the liberation struggle, including a four-page lesson exalting the female commander of a terror attack against an Israeli civilian bus on Israel’s Coastal Highway in 1978, in which 38 Jews – men, women and children – were murdered: “Our Palestinian history is replete with many names of martyrs who sacrificed their souls for the homeland, among whom is the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi, who painted with her struggle a picture of challenge and bravery that has made her memory eternal within our hearts and minds. The text before us shows her struggle and journey.” (Arabic Language, 2020, Grade 5, Part 2, p. 51)
In conclusion, PA textbooks reject the existence of the State of Israel, and the very presence of its seven million Jewish citizens in the country, whose history and holy places there are denied. The PA books never advocate a peaceful solution. Instead, they call for a violent struggle for the liberation of all of Palestine, which is not limited to the 1967 lines and in which terror plays a central role. PA education allows no room for a “two-state solution.” In the words of retiring MK Benny Begin, the PA does not want a “two-state solution. The PA wants a two-stage solution.” ■
The writer is director of the Nahum Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research and the author of Genesis of the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA: Road Block to Peace. Research for this article was conducted by Dr. Arnon Groiss.