PA hasn't removed hateful content from textbooks, producing worse content

Despite a roadmap created with the EU to ensure new textbooks would be free of hate, the PA reneged on the promise and produced new hateful educational content.

A Palestinian teacher conducts a class for students in an UNRWA-run school that reopened after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions were eased, at al-Fari'ah refugee camp, in the West Bank April 12, 2021.  (photo credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS)
A Palestinian teacher conducts a class for students in an UNRWA-run school that reopened after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions were eased, at al-Fari'ah refugee camp, in the West Bank April 12, 2021.
(photo credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS)

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reneged on an agreement with the EU to revise its academic curriculums in 2021 and has instead promoted new academic materials that feature hateful language and violent imagery, a January 2022 report by The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) discovered.

Despite a roadmap created in tandem with the European Union to ensure new textbooks produced in 2021 would be free of hate – an initiative started following the publication of an EU funded study on Palestinian textbooks that discovered rampant antisemitism and violent references – the PA has not removed the troubling content from its textbooks, which are used to educate public school children in PA-administered regions.

"Faced with a clear call by the EU for them to create new textbooks free of hate and antisemitism, the PA simply reprinted the old ones, then produced thousands of pages of new teaching material with content worse than the textbooks themselves," said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff. "The EU was apparently unaware of any of this."

While neglecting their promise to edit the textbooks, the PA produced thousands of pages of new material – much of it directly propagating violence and overt antisemitism. For instance, some materials teach of the “characteristics” of Jews who are devious and treacherous and Israelis, who are described as “Satan’s aide.”

The new hateful learning materials span across school subjects. Science classes use illustrations of a boy with a slingshot to illustrate the transfer of energy, while Geography classes remove all mention of Israel.

 Palestinian students supporting Hamas take part in a rally during an election campaign for the student council at the Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 26, 2016.  (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS) Palestinian students supporting Hamas take part in a rally during an election campaign for the student council at the Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 26, 2016. (credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

History classes are particularly controversial, as much focus is spent on recording Jewish control of global events via means of money and power. The Jewish “takeover” of Palestine is also a point of emphasis on the educational materials, as the journey of how “Zionist influence” led to the takeover of Palestine by Jews is among the most broadly covered educational topic.

The new content also inspires children to pursue Jihad and remove Jews from Palestine, saying that jihad is the “private obligation for every Muslim” and that “martyrs” who die while killing “infidels” will receive God’s grace and be greatly rewarded.

“It is very clear that the study does reveal the existence of very deeply problematic content that remains of serious concern," said Maciej Popowski, whose directorate commissioned the study and who oversees all aid to the Palestinian education sector, in September amid the agreement to revise PA curriculums. He added that the EU “will not let off until we see change happen and we get assurances that no questionable content in books are in use.”

“At a time when the PA is facing a major budget crisis, they’re doubling down on teaching the hate that donor nations said they could no longer tolerate,” Sheff declared.