EU holds PA funds after reform of antisemitic textbooks fails

The authority uses textbooks that demonstrate "antisemitic narratives and glorification of violence" despite a promise to reform.

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)

Millions of euros from the European Union that are meant to aid the Palestinian Authority have been delayed in EU offices as officials discuss whether to condition parts of the foreign assistance on reforms to Palestinian textbooks.

A cross-party group of EU legislators called for reduction of funds to the PA over the failed textbook reform in a letter to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen demanding that funding be conditional upon the reform. The textbooks in question have demonstrated "antisemitic narratives and glorification of violence," according to the EU-commissioned Georg Eckert Institute. 

Despite promises made to donor nations to revise the textbooks, the PA Ministry of Education reprinted last year's textbooks with the same issues raised by the EU.

Moreover, the authority wrote thousands of pages of new material, roughly equivalent in size to all the textbooks in the curriculum. The new material contains content that is worse than current or previous Palestinian textbooks, with a greater number of lessons that directly incite violence and propagate overt antisemitism. 

The new material brought to the European Parliament demonstrates, for example, how Israelis are "Satan's aide," calls for students to die as martyrs and liberate Al-Aqsa mosque, and teaches students to kill infidels in exchange for great rewards.

the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) has briefed Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who signed the letter to the EC president.

Palestinian children learn Islamic lessons on summer vacation as COVID-19 restrictions ease in Gaza. (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)Palestinian children learn Islamic lessons on summer vacation as COVID-19 restrictions ease in Gaza. (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)

"Years of negotiation with the PA and repeated commissions [pledging] "zero tolerance" for antisemitism have unfortunately failed to bring about the desired change," the letter said. "Palestinian children continue to be abused as they are being taught to hate. Asking the PA to revise these books is an imposition but self-evident and non-negotiable duty."

“These parliament members are angry and frustrated," Said IMPACT-SE CEO Marcus Sheff. "After passing legislation condemning the Palestinian textbooks and after the European Union extracted a commitment that it would remove the hate, the Palestinian Authority clearly set out to deceive Brussels by simply reprinting the old books for the new year.

"The EU was entirely unaware of this and of the ten thousand pages of new, hateful teaching material the PA produced on their dime. The legislators have good reason to be outraged.”

The European Union is the largest single donor to the PA, which constitutes a significant part of the West Bank economy. The EU funds salary of many Palestinian professionals who write those education textbooks, and in return, has asked for assurance that those books will uphold most basic EU and UNESCO standards for education.