Report: Jews are vilified as killers, snakes

Palestinian textbook assessment shows progress toward positive portrayal of Jews reversed by Hamas.

PA textbooks 88 (photo credit: )
PA textbooks 88
(photo credit: )
Authors of Palestinian school textbooks took small steps toward softening their harsh portrayals of Jews and Israel under the rule of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas - but progress was quickly reversed after the Islamic Hamas won a 2006 election, according to a report released on Tuesday. The report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) and the American Jewish Committee looked at 120 textbooks published from 2000 to 2006 for how they perceived Jews and Israel. The report reflects charges by Israelis that Palestinian textbooks are not in keeping with a peace process that started in 1993. Palestinians counter that Jewish Israeli students are not taught about Palestinian suffering. Arnon Groiss, author of the report, "Palestinian Textbooks: From Arafat to Abbas and Hamas" said most of the textbooks from grade one to 10, issued under the late Yasser Arafat's rule, did not acknowledge any historical Jewish presence in ancient Palestine, nor does modern-day Israel appear on maps. Jews are vilified as schemers and killers. But in grade 11 books issued under Abbas, there are two maps showing Israel within the so-called "green line" - the cease-fire line before the 1967 war, when Israel captured east Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The textbooks issued under Abbas' rule also include a discussion of Jewish history in the region, the report said. However, in 2006, the Islamist Hamas came to power and issued a grade 12 textbook that dramatically reversed those steps. Jews are likened to snakes, and fighting for the sake of Palestine is praised effusively. Mixed with anti-Semitic sentiments in the textbooks are genuine Palestinian complaints against Israel, including settlement building in areas Palestinians want for their future state, and the Israeli separation barrier, which often significantly deviates from the "green line." "Palestinian grievances are legitimate - they were harshly hurt by Israel," said Groiss. "But if (Jewish Israelis) are only presented through that prism, that's wrong. We can't see any balance," he said. Jamal Zakkout, spokesman for Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, said Palestinian textbooks should emphasize connection to the land "and a call for tolerance." But Zakkout said the main cause Palestinian ill will toward Israel is not textbooks, but Israel's many checkpoints in the West Bank, the separation barrier and military operations in Palestinian towns.