Two years ago, a senior U.S. State Department official called me a liar to my face. He informed me that all the work done by the Center for Near East Policy Research on the Palestinian Authority textbooks used by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees was one great fabrication, that the U.S. government had checked the textbooks used by UNRWA, and that they met the highest standards of peace education.
Six months later, the White House issued a statement in a similar vein to a colleague in Washington: “While there is still work to be done, the Palestinian government has made significant progress in reducing inflammatory rhetoric and revising official textbooks. Over the past few years, the PA has helped improve the Palestinian curriculum, including textbooks that discuss human rights and the Holocaust, which has contributed to a better education for young Palestinians.”
To respond to this, I asked my staff to purchase and translate all PA textbooks used by UNRWA so that we could give the results to the U.S. Congress and the Knesset.
One of the ironies is that the United States Agency for International Development in Ramallah wrote to us, saying that the U.S. never examines the PA textbooks used by UNRWA, despite the fact that the U.S. donates $400 million each year to UNRWA — one-third of the agency’s budget.
Here are some quotes from the new schoolbooks that will be used in UNRWA schools this year:
1. The Zionist occupation started in 1856 (Social Studies, Grade 9). ”Since the Zionist movement established in 1856 its first settlement, known as ’Montefioriyyah’ [Mishkenot Shaananim, Jerusalem’s first Jewish neighborhood built outside the Old City walls], southwest of the Jerusalem city wall, the series of division [actions] in Palestine has not stopped. It [i.e., the Zionist movement] established settlements that included training centers and arms depots. After the catastrophe [“Nakba” in Arabic] of 1948, it ruled over more than 78% of Palestine’s territory. More than 850,000 Palestinians were made to emigrate and they and their families lived in refugee camps in Palestine and in the diaspora. Nothing of it [Palestine] was left except the Gaza Strip and the West Bank that were occupied [later] in 1967.”
2. Zionists adopted Canaanite place names, thereby “stealing” Palestinian history (Social Studies, Grade 6). ”The Zionist occupation named its own settlements by these Canaanite names, [thus] having stolen and forged Palestinian national heritage and history.”
3. Zionism’s changes in Jerusalem (Social Studies, Grade 7). ”The Zionist occupation pursued a policy of erasing Palestine’s Arab and Islamic features in general, and especially in Jerusalem. Since the first day of Jerusalem’s occupation, the Zionists started to change the identity of this Arab-Muslim city and make it [a city] of a Zionist nature. They confiscated Palestinian land and built settlements there, harassed the Palestinian inhabitants in order to force them to leave Jerusalem, so that the settlers would come in their stead, demolished houses and forced the inhabitants to emigrate, took their identity cards and separated Jerusalem from its Arab environment. They annexed the Islamic features to the Zionist heritage list, as they transformed Al-Buraq Wall into the Wailing Wall; they destroyed the Mughrabi neighborhood and changed its Arab-Muslim nature; they removed some of the Jerusalem city wall and put instead other ones with Zionist decorations and forms; they opened Jewish synagogues in Jerusalem’s Old City, and they are striving painstakingly these days to gain control over the Noble Shrine [Haram al-Sharif, the Arabic name for the Temple Mount] by letting the Zionist settlers enter it daily in preparation for its complete takeover and cut any Muslim connection to this place that is sacred to Muslims.”
4. The Hebrew letter endangers Arab Jerusalem (Arab Language, Grade 10). ”This article draws attention to the dangers surrounding Jerusalem, such as the foreign centers that overlook its basins and suffocate its breath, the foreign wall that encircles its scope, the checkpoints that limit its movement and the Hebrew letter that threatens the nature of its culture. But Jerusalem is a genuine and sacred land that spits out the scum of foreigners and pretenders.”
5. The Dimona reactor causes cancer in southern Hebron (Scientific Education, Grade 11). ”For research: Studies indicate an increase of cancer cases in southern Hebron compared to other Palestinian areas. I will investigate the connection of that to its proximity to the Dimona reactor in the Negev Desert.”
6. The occupation releases boars to cause damage to the Palestinians’ crops (Social Studies, Grade 9). ”The occupation has transformed vast areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into dumps of poisonous refuse and acted to pollute the Palestinian environment with radioactive and chemical materials, which has caused an increase in the rates of affliction with severe diseases, chiefly cancer. It [also] dumped their markets with spoiled goods beyond their expiration dates in the Zionist markets such as cars and foodstuffs, and released herds of boars that caused damage to the inhabitants and their crops.”
7. The Zionist gangs (Arabic Language, Grade 9). ”And the land — it changed its features out of anger, as if it could not bear the steps of those ones who broke into it without asking permission — Zionist gangs that came from a foreign world loaded with hostility and hatred toward Arabs and Palestinians.”
8. “Barbecue party” with Molotov cocktails (Arabic Language, Grade 9). ”The neighbor: ‘The curfew does not include us in Al-Shurfah [neighborhood]. It is imposed on Al-Natarish [neighborhood]. It seems that there is a barbecue party with Molotov cocktails in one of the buses to the colony [Jewish settlement] of Psagot on Jabal al-Tawil mountain.'”
9. A map titled “the Arab Homeland — Political” (Social Studies, Grade 9) shows the entire country — Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip — in one color with the name “Palestine” next to it.
10. Zionism is guilty of “colonialist imperialism” and strives to exterminate the Palestinians (History Studies, Grade 11). “Let us think and examine: Land is the pivot of colonialist imperialism. It strives as much as it can to take hold of it by all means, even by the extermination of the inhabitants and their annihilation.”
11. The poem below was taken from a PA schoolbook issued in 2016 that talks of the extermination of the foreigners’ remnants in Palestine following its liberation (Our Beautiful Language, Grade 3). The books issued in 2016 intensify the violent struggle for liberation of Palestine, which includes — for the first time in the PA curriculum — reference to the fate of 6 million Jews living in the country following its supposed liberation: the removal of the “usurper” (that is, Israel) and the extermination of the defeated remnants of the foreigners (Israeli Jews):
”Let us sing and learn by heart: the land of the noble ones
I swear, I shall sacrifice my blood
In order to water the land of the noble ones
And I shall remove the usurper from my country
And shall exterminate the scattered remnants of the strangers
O country of Al-Aqsa and the holy place
O cradle of pride and nobleness
Patience, patience, because victory is ours
And dawn will peep out of darkness.”
With even the newest textbooks in UNRWA schools promoting so much anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hostility, how is it that Palestinian education is not on the current agenda for Middle East negotiations?