The present research covers the expressions of the attitude to the Jewish-Israeli “other”, and to the issue of peace with it, found in the most updated schoolbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority for use in all schools in the West Bank and Gaza, and also in East Jerusalem schools that follow the PA curriculum. The said schools are both governmental and non-governmental, that is, schools operated by the various Christian churches, the Islamic charity associations, private organizations, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). 201 textbooks of various school subjects, taught in grades 1-12, were examined and all forms of text, including language exercises, assignments and footnotes, as well as photographs, illustrations, maps, tables and graphs have formed the source material of this research. 77 of the books checked were published in the years 2016 and 2017, as part of an ongoing project initiated by the PA with a view to renewing its entire curriculum.
The authors of this research strongly believe that a meaningful peace must start with education: the younger generation on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be given a chance to understand the wider background of the conflict in which their societies are entangled and be shown the mutual benefits of its peaceful resolution. That entails a clear-cut recognition of the adversary, alongside a respectful description of its identity, beliefs and interests. The sole purpose of this research is the promotion of peace education on both sides, and the authors hope to add to the present research a similar one on Israeli schoolbooks soon.
The findings of this research show that the PA schoolbooks’ attitude to Jews, Israel and peace is based on three fundamentals: De-legitimization, demonization and indoctrination to violent struggle instead of peace. Based on these fundamentals, a narrative has been built that presents the conflict in a distorted manner historically, and does not leave any hope for ending it in a peaceful coexistence of the two parties involved, with grave implications as far as their future, and their children’s future, is concerned. These findings also reveal the PA’s goals on the long run and the extent of UNRWA’s involvement in pursuing these goals.