Demand that Donor Nations ask for Changes in Palestinian Authority books Used by UNRWA and the PA
The following is a list of changes that UNRWA must introduce into the Palestinian Authority textbooks it uses in its schools in order to make them compatible with the UN Agency’s commitment to peace in the Middle East. It is based on a 15 years of research done by Dr. Arnon Groiss*, who reviewed hundreds of Middle Eastern schoolbooks, including those issued by the Palestinian Authority used in UNRWA schools.
De-legitimization of the State of Israel
- Every map that shows today’s political boundaries in the region should mark Israel’s pre-1967 territory by the name “Israel”. Such a territory shall not be left un-named and certainly is not to be named “Palestine” as that constitutes a distortion of the present situation on the ground.
- Israel should be mentioned as an ordinary sovereign state in every text mentioning the region’s states currently.
- Every reference to a region, settlement or site within Israel’s pre-1967 lines must not describe such a region, settlement or site as exclusively Palestinian.
- Every discussion in the books of the holy places in the country should refer to the Jewish holy places alongside the Muslim and Christian ones. Any reference to a place which happens to be sacred to Jews (such as the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem) should state that fact.
- Any discussion of subjects related to population and demography issues in the country should include the 6 million Jews living there. Any map that shows cities in the country should include the important Jewish cities as well (such as Tel Aviv, Eilat, Ashdod, etc.).
- The books should not use circumlocutions such as “the lands of 48”, “the Interior” or “the Green Line” instead of the phrase “Israeli territory”.
- Historical documents should not be falsified (the British Mandate stamp, for example).
Demonization of Israel
- Schoolbooks in use in UNRWA schools should not include pieces with virulent demonization of Israel, or de-humanization, or any description that goes beyond the presentation of Israel and/or the Jews as an ordinary adversary with its own rights, interests and positions.
- It is much desired to add to the books the still non-existent pieces that deal with Israel and the Jews objectively (for example, pieces that talk about the Israeli government structure, economy, science and technology, the Hebrew culture, Jewish history, etc.) that would balance the enormous anti-Israeli critical material in the books.
- It is crucially important to stress in the books that, in spite of the war, the Jewish/Israeli individual is also a human being, apart from being an adversary, and should be treated accordingly.
UNRWA Books should emphasize peace and not endorse the “armed struggle”
- The Islamic ideas of Jihad and martyrdom should be mentioned in historical context only and not as ideals to strive for.
- Any discussion of what is termed “Nakbah” should stress the fact that the Nakbah was a direct result of a war initiated by the Arab League, and not as Jewish aggression, contrary to what is said today in the books.
- Within this context, Palestinian Arab children should be taught to recognize their own party’s shared responsibility for past events and not restrict that to the adversary alone. Example: the so-called “Separation Wall” which was built for defending the Israeli population against bombing attacks by Palestinians.
- The so-called “Right of Return” should be presented as a demand representing the PLO position only, regarding “the Refugee Problem” while the solution itself will be attained in the framework of the negotiations between the two parties and on the basis of mutual agreement only.
*About Dr. Arnon Groiss
Dr. Arnon Groiss is an Arabic-language journalist who worked for the Voice of Israel Arabic Radio for 42 years (between 1973 and 2015). He is also an expert on Middle Eastern affairs having earned his Ph.D. degree from Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies, as well as an MPA degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Groiss taught for several years at the Hebrew University in the 1990s and 2000s. Between the years 2000-2010 Dr. Groiss served as chief researcher and, later, as Director of Research at the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE, formerly known as the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace – CMIP), a non-political NGO committed to studying the attitude to the “other” and to peace in the Israeli and in other Middle Eastern curricula. During his work there, and in later years, Dr. Groiss studied hundreds of textbooks of various school subjects and authored over ten reports on Palestinian, Egyptian, Syrian, Saudi Arabian, Iranian and Tunisian schoolbooks. The reports are available on the Institute’s Web site http://www.impact-se.org. A summary of his research of this subject is to be found in “De-legitimization of Israel in Palestinian Authority Schoolbooks”, published in Israeli Affairs, Vol. 18 (2012), Issue 3, pp. 455-484, where he compares the PA schoolbooks with other Arab and Middle Eastern ones, including their Israeli counterparts. Dr. Groiss has presented his findings since 2000 to both policy makers and people of the press on numerous occasions in various places, including the US Congress, the European Parliament, the UK House of Commons, the Israeli Knesset, the Canadian Parliament, the French Assemblée nationale and elsewhere. On the basis of his experience in this field, Dr. Groiss was appointed as a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) of the Palestinian-Israeli Schoolbook Research Project commissioned by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL). The project was funded by the US State Department and ended in February 2013. Dr. Groiss’ evaluation paper of this research project is to be found at http://israelbehindthenews.com/library/pdfs/EVALUATIO1-1.pdf