After the vote of 193 UNESCO member countries, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education published today an interim report containing a preliminary summary of the findings of an extensive study on 117 Palestinian textbooks. The full report will be released within two months and will be accessible to the public.
IMPACT-SE specializes in the study of school textbooks in the Middle East and has monitored the Palestinian curriculum from 1995 onwards. IMPACT-SE has used a methodology based on international standards derived from official UNESCO declarations regarding education, peace, and tolerance. IMPACT-SE researchers ask is the data given accurate and complete? Are illustrations, maps, and graphs up-to-date and accurate? Are the achievements of others recognized? Are equal standards applied? Are political disputes presented objectively and honestly? Is wording likely to create prejudice, misapprehension and conflict? Are the ideals of freedom, dignity and fraternity being promoted? Are the following needs being emphasized: international cooperation, elaboration of common human ideals, advancement of the cause of peace and enforcement of the law? The institute added two criteria of analysis: How are other peoples, religions and communities perceived? Are they recognized, accepted as equal and respected? Or are they presented in a stereotyped and prejudiced way? And, does education foster peace? Does it support a peace process? Is there room for improvement? The institute has pioneered studying the curricula along the latitude and longitude of the Middle East including Egypt, Tunisia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran.
IMPACT-SE newest surveillance, by the head of the research group on Messages of Peace and Tolerance Education in Iran and the PA, Dr. Eldad Pardo, indicated that the PA continues not to point to and not to mention the existence of Israel in maps in the textbooks which are taught in all classes in their schools. Research and monitoring of these textbooks have revealed a consistent trend since 1995; when a Palestinian child learns geography it is impossible to find in the text the word Israel – except for a single report on Israeli plans for territorial compromise (which is considered hostile) – and even then it is impossible for the Palestinian child to find the State of Israel on his map. He learns that Nazareth, which is in the Galilee, and the Negev in the desert belongs to the Palestinian Authority.
IMPACT-SE has also discovered serious and substantial efforts to systematically develop constructive nationalism that will lead to complying with teachers, parents, and adults along with helping others. There is no direct call to acts of violence or killing. Some of the books encourage liberal and democratic values such as open debate and equality for women while other books justify discrimination against women under Islamic law and place women in traditional roles. There is also environmental preservation education even though in most cases the Palestinian textbooks cast blame on the Israeli side and do not educate for cooperation and conflict resolution – such as with the question of water – through peaceful means. Students learn that the issue of water may cause future wars and yet the Palestinian students do not receive the tools to prevent the realization of this difficult forecast. In some books there is an attempt to moderate the militant aspect of Islam. The religion is shown as peaceful. The concept of dhimmi, which consists of the subordination of Christians and Jews to Muslims and them being under the protection of Muslim rule, was presented in a book that teaches that peace is dependent on Islam, without mentioning the problem with this illusion.
The material that is designated for different age groups covers material such as Jihad, Ribat (guerilla warfare) and the glorification of death and blood. The existing books are prejudiced, particularly with regard to Christians and Jews, and these are not just the books from the Ministry of Religious Endowments. The Holocaust is not taught at all, and the Palestinian Authority also does not teach about the fate of Jewish communities in Arab countries and the loss of Jewish and Israeli territories since the beginning of the conflict. The description of the Nakba is a description that puts the entire blame on the Zionist side, although there is one reference to the Arab rejection to the partition plan. The students are taught that the Palestinian refugees will return to their homes.
The central problems in the textbooks are the gap between reality and the material, and creation a heroic backdrop of violence and suicide for young students. Ideology is taught that can lead to outbreaks of violence. There is an absence of expression on the other culture’s right to exist and have legitimate claim as a national movement – but that Jews national movement has no historical or cultural roots in the country or the region. The texts display Israel as an absolute evil, a European colonial invader. Such educating about eternal war and a complete lack of references to cooperation are not consistent with the principals and recommendations of UNESCO.
Here are some examples of monitoring and research:
The first principle is the Palestinian Authority’s books denying the legitimacy of the “other” and denying the rights of the historic “other”. The Palestinians present themselves as the descendants of the Canaanites, and for this they invented a new concept that was unknown to the region which is the “Arab Canaanites”.
“Palestine is the land of the forefathers.
The Canaanites Arabs were the first to dwell in Palestine.”
National Education, Grade 2, Part 1, page 4
The Palestinian Authority teaches its children maps that have the Palestinian flag flying over territory that belonged to Israel prior to 1967. Children under the Palestinian Authority are learning that the Negev, Galilee, and Nazareth belong to the PA.
The next section shows an exercise for children that implys that Jews are snakes.
“By your life! How come that snakes invade us
And we [still] observe a protection covenant [dhimmah], which respects commitments”
Arabic Language – Linguistic Sciences, Grade 12,2006 p. 61
Shelley Sandor-Elkayam unveiled this week at a conference in Frankfurt to European researchers, that textbooks of the PA, with the assistance of Islamic centers and associations, work “to retrieve the heritage of Arab Palestinians [and conservation] of the Arab-Islamic character of [...] Jerusalem.” They attribute to the Israelis “attempts to change the names of holy places of Islam and Christianity,” such as the Western Wall. The PA is not educating its children about the complexity of the reality of the situation, with actual historical facts and does not prepare them for the complex discourse required to bring a culture of peace to any negotiations. Instead they educate children that the reality they are facing is a result of “crimes of occupation” and crimes of “Zionist occupation”.
Education for violence, holy war, and operations of terror are seen across a range of ages in PA books, which distribute violent messages in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. In the name of combating “occupation”, which includes the 1948 borders, we see instances of promoting holy war and death.
“A morning of jasmine, sweet briar and dew
A morning of glory and red liberty, watered by the martyrs’ blood [ [...] ]
Your morning, my homeland, with your sun, we will prevail the darkness”
Reading and Texts, Grade 9, Part 1, p. 21
“The warrior going into battle with him two good endings: either victory or martyrdom.”
“Jihad comes in first place after God’s work.”
Our Beautiful Language, Fifth Grade, Part A, 2006, p. 14
“A brave warrior prefers death over life of humiliation and subordination.”
Our Beautiful Language, Grade 5, Part 1, p. 70
“Palestine is the land [...] of jihad [...]“
Arabic Language- Reading, Literature and Critique, Grade 12 p. 108
IMPACT-SE is the only institute in the world specializing in the study of textbooks in the Middle East. IMPACT-SE is an interdisciplinary institute, an independent, apolitical, and not-for-profit which has developed a methodology based on international standards. The institute is lead by the CEO and Director of Research who is also an expert educational consultant. The institute has an international council which has renowned scientists from around the world. The institute employs twenty researchers working in research groups, with experts of language, region, and religion. Each year the institute publishes reports on the state of tolerance in education and curricula of sectors and countries.