A recent study examining nearly 400 textbooks and more than 100 teachers’ guides issued between 2013 and 2020 by the Palestinian Education Ministry found them to be rife with anti-Israel indoctrination.
According to Dr. Arnon Groiss of the the Center for Near East Policy Research, the author of the study, which was published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, there are three aspects to this hate education:
1.) Delegitimization of the State of Israel and the very presence of Jews in the Land of Israel, including the denial of the existence of Jewish holy places.
2.) Demonization of Israel and the Jews.
3.) Encouragement of “violent struggle” for the “liberation” of the Land of Israel, with no mention of peace and coexistence.
“In none of the P.A.’s schoolbooks has any call for the resolution of the conflict peacefully, or any mentioning of co-existence with Israel been found,” writes Groiss. “The ‘Zionist enemy,’ according to the description appearing in the schoolbooks, is wholly evil and constitutes an existential threat to the Palestinians who are depicted as the ultimate victim, with no shared responsibility for the conflict,” he adds.
According to an earlier report on the topic, also by Groiss, “Jews are demonized as well in the religious context, outside the context of the conflict. They are depicted as a corrupted nation from its very beginning and as enemies of Islam since its early days.”
Citing the Koran and other Islamic scriptures, says Groiss, Palestinian textbooks teach that “the corruption of the Children of Israel on earth was and will be the reason of their destruction”; and that, though allied to them, the Islamic prophet Muhammad “was aware of the Jews’ deceitfulness and conspiracies.”
Moreover, “Islamic traditional ideals of Jihad and martyrdom are exalted and given a special role in the liberation struggle. In fact, there is one language exercise that specifically encourages martyrdom.”
While indoctrinating schoolchildren to hate Jews may seem specific to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—that is, may appear to be a product of politics and grievances—it is, in fact, part of a broader trend: school textbooks in several other Muslim nations also teach hate for the “other”—even those who, far from being in a position to “oppress” Muslims are actually being oppressed by them.
For instance, in 2018, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a statement saying that it “is disappointed to find inflammatory content in Saudi textbooks that was previously thought to have been removed.” The commission “uncovered content promoting violence and hatred toward religious minorities and others,” often in connection to the Islamic doctrine of “loyalty and enmity,” which, based on the Koran (e.g., Sura 60:4), requires Muslims to love what Allah loves and hate what Allah hates, which includes “infidels,” i.e., non-Muslims.
A separate report published by Human Rights Watch in 2017 touched on the indoctrination process: “As early as first grade, students in Saudi schools are being taught hatred towards all those perceived to be of a different faith or school of thought. … The lessons in hate are reinforced with each following year.”
Further troubling is that such hate-filled texts are not limited to Saudi schools but continue to be widely disseminated to madrasas throughout the world, including in the United States.
Schools in Pakistan also continue to “teach their children to hate Christians and other religious minorities,” a 2017 report found: “Instead of minimizing hate materials and discouraging religious extremism [as the government had vowed to do after a particularly lethal Islamic terror attack on a school killed 132 students in 2014], the opposite seems to be occurring with a growing trend toward a more biased curriculum and more religious extremism being taught in Pakistan’s public schools.”
Speaking in 2019, a Pakistani Christian leader said religious “minorities are considered infidels, and they are depicted negatively in textbooks, which promote prejudices against minorities.”
Because of this, he said, “Many minorities give their children Islamic names so they will not be singled out as Christians and become potential targets for discrimination in primary or secondary schools or at the college level. … In many cases, minority students do suffer abuse in public schools.”
School textbooks in Turkey also demonize non-Muslims. Speaking of her experiences, a former Muslim woman who converted to Christianity explained how “her opinion of Christians was very low because of the things she and others were taught to believe about Christians in a Muslim society.” According to the woman, who now lives in the United States, “an anti-Christian attitude is a big part of the national identity [in Turkey], so anyone or anything that promotes Christianity is automatically suspicious.”
School textbooks taught her that “it was the Christians who wanted to plunder the lands and the riches of the Muslim world” and Turks merely responded by “defend[ing] what was rightfully theirs.” (In reality, modern Turkey consists of territory that was Christian for more than a millennium before being brutally conquered in the name of jihad.)
“Everything is used to make the Christians look like villains,” she said. “It’s the same all through Muslim countries.”
And that’s the point. If Palestinian schoolchildren are being indoctrinated to hate Israel and Jews for “stealing their land” and generally oppressing them, what explains the fact that children throughout the Islamic world are also being indoctrinated to hate non-Muslims, particularly disenfranchised Christian minorities who, far from “lording” over Muslims, are currently being persecuted by them?
Indeed, hatred for religious minorities in Muslim countries actually helps explain why Israel is so reviled. If, as Muslim children are taught, infidels must always be at their feet—“Muslims are Jerusalem’s masters and no voice shall be higher than their voice [there],” Palestinian texts teach—surely only militant outrage will remain whenever Muslims find themselves under “infidel” authority.
Raymond Ibrahim is the author of “Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West,” a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.