February 15, 2007
New Palestinian schoolbooks give children "an indoctrination," not an education
Dear Friend of FLAME:
Please tell me: In the face of decades of Palestinian terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians, a drumbeat of racist sloganeering by Palestinian imams, and a history of unrelenting lies by Palestinian political leaders, how can so many Americans---including many Jews---still extend sympathy to the Palestinian cause? This week more evidence emerges (as if we needed it!) that Palestinian leaders and culture are hopelessly recalcitrant.
First, despite rumors of a "peace treaty" between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (led by Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas), crafted in Medina, Saudi Arabia last week, be there seems to be no change in Hamas' fervent desire to destroy Israel. Just this week a Hamas spokesman confirmed that it will not recognize Israel, will not abandon "the resistance" (i.e., terror) and will not discard its principles.
Hamas' intransigence (and honesty to a fault) comes as no surprise. Nor should duplicity on the part of Mahmoud Abbas surprise us. Abbas has been recently making nice with Condaleeza Rice, hoping to win her favor and chip loose more money for the effectively bankrupt Palestinian Authority. While Abbas tells Western envoys that he's willing to recognize Israel and negotiate a two-state solution (just as his mentor, Yasser Arafat, used to do), Abbas clearly doesn't believe what he says (again, like Arafat) and certainly can't be trusted to deliver a conciliatory message to his own people.
Now, thanks to Palestinian Media Watch, which monitors news media and other publications in the territories, we discover that the latest textbooks for Palestinian 12th graders---which are produced not by Hamas, but under jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority---are cesspools of anti-Israel hatred. One thing is abundantly clear: These books are not the teachings of a people hungry for peace or people who welcome Jews as neighbors. Rather, the position of these venomous tomes is that Israel should never have existed and should not be permitted to continue existing. What's more, these texts raise the stakes for Palestinian adolescents, teaching that Islam is in a life-and-death struggle with the U.S. and the rest of Western civilization.
The brief article below summarizes a just-released 35-page report on the new schoolbooks, which was written by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook at Palestinian Media Watch. The group has wisely enlisted the high-profile assistance of New York Senator Hillary Clinton in announcing the report, titled "From nationalist battle to religious conflict: New 12th grade Palestinian schoolbooks present a world without Israel." I think this article will help you explain to others why any attempts to negotiate with the current Palestinian leadership---whether from Hamas or Fatah---are pure folly.
New Palestinian schoolbooks present a world without Israel, turn territorial dispute into religious conflict, and reflect an anti-Western bias
Washington, DC - The new Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks for Grade 12 encourage students to see Israel, the US and the West as enemies, and portray the PA's territorial disputes with Israel as an existential religious conflict for Islam, according to a report released today by Palestinian Media Watch and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The report, "From Nationalist Battle to Religious Conflict: New 12th Grade Palestinian Textbooks Present a World Without Israel," was written by PMW director Itamar Marcus and associate director Barbara Crook, and analyzes eight textbooks released at the end of 2006.
According to the report, the new books create for students an image, both textual and visual, of a world without Israel. They reject Israel's right to exist, while describing its founding as a "catastrophe that is unprecedented in history." According to the report, the books encourage students to see themselves as victims of Israel's existence, and actively prevent these young people from seeing Israel as a neighbor to live beside in peace. The history books barely acknowledge the peace process. This is compounded by the presentation of the conflict as a religious conflict to defend Islamic land, and leaves no latitude or religious option for students to have positive—or even neutral—attitudes towards Israel.
The textbooks likewise portray the US and the West in negative terms, describing the relationship as a "clash of civilizations." The books teach that the US is a human rights abuser and a violator of international humanitarian law. The texts assert that the US is an economic supporter of Israel, while completely ignoring the US aid to the PA and to Palestinian humanitarian projects.
"I believe that education is one of the keys to lasting peace in the Middle East and for this reason I am very concerned with these findings. Ever since we first raised this issue some years ago there still has not been an adequate repudiation of incitement by the Palestinian Authority. It is even more disturbing that the problem appears to have gotten worse. These textbooks don't give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination," Senator Clinton said.
"Teaching Palestinian children that the conflict is religious and not territorial will leave no possibility for compromise and could guarantee another generation of conflict," said Marcus.
The Grade 12 texts analyzed in the PMW report are the most recent books to be written by the Palestinian Curriculum Development Center. The director of the curriculum committee, Dr. Naim Abu Al-Humos, is a long-time member of the Fatah party and was appointed PA Minister of Higher Education in 2002, under Yasser Arafat, and continued after PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's election.
"It's very significant and disturbing that these new books contain ideology that has been associated mainly with Hamas—especially the unequivocal denial of Israel's right to exist and the portrayal of the conflict with Israel as a religious struggle, not a territorial dispute," says co-author Crook. "But this ideology is being prepared for Palestinian youth by veteran Fatah educators, not by Hamas."