November 24, 2001
A new range of textbooks used in Canadian-funded Palestinian schools has
failed to fulfill promises to the international community to modify Palestinian
hostility to the Jewish presence in Israel and promote peace in education.
According to 58 new textbooks and two teachers’ guides for grades 1, 2, 6, 7
and 11 published in the past two years by the Palestinian Authority, Israel does
not exist — nor does the concept of peace, a U.S. study has found.
Children are encouraged from the earliest school age to hate Israelis, glorify
“martyrs” and seek the “liberation” of all of Palestine, including Israel.
The analysis of the textbooks, published this week, was carried out by the New
York-based Center for Monitoring Impact of Peace (CMIP), a non-profit
organization dedicated to encouraging a climate of tolerance and mutual respect
between peoples and nations.
The study reveals the Palestinian Authority (PA) has removed some
anti-Semitic stereotypes that were featured prominently in Jordanian and
Egyptian textbooks previously used in the West Bank and Gaza, but no positive
or even neutral images of Jews and Israelis have been introduced.
“The PA curriculum does not teach the acceptance of Israel’s existence and
instead of working to erase hateful stereotypes, it is instilling them into the next
generation’s consciousness,” said Yohanan Manor, CMIP’s vice-chairman.
When presented with the report’s main findings, a spokes- man for the
Palestinian Education Ministry, which published the textbooks, refused to
comment. “I have nothing to say about this,” he said.
The new textbooks are being used throughout the Palestinian-controlled areas
in the West Bank and Gaza in 1,300 schools administered by the Palestinian
Authority and 261 run by the United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA).
Since 1993, Canada has contributed $165-million in direct aid to Palestinian
development programs, including education, plus a further $10-million annually
An additional grant of $5-million, announced in May by John Manley, the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, is about to be distributed through the World Bank to
a series of projects, including new schools and libraries.
The offensive textbook material has been included despite commitments made
by the Palestinian Authority in the May, 1994, Cairo Agreement, where both
parties undertook to “ensure that their educational systems contribute to the
peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.”
“Incitement in Palestinian media and schools betrays any interest in peace and
must come to an end if Palestinians are to be credible as partners for
peace-making,” Dennis Ross, a former U.S. Middle East envoy, wrote this
While there is recognition in the Palestinian textbooks of a sovereign Jewish
state under King David in ancient times, the modern state of Israel is never
Every map in every subject — from Grade 2 math to Grade 7 geography
— marks the entire area of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza as Palestine and fails
to show any modern Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv or Hadera.
The Oslo peace process, which brought the Palestinian Authority into
existence, is hardly mentioned and nowhere is the idea of peace with Israel
A similar report by CMIP a year ago on 360 textbooks used in Israeli schools
found dozens of examples where Israeli children were being taught to recognize
Palestinian claims and problems and where an effort was made “to prepare the
younger generation for openness and peace.
“Islam, the Arab culture and the Arabs’ contribution to human civilization are
presented in a positive light,” the report on Israeli textbooks found.
“No book calls for violence or war. Many books express the yearning for
peace between Israel and the Arab countries.”
Mr. Manor said CMIP did find some isolated examples of “prejudice, patronizing
expressions and disrespect to Arabs” in books used in ultra-orthodox Israeli
schools and the organization raised objections with representatives of those
But the Palestinian textbooks are replete with images of violence and hatred in
all contexts, reinforcing negative views of Israelis even in subjects far removed
from history or politics, the new study found.
A Grade 2 language textbook prompts young children to describe a series of
brightly coloured pictures in which Israelis uproot trees, expel Palestinians and
destroy their houses. A Grade 1 science book illustrates a magnifying glass by
enlarging a text which reads “Palestine is Arab.”
Mr. Manor expressed particular concern at the representation of Jews and the
Hebrew language and their connection to the Holy Land.
Jewish immigration to Palestine since the 16th century is described in
negative terms as “infiltration” and Hebrew is referred to as a dialect rather
than a language.
A Grade 7 “national education” textbook lists Christian and Muslim holy
places in Palestine but no Jewish ones.
The same book refers to “the attempt to Judaize some of the Muslim religious
places” such as the Western Wall in Jerusalem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs
in Hebron — both were built by the Jewish King Herod.
A population table for Palestine in a Grade 6 National Education textbook lists
1.9 million people on the West Bank, 1.1 million in Gaza, 1.1 million
“Palestinians of the Interior” (i.e. Israeli Arabs) and 4.4 million “Palestinians of
the Diaspora.” The five million Jews living in Israel are not mentioned at all.
The following excerpts show that the PA school system does not
envision a Palestinian state living peacefully side-by-side with Israel,
but actually replacing Israel:
“In the case of our country, Palestine, this interaction [between the
inhabitants’ efforts and the available resources] faces challenges of
which the most important ones are: the establishment of the
independent Palestinian state on our entire national soil.”
(The Palestinian Society – Demographic Education, Grade 11,
“There is no (relinquishment) of our right in Palestine.”
(Language exercise, Our Beautiful Language, Grade 6, pt. 1,
“I thought it advisable to return to my book in order to reassemble it
anew and present it to the sons of Arabdom in general and to the
sons of Palestine in particular, so that they will remember their
usurped homeland and work for its rescue.”
(From the preface of Mustafa Murad al-Dabbagh’s book “Our
country, Palestine” as quoted in: Our Beautiful Language, Grade 6,
pt. 1, p. 112)
“The Jewish claim to historical rights to Palestine has no
justification, it is a deceitful and disproved claim with no parallel in
history, it is a blatant lie…
they [the Arabs] have resided in it [Palestine] since the dawn
of the land’s history, before there were Jews in the world …
The Jews entered our homeland and left it just as other transient
nations have entered and left it …
The Arabs, and not the Jews, are those who have the connection
[to the land]. The return of the Jews to Palestine and permitting them
to establish a Jewish State contradicts history”
(Introduction to the “Our Country, Palestine” encyclopedia)
“There is no alternative to destroying Israel” (ibid., p. 13).
“The Achievements of the Palestinian Liberation Organization
[include] the establishment of the independent Palestinian entity on
the Palestinian lands that would be liberated.”
(National Education, Grade 6, 2000, p. 23)
“The demographic problem has occupied a central place in the
Arab-Israeli conflict during the last two decades. From the Palestinian
point of view it has become the numerical challenge that will enable
the Palestinian people during the coming two decades to stand
against the Zionist settlement expansion and overcome it. From the
Israeli point of view the demographic problem has become the
danger hidden in the rates of natural increase among Palestinian
families, which threatens in the foreseeable future the existence of a
Jewish majority population…
Therefore, the increase of fertility rates is a demographic weapon
that can be used in resisting the occupation. It plays a positive
role in winning the Arab-Israeli conflict…
The net migration of the Palestinians from 1948 until 1992 was always
negative, in the sense that the number of emigrants from Palestine was
much greater than the number of those who entered it.
The net migration became positive in 1992…”
(The Palestinian Society – Demographic Education, Grade 11,
p. 29, 36)