Report: New Palestinian Curriculum Praises ‘Martyrdom,’ Significantly ‘More Radical’ Than Before
Palestinian Authority textbooks issued for the new academic year are “significantly more radical” than their predecessors, routinely erasing Israel and glorifying “martyrdom,” a Jerusalem-based watchdog group has warned.
In its preliminary review of the grades 5-11 curriculum — which underwent a full reform starting last year — the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) found that Palestinian textbooks “groom young Palestinians to sacrifice themselves to martyrdom,” promote the idea of a mass “return” to Israel, and “feature a radical Islamist, and occasionally, a Salafi worldview.”
Inflammatory language is found in textbooks across the curriculum, regardless of age or subject matter, with Israel frequently described as the “Zionist Occupation” and Israeli land often labeled Palestinian.
In one instance, a social studies textbook for sixth graders includes a map of Palestine encompassing the entirety of modern-day Israel and the Palestinian territories, and claims that Palestine extends “From the Mediterranean sea in the west, to the Jordan River in the East.”
A geography textbook used in tenth grade similarly refers to the Negev Desert as Palestinian territory constituting “about half of the area of Palestine.”
Aside from erasing Israel, the new Palestinian curriculum also consistently glorifies terrorism, according to IMPACT-se’s report. In an Arabic language textbook for fifth grade, “martyrdom” and “jihad” are lauded as “the most important meanings of life.” Pages earlier, the same book lionizes Palestinian “martyrs” — a common euphemism for terrorists.
We “give their names to our children; we put their names on our streets and squares and the cultural places,” reads a passage in the book. “They taught people that drinking the cup of bitterness with glory is much sweeter than a pleasant long life accompanied by humiliation.”
One “hero” the book specifically encourages students to be “proud of” is Dalal Mughrabi — a Palestinian terrorist who led a massacre of 38 people, including 13 children, near Tel Aviv in 1978. She is mentioned alongside figures including Tariq ibn Ziyad, an 8th century Berber general who spearheaded the Muslim conquest of Spain, and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. “These heroes are the crown of their nation,” the book claims.
“Our Beautiful Language,” a book for third graders, similarly features a poem whose narrator vows to “sacrifice my blood” in order to “eliminate the usurper from my country” and “annihilate the remnants of the foreigners.”
These themes can be found in textbooks used in multiple other disciplines. Fourth graders studying mathematics are told to calculate the “number of martyrs” in the first and second Palestinian intifadas as part of an addition exercise. “The number of martyrs of the First Intifada (the Intifada of Rocks) is 2026 martyrs, and the number of martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Intifada is 5,050,” the textbook reads. “The number of martyrs in the two Intifadas is………. martyrs.”
Meanwhile, a science textbook for seventh grade teaches Newton’s Second Law through a cartoon depicting a Palestinian youth with a slingshot facing off against armed Israeli soldiers. “What are the forces that influence the stone after its release from the slingshot?” the text asks.
IMPACT-se also identified issues with the Palestinian curriculum’s Islamic education textbooks, which it claims “features Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood themes, from animated depictions of paradise and hell to references to polygamy and the suggestion that sex slavery is acceptable.”
A textbook for eighth graders says, “Islam is for the liberation of man from slavery,” yet claims that it is permissible to own “slave girls” and multiple wives if “slavery returns for some reason.”
These findings were presented by IMPACT-se in a series of meetings it held with representatives from the European Union, as well as four major European donors to the Palestinian Authority — Belgium, the UK, Finland, and Germany.
The group told The Algemeiner that “funding of the curriculum comes via the Joint Financial Agreement” — a pooled funding system that provides around half of the PA Ministry of Education’s budget.
The system is co-chaired by Belgium, which put on hold last month “any projects related to the construction or equipment of Palestinian schools,” following news that a West Bank school built with Belgian aid was renamed after Mughrabi.
The decision affects “two projects related to the construction of new Palestinian schools, for an amount of 3.3 million euros,” a spokesperson for the Belgian Foreign Ministry told The Algemeiner last week. He clarified that “projects that could not be put on hold, ie. schools that were already under construction or being built by third parties, were not affected by this decision.”