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April 19, 2018 10:12 am

EU Approves Amendments to Combat Intolerance in Palestinian Textbooks

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The European Parliament’s debating chamber during a plenary session in Strasbourg. Photo: David Iliff.

The European Union’s parliament approved amendments on Wednesday that aim to prevent aid to the Palestinian Authority from financing educational materials considered discriminatory or intolerant.

The measures were adopted by the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control, and relate to the PEGASE fund, through which the EU provides support to the PA.

“The European Parliament … insists that educational material financed by Union funds, including PEGASE, comply with the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education adopted by education ministers of the Union in Paris on 17 March 2015,” one amendment reads.

It also commits the EU to ensure that its funds “are spent in line with UNESCO-derived standards of peace and tolerance in education.”

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The second amendment — explicitly marked as relating to PA funds — likewise requires “that teaching and training programmes” supported by the EU reflect the same “common values.”

The PA has long been criticized for using educational materials that the Israeli government and watchdog groups have accused of radicalizing youth and inciting violence against Jews and the Jewish state.

A review of the PA’s curriculum for grades 1-11 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,” the Jerusalem-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) warned in December.

The research group — which has presented its findings to EU officials, and worked with lawmakers to formulate the amendments — celebrated their adoption.

“It is bizarre that for over ten years, the PEGASE fund has transferred around €3 billion [$3.7 billion] to the PA, a significant amount of which goes to the Palestinian education sector,” said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff. “In all that time, there have been no real attempts by the European Commission to ensure that Palestinian children, who the EU supports in the classroom, receive an education based on European values — the values of peace and tolerance.”

While the Palestinian curriculum underwent a full reform starting in 2016 with the help of European diplomats, the PA’s new textbooks “clearly show that the curriculum is more radical than ever,” he observed. “The European Parliament has clearly decided that enough is enough.”

European nations are major donors to the PA, and have given significant aid to projects backed by the Palestinian Ministry of Education.

In October, Belgium announced that it would suspend any efforts to construct or furnish Palestinian schools, after one built with Brussels’ aid was renamed in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist who in 1978 helped massacre 38 people — including 13 children — near Tel Aviv.

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