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July 9, 2019 3:56 pm

Study: Jordanian Textbooks Have Greatly Improved in Promoting Moderate Islam, Tolerance, but Still Reject Israel

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Jordanian King Abdullah II. Photo: Reuters / Kayhan Ozer / Pool.

A new study has revealed that Jordanian textbooks have greatly liberalized in promoting moderate Islam and tolerance, but still reject Israel and its right to exist.

IMPACT-se, which conducted the study, stated that while the textbooks emphasized an abstract commitment to peace, “Israel is not envisaged to be part of it in any tangible manner.”

Israel “is typically described in the textbooks as a Zionist entity with no rights nor history,” said the study.

“The peace treaty between the two nations is mostly ignored,” it pointed out. “There is no discourse about peace and collaboration within the Israeli-Jordanian triad and no future vision toward Jordan’s close neighbor.”

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One textbook reprints a verse from a poem that says of Israel, “I vow I shall sacrifice my blood, to saturate the land of the generous and will eliminate the usurper from my country, and will annihilate the remnants of the foreigners.”

Another textbook presents a dialogue between a Palestinian grandmother and granddaughter, in which the daughter says, “I wish that I will see Palestine liberated from the Zionist Occupation.”

The study noted, however, that the curriculum did endorse a two-state solution, though it rarely mentioned Israel directly, preferring to speak about working with the Palestinian Authority to achieve this.

The curriculum also negates any Jewish connection to Jerusalem. One book states, “The Israeli Occupation’s attempts to Judaize Jerusalem, efface its Arab, Islamic, and Christian features and to empty it of its Arab residents, based on historical and religious claims, have no basis in reality.”

“Therefore,” it added, “Israel commits crimes and many destructive actions through which it aims to distort the history of the holy city, in order turn it into the capital of the Zionist-entity state.”

Elsewhere, the textbook implies that the Western Wall is not a Jewish site, and says Arab violence in 1929 erupted due to the Zionists’ claim that “the Al-Buraq wall is a Jewish holy site and they named it the Wailing Wall. This motivated the Palestinians to deny this claim, and the violations of the Islamic holy sites which followed.”

In another section, the textbook states that the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is the result of “forged Talmudic narratives,” saying, “The Israeli Occupation adopts policies which aim at Judaizing Jerusalem’s heritage and controlling its lands by claiming that these were archaeological excavations.”

“They try to connect everything that is discovered with forged Talmudic narratives of the city’s history, an attempt by the Occupation’s authorities to claim they have extended historical roots in Jerusalem and Palestine,” it states.

“During its archaeological excavations, Israel destroys and steals ruins which date back to the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic periods, and forges the truth about the remaining ruins, claiming that they go back to Jewish times, in an attempt to forge historical truths,” it adds.

The curriculum also violently rejects and delegitimizes Zionism, with one textbook calling it “a political racist colonial movement, aimed at establishing a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine, based on baseless historical claims.”

Another textbook explicitly equates Zionism and Nazism, saying, “Among the most prominent extremist movements in the last century were Nazism and Fascism. They were distinguished by their authoritarian view and the [belief] that their race was superior. In addition, the Zionist movement that carried extremist ideas, translated into intransigent and fanatic positions toward the rights of Arab-Palestinians in their occupied land.”

On the positive side, however, the report found that major progress has been made in discouraging radical Islam and promoting a more moderate form of the religion.

This is based on King Abdullah II’s 2004 Amman Message, which sought to promote the “Islamic message of tolerance” against those who “claim to be associated with Islam and hide behind Islam to commit irresponsible deeds.”

The study found that these principles have been successfully implemented in the Jordanian curriculum, with one textbook saying, “His Majesty Abdullah II bin al-Hussein published the message from Amman to tell the world: We are brothers; this is the Islam that is based on love and peace, and away from violence and terrorism.”

It then lists the principles of the message, including “honoring every human regardless of their color, gender, or religion”; “renunciation of violence”; and “showing compassion and benevolence toward all people.”

“The true Islamic religion was founded on balance, moderation, steering the middle course and facilitation,” says the textbook. “This religion has fought against extremism, radicalism and fanaticism every single day. … Islam rejects them.”

In regard to terrorism, a textbook says terror groups “are considered to be extremist organizations, ideologically and religiously, because they are organizations that dissented from the religion. They exploit the name of the religion.”

It also speaks of the “hidden goals” behind terrorism, “including agitating stable societies, killing innocent people, demolishing human civilization, and spreading division and enmity among people.”

The curriculum also promotes the idea of Islam as a tolerant religion, with one textbook saying, “Monotheism in its comprehensive sense embodies the most salient features of the nation’s cultural identity, alongside the existence of other religions such as Christianity and Judaism.”

“Members of the latter coexisted with Muslims within the framework of religious tolerance, followed by the Muslims in their relations with other members of heavenly religions,” it continued.

Another textbook cites Muhammad’s Charter of Medina, and says, “The Muslims have their faith and Islamic rituals, and Ahl al-Kitab [People of the Book] have the right to practice the rituals of their religion. It was written in the Charter: ‘To the Jews their religion and to the Muslims their religion. [This applies] to their dependents and to themselves.’ They are not forced to enter into Islam.”

The textbook also states, “People are equal before the law; there is no difference between rich or poor, or Muslim and non-Muslim.”

This tolerance is to be extended even to non-monotheists, a textbook says, asserting that toward “faiths having no roots in the religion of Allah or in his revelation, such as atheists who deny the existence of Allah, and faiths based on polytheism (such as worshiping idols, stars and planets) — Islam has stressed the principle of non-coercion in religion.”

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