Botched EU Research Falsely Claims Israeli Textbooks Promoting Tolerance Were Published by Palestinian Authority, NGO Says
A long-awaited report by the European Union (EU) into the problem of incitement in school textbooks published by the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been plagued by faulty research that falsely claimed Israeli textbooks promoting tolerance were published by the PA, an Israeli NGO that is closely involved with the issue revealed on Tuesday.
A statement from Impact-se — a Jerusalem-based educational institute that monitors and analyzes textbooks in schools around the Middle East — described the EU’s review process as a “comedy of errors.”
Initiated by the UK government in April 2018 at a cost of 220,000 euros, the report’s interim findings have still not been published more than two years later. Despite assurances across several months that the interim findings would be made public, the most recent statement from an European Commission official, on July 1, said that publication “is not foreseen.”
A copy of the report was obtained using freedom of information legislation, however. Once examined by Impact-se’s team, it was revealed to be strewn with factual errors and mistranslations, and based upon field research that was faulty beyond repair.
“The researchers have reviewed the wrong textbooks, taking textbooks for Israel’s Arab schools in Jerusalem, earnestly praising them and presenting them as coming from the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum,” Marcus Sheff — Impact-se’s chief executive — said in a statement.
The basic methodology of the introductory report was suspect, with several key words and phrases — among them “Nakba,” “Hamas,” “Al Haram Al-Sharif,” “martyrdom” and more — omitted from its quantitative analysis.
“The researchers’ introduction contains embarrassing mistranslations of basic Arabic, a lack of familiarity with Palestinian culture and, bizarrely, the citing of non-existent research,” Sheff said. “This is not a particularly complex project. It is hard to fathom how it went so wrong.”
A separate analysis by Impact-se of the Palestinian curriculum in grades 8-10 — the ostensible focus of the EU report — presented a very different picture.
“A reading comprehension exercise contains a story which describes the incineration of Jewish passengers on a civilian bus with Molotov Cocktails, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, using the expression ‘barbecue party’ [‘haflat shiwa’],” read one example from the Impact-se report.
It also noted, “Statistics is taught using a frequency table featuring numbers of martyrs killed by Israel.”
“All [Palestinian Authority] textbooks (100%) in humanities subjects contain at least some problematic content,” the NGO pointed out. “Not a single textbook in the corpus is free of violent connotations, incitement to violence, hatred of the other, and radical or disturbing content.”