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December 15, 2020 2:08 pm

New Saudi Textbooks Show Improvement in Depiction of Jews and Israel, Study Finds

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

A general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, amid the coronavirus pandemic, May 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Ahmed Yosri.

New editions of Saudi Arabian textbooks show a significant improvement in their references to Jews and Israel, according to a new report published by a major research institute on Tuesday.

IMPACT-se — which monitors textbooks across the Middle East in regard to what they teach about Jews, Israel and non-Muslims — called the new Saudi educational materials “encouraging,” much of the hate speech and incitement included in previous editions had been removed.

Citations of a Muslim hadith — or saying of the Prophet Muhammad — that calls for genocidal war against the Jews, antisemitic conspiracy theories of Jewish world domination and calls for jihad and martyrdom had all been deleted, the group said.

Furthermore, Israel is being depicted in a manner that is “more balanced and tolerant.”

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A chapter on the “Zionist danger” is no longer present, thus removing passages claiming Israel has no right to exist and that it wants to conquer most of the Middle East.

However, IMPACT-se pointed out, “anti-Israel content does still remain in the curriculum.”

In particular, Israel is not shown on maps of the Middle East and is referred to as the “Zionist enemy,” and Zionism is still depicted as racist.

Antisemitism is also still present in teaching related to Islam, such as describing Jews as monkeys and saying Allah would punish them in his final judgement.

Nonetheless, IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said, “Examining the trendline of our 2002, 2008, and even 2019 reports of the Saudi curriculum, it is clear that these new 2020 textbooks represent an institutional effort to modernize the Kingdom’s curriculum.”

“The Saudi authorities have begun a process of rooting out anti-Jewish hate, including a notorious hadith that fueled antisemitism in the Muslim world,” he added.

“Further improvements need to be made,” Sheff declared. “But the overriding impression is of a willingness to engage, to participate in dialogue regarding curriculum content and finally move towards textbook reformation.”

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