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April 6, 2021 4:37 pm

US Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill to Require State Department Review of Palestinian Curriculum

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

The US Capitol dome is seen in Washington, US, December 17, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Erin Scott

A group of four US lawmakers reintroduced on Monday a bipartisan bill that would require the US State Department to annually review textbooks and educational materials used by the Palestinian Authority for violent content, and to determine how US funds are used.

If passed, the so-called Bipartisan Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act would mandate that the State Department monitor the steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to reform the curriculum taught at schools to “conform with standards of peace and tolerance,” including the removal of content and passages embracing violence or intolerance. It also calls for a detailed report on how US funds are being used to address educational materials used by the Palestinian Authority to encourage violence or intolerance toward other nations or ethnic groups.

Representatives Brad Sherman (D-CA), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), David Trone (D-MD) and Brian Mast (R-FL) co-sponsored the bill, a version of which was put forward in 2019, during the previous session of Congress, but which did not receive a vote.

“The United States has provided millions of dollars to support the education of Palestinian children with the stated goal of equipping Palestinians with the tools to build a democratic, secular, and politically moderate Palestinian civil society as a driver for peace. As a result of the [US Government Accountability Office] findings, it is necessary for Congress to request additional reports from the State Department to ensure US taxpayer dollars promote dignity and tolerance, and that the educational materials such schools employ do not incite hatred,” said Congressman Brad Sherman in a statement. “Last Congress, this bill passed the Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously. I hope to work with my colleagues to build on this support and secure the passage of this bill in the 117th Congress.”

“This bill’s welcome reintroduction will send a clear message that Congress will not tolerate the teaching of hate and antisemitism in Palestinian schools,” said Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that studies school curriculum and that lobbied for the legislation.

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