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June 18, 2021 3:45 pm

After Delay, EU Releases Report Detailing Antisemitism, Incitement to Violence in Palestinian Textbooks

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General view of European Union ambassadors with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during special video conference of EU foreign ministers to discuss recent developments in the Middle East, in particular the ongoing violent confrontation in Israel and the disputed territories, in Brussels, Belgium May 18, 2021. Photo: Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

A European Union analysis of Palestinian textbooks was published Friday, following demands from European Parliament members to release the long-awaited report, as well as calls to withhold aid from the Palestinian Authority over violent and antisemitic incitement found in its educational materials.

The report — produced by the Germany-based Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research — analyzed 156 textbooks and 16 teacher guides published between 2017 and 2019 by the Palestinian Ministry of Education, in a range of subjects.

It found that PA textbooks trafficked in antisemitic tropes, removed previously-included references to Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements, and “glorified” as heroes terrorists convicted of killing Israelis. They also portrayed violence against civilians as part of a “narrative of resistance,” and conspicuously delegitimized Israel, erasing the Jewish state from maps and even avoiding mentioning its name.

The report’s executive summary emphasized that “Palestinian textbooks are produced and located within an environment saturated with ongoing occupation, conflict, and violence, which they in turn reflect.”

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“The analysis revealed a complex picture,” it said: “1) the textbooks adhere to UNESCO standards and adopt criteria that are prominent in international education discourse, including a strong focus on human rights, 2) they express a narrative of resistance within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and 3) they display an antagonism towards Israel.”

IMPACT-se, an Israel-based nonprofit which has studied PA textbooks, said that the report had “serious shortcomings,” drawing summary conclusions that were “incongruent” with the materials described in the report’s body.

“They argue that textbooks align with UNESCO standards, while the actual analysis of the report shows widespread antisemitism, violence, dehumanization, and rejection of peace, a clear violation of UNESCO standards,” the group said. “The authors strain to justify problematic findings; miss blatant violations of UNESCO standards in books the analyze, and they actively amplify singular positive messages to create an artificial sense of balance.”

Nevertheless, said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff, while the report was “deeply flawed, it states what has been obvious to all for years: that the Palestinian Authority systematically incites over a million children to antisemitism, hate and violence every school day.”

The Anti-Defamation League commented, “Glad the EU released this report on egregious hate & violence in PA textbooks. It has flaws (the books now are not meaningfully better & do not meet UNESCO standards), but transparency helps. Now the EU must ensure aid does not enable ongoing incitement.”

European and German legislators had previously criticized the EU for delaying the release of report, which was commissioned in 2019 by Frederica Mogherini, then EU foreign affairs representative.

Niclas Herbst, an Member of European Parliament from Germany’s ruling CDU Party, told the German newspaper Bild that the “secrecy of the EU Commission is counterproductive and incomprehensible.”

“One cannot speak in Germany of wanting to intensify this fight while at the same time financing the production of school books that call for terror against Jews,” commented German parliament member Frank Müller-Rosentritt.

On June 10, a group of 22 European Parliament members wrote to President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, calling for the publication of the report and the withholding of some PA funds until the incitement issue was addressed.

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