Top EU Official Denounces Incitement, Racism in Palestinian Authority Textbooks, Demands Changes
A top European Union official has denounced Palestinian Authority textbooks as “deeply problematic” after a study found that the educational materials promote antisemitic tropes, glorify violence against civilians, and erase Israel from maps of the region.
At a meeting of the EU Parliament’s Working Group Against Antisemitism, Acting Director Henrike Trautmann of the EU Commission said, “It is very clear that the study does reveal the existence of very deeply problematic content.”
He asserted that “changes to the curriculum are essential” and “full compliance of all educational material with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence and non-violence must be ensured as must any reference of antisemitic nature … be addressed and taken out.”
EU Parliament Vice-President Nicola Beer opened the meeting by saying, “It hurts us to read about the content of textbooks that only exist thanks to an educational infrastructure that the European Union, together with other donors, enable the Palestinian Authority to have.”
“Depicting Jews as dangerous, demonizing them, perpetuating anti-Jewish prejudices is just upsetting,” she said. “But reading about schoolbooks — and here I speak as a mother — glorifying [Palestinian] terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, presenting cold-blooded violence against civilians, including a lot of children, as resistance leaves me speechless.”
The EU Parliament’s Budget Committee is set to meet this month on budget allocations, and several proposals have been raised to freeze aid to the Palestinian Authority if textbooks are not changed.
Marcus Sheff, CEO of the organization IMPACT-se, which researches Palestinian educational materials, commented, “This statement by a senior EU official that the textbooks in the Palestinian education sector it supports cannot continue to incite children to hatred and violence is particularly relevant, coming just a couple of weeks before the parliament debates freezing funding to the Palestinian Authority until changes are made.”
“There exists real strength of feeling and a common purpose across the political spectrum in Brussels that incitement in Palestinian textbooks now has to stop, and that European Union institutions will take a lead role in the process,” he said.
The EU’s study was conducted by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI) and analyzed 156 textbooks and 16 teacher guides published between 2017 and 2019 by the Palestinian Ministry of Education in a range of subjects.
At a Sept. 2 hearing, European parliament members were unanimous in condemning material revealed by the report.