Palestinian Authority Failed to Make Promised Changes to Antisemitic, Extremist Textbook Material: Study
by Dion J. Pierre
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has failed to uphold promises made to purge its curriculum of antisemitic and violent themes, a report by an Israeli education watchdog charged on Thursday.
Last September, PA officials agreed with European partners to reform its curriculum, after an EU funded report by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI) determined that its textbooks contained antisemitic tropes, glorifications of terrorists and violence against civilians, and no mention of Israel on any maps.
The problem persists through the current academic year, says IMPACT-se’s January 2022 report, “Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education Study Cards 2021-2022: Selected Examples.”
The Israel-based NGO “found that there were no revisions made to the PA curriculum for the current 2021-22 school year.”
“Contrary to the assurances made by the PA to its international partners that improvements would be made rapidly, the same problematic material identified in the 2020-21 textbooks by the GEI and IMPACT-se are still taught to students today,” said IMPACT-se, which studies curricula across the Middle East.
In one example of study cards for eleventh graders, the report found, Jews are accused of being “in control of global events through financial power” and leveraging “Zionist influence” to trigger wars between major powers. Additionally, the US intervention in World War II is described as a deal negotiated to reinforce Great Britain’s influence in Iraq and the Levant in exchange for its issuing the Balfour Declaration.
In grade 10, Palestinian students are taught that jihad is a “private obligation for every Muslim,” necessary “for the liberation of Palestine.” Girls in grade 8 are told that gender equality can be achieved through “sacrifice and self-sacrifice in invasions and battles.”
Science lessons also incorporate violent themes. In 8th grade physics, students use slingshots and reference photographic examples of their use in conflict to study potential energy.
“Dear student, you have near you several tools (a slingshot, a tennis ball, and an empty juice box),” says the study card for based on the textbook Science and Life. “Put the ball inside the slingshot’s rubber, then pull the slingshot and make the ball hit the box … (Note: we can substitute the slingshot with a game of bow and arrow)”
“The Palestinian Authority seems to have gone to a great deal effort to hoodwink its donor,” IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said on Thursday. “Faced with a clear call by the EU for them to create new textbooks free of hate and antisemitism, the PA simply reprinted the only ones then produced thousands of pages of new teaching material with content worse than the textbooks themselves.”
Students are shown antisemitic material as early as grade 7, said IMPACT-se. In the textbook Arabic Language, Vol. 1, Israeli soldiers are called “Satan’s aides” in a chapter imploring Muslims to “liberate” the Al-Aqsa Mosque “from the grasp of occupation.”
“Name some of the characteristics of the Jews,” says instructions from a ninth grade study card on Islamic Education, which recounts a 629 attack on the Jews of Khaybar that was purportedly prompted by their “perfidious actions” against the Prophet Muhammad. One “goal” of the lesson is to attain consciousness “of the importance of Jihad for the sake of God.”
Across various subjects in PA textbooks and study cards for all ages, students are encouraged to venerate terrorists, kill “infidels,” pursue the “Right of Return” to Israel with “all the means of warfare,” and disavow any notion of Jewish nationality and the right of Israel to exist. Israel still does not appear on any maps of the region.
“The EU was apparently unaware of any of this,” Sheff continued. “The majority of the EU’s donations to the PA goes to its education sector, so one has to ask what the EU delegation to Ramallah actually knows about what goes on in PA schools. At a time when the PA is facing a major budget crisis, they’re doubling down on teaching the hate that donor nations said they could no longer tolerate.”
After publication of the GEI report last year, members of the European Parliament said continued funding of the Palestinian Ministry of Education without changes to the content of its curriculum risks the body’s credibility.
“We cannot accept that this is financed with EU taxpayer money, ” German MEP Niclas Herbst, Budget Committee Vice Chair, said in September. “We should have zero tolerance when it comes to antisemitism and it has to be free of hate speech.”