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April 13, 2022 11:23 am
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European Diplomats Plead for PA Funding While Ignoring Schoolbooks That Call Israel ‘Satanic,’ Tell Kids to ‘Die as Martyrs’

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue

Opinion

Palestinian children compelled to participate in a Hamas military parade. Photo: Twitter.

Is rampant incitement to terrorism and antisemitism in children’s textbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority (PA) a problem that must be addressed?

Apparently not, suggests a letter signed by the foreign ministers of 15 European Union (EU) member states.

Addressed to Olivér Várhelyi, the EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, the missive slammed the European Commission over the decision to freeze some €200 million ($217 million) in aid to the Palestinian Authority, amid concerns about terror-glorifying materials being taught in schools.

Signed by the foreign ministers of Ireland, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden, it states:

We wish to reiterate our concern at the continued delay in the disbursement of EU assistance to Palestine [sic]  for 2021 due to Commission proposals to condition funding on education sector reform […]

The introduction of conditionality at a time when the Palestinian Authority is already engaged in an ambitious programme of educational reform risks undermining, or even reversing, progress achieved to date and could damage our on-going dialogue with the Palestinians on this and other issues. In addition, it is imperative that we do all we can to empower moderate voices vis-à-vis more radical actors.

The letter — passages of which were uncritically reproduced by several media outlets this week — is an egregious example of glossing over the crux of why this education overhaul is necessary: the numerous examples of schoolbooks encouraging children to wage jihad and murder Jews.

Furthermore, the claim that the Palestinian Authority is “already engaged in an ambitious programme of educational reform” appears to be untrue.

Following the publication of a study by the Georg Eckert Institute in June 2021, which found that PA textbooks included content that contained “antisemitic narratives and glorification of violence,” the EU Commission assured diplomats in Brussels that urgent discussions were taking place between representatives of the EU office in Ramallah and the PA Ministry of Education.

This, to ensure that the Palestinian leadership would act to remove “questionable content.”

However, a report analyzing PA textbooks for the current 2021-22 school year published in January by IMPACT-se, a non-profit watchdog group that monitors educational resources for extremist materials, found that despite assurances by the PA about curriculum reform — and the “alleged” implementation of a monitoring process — the original problems identified still persist.

Specifically, IMPACT-se found that:

  • Jews are presented in kids’ study materials as “devious, treacherous and hostile” in addition to promoting antisemitic conspiracies about Jewish global control exerted through financial power;
  • Youngsters are encouraged to commit jihad against Israelis and “die as martyrs liberating the Al-Aqsa Mosque”;
  • Israel is literally described as “Satanic,” and accused of demolishing Palestinian antiquities to rewrite the historical record;
  • Students are told that one of the “rules of jihad” is to die as a martyr while killing infidels, in addition to being told they should sacrifice themselves for their homeland and “redeem it with blood”;
  • Female students are told they gain equality through martyrdom;
  • Jihadist Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, which Hamas’ military arm is named after, is lauded;
  • It is claimed that the so-called Palestinian “Right of Return” will be actualized after being “painted with the blood of martyrs”;
  • Scientific teachings are illustrated through violence, such as a lesson in potential energy that shows a boy with a slingshot; and
  • Israel is completed excised from maps, and is instead incorrectly labeled as Palestinian territory.

It is clear, therefore, that the signatories’ assurances that ambitious educational reforms are taking place are a complete whitewash.

In addition, the letter serves to allow the media outlets reporting on its content to also ignore the central problem of PA incitement.

For example, the Irish Post’s report on the communication headlined, “Ireland critici[z]es EU delay in funds for Palestine amid warnings over food,” blandly explained the reasons for the funding conditions thus:

The letter accused the commission of delaying funding because it wanted to make the pay-out conditional on the Palestinian Authority reforming its education sector.

The article proceeds to quote Shane Stevenson, Oxfam’s country director in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel,” who claims: “The reliance on imports and the constraints forced upon them by Israel’s continuing military occupation, settler violence and land grabs are compounding the food crisis.”

This, despite the fact that the letter upon which the article is based does not mention Israel once.

Politico’s brief explanation of the story does make reference to the terror-glorifying textbooks, but couches them as mere allegations by “critics”:

As highlighted in Playbook last month, an internal row is underway in the Commission about a proposal to make funding for the Palestinian Authority conditional on securing changes to Palestinian school textbooks, which critics say contain anti-Semitic tropes and incitements to violence. [emphasis added]

If one was ever wondering why the incitement that permeates Palestinian society continues unabated, they would only have to look at the European politicians and journalists who so willingly turn a blind eye to it.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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