On 11th February 2021, the Zionist Federation of UK and Ireland, in partnership with the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and We Believe in Israel, held an event ‘Educate for Peace: Stop Funding Incitement in the Palestinian Curriculum’.
With guest speakers Marcus Sheff of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), The Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP (Parliamentary Chair of Conservative Friends of Israel) and Steve McCabe MP (Chair of Labour Friends of Israel), the evening’s proceedings shone a spotlight on the issue of how entire generations of Palestinian children are, quite literally. being taught to hate Israelis, Jews and the concept of peace.
As ZF Chair Paul Charney said in his closing statements, “This is a human rights issue, it’s about indoctrinating an entire generation with the burden of violence against the peace-desiring nation of Israel…it’s a prison sentence for the youth who they’re inciting upon“.
Amidst claims that there is no incitement in the Palestinian curriculum, some refer to a US State Department-funded report from circa 2013 which cleared the Palestinians of demonising Jews in its school textbooks. Commonly referred to as the ‘Wexler report’ after Professor Bruce Wexler of Yale University who headed it, the report was discredited even when it came out. It referenced curricula from over 15 years ago and those books have not been in use for many years now.
It is now long out of date
Dr. Arnon Groiss, who served as a member of the project’s Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) wrote an evaluation of the Wexler report basically hammering it, noting how the report took Haredi books (less than 15 % of Israel’s population) and painted them as the Israel curriculum, whereas in reality, certainly back then, most Haredi books were probably not even approved by the Israel Education Ministry at the time. Dr Gross is the former Director of Research for the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE, formerly the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace – CMIP) where he conducted research on Middle Eastern schoolbooks during the years 2000-2010 and authored a dozen reports on the attitude of Palestinian, Egyptian, Syrian, Saudi Arabian, Tunisian and Iranian schoolbooks to the “other” and to issues of peace and war.
You can Dr Groiss’ read his critique here.
You can also read Ben-Dror Yemini’s article on the research here.
The Palestinian curriculum of recent years is new. The PA reformed the entire curriculum in 2017. The concept of peace was entirely removed and the content became even more radical. The incitement and radicalisation in the PA curriculum is very real, and has been going on for many years, as acknowledged by the various International attempts to change the Palestinian curriculum:
- In December, 2019, the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act (H.R. 2343) was marked up by the US House Foreign affairs Committee. The bipartisan measure will ensure that Congress is for the first time reliably informed with the appropriate empirical data, as to whether the PA curriculum is rejecting peace and reconciliation with Israel while encouraging violence and hate.
- On August 29th, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) published a report calling on the Palestinian Authority to remove all inflammatory and discriminatory images and text from their school curriculum and textbooks. This report is the first time the UN has criticised Palestinian officials.
- In March 2019, European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini announced that the EU is taking the lead to investigate incitement and hate in the Palestinian curriculum. This follows passed legislation in European Parliament in April 2018 (see adopted CONT amendment, bullet 272 on page 54) designed to prevent EU aid to the PA from being used to teach hate. In September 2018, the European Parliament’s Budget Committee recommended to freeze €15 million in aid to the PA Ministry of Education (See amendment 1718 – BUDG/3543 adopted by BUDG on page 69).
- In March, the UK announced its participation in the EU study following legislation introduced by LFI Vice Chair Dame Louise Ellman in January and to the UK Parliament and LFI member questions to ministers, demanding that taxpayer money not be used to teach hate.
- In Germany, the government announced it will conduct an investigation into Palestinian textbooks following an expose of the curriculum in BILD
Amidst claims of similar incitement in the Israeli curriculum text books, you can read about IMPACT-se’s review of Israeli text books here, but in summary it was found that they:
- Identify peace as the ultimate goal, depicting it as highly desirable and achievable. War is considered a negative event, though at times necessary.
- Acknowledge a Palestinian presence pre-1948, the development of a national Palestinian identity and different aspects of the Palestinian narrative and experience.
- Recognise in maps the physical presence of Palestinians, including Palestinian cities. They mark Palestinian Authority territories, the “Green Line” and at times detail A, B and C territories.
- Do not carry messages of incitement or stereotypes of Palestinians.
- Include ethnocentric themes and identify Israel and Jews as the main victims of war and violence, reacting to Arab or Palestinian hostility.
- Explain the complexities and political disagreements within Israeli society but maintain a clear message of tolerance and coexistence with regard to Arab and Muslim minorities and toward Palestinian-Israeli citizens in particular. Textbooks include respectful representation of Arab and Muslim culture and heritage, including direct and personal narratives of Arab and Muslim minorities in Israel.
- Meet UNESCO-derived standards of peace and tolerance.
We do hope this goes some way in dispelling the false claims currently circulating about this important issue.
Some additional links to look at on more developments are as follows: