Report claims ‘no changes’ on hate, incitement in 82 percent of PA textbooks
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Report claims ‘no changes’ on hate, incitement in 82 percent of PA textbooks

Palestinian students are still learning mathematics by adding up the number of 'martyrs' according to new research by IMPACT-se

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

A Palestinian child stands on the illustrations of the British Union flag, the Israeli flag, and an American flag during a protest against the American peace plan in the Middle East, in Gaza City. (Photo by Mahmoud Issa / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A Palestinian child stands on the illustrations of the British Union flag, the Israeli flag, and an American flag during a protest against the American peace plan in the Middle East, in Gaza City. (Photo by Mahmoud Issa / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Assurances given to Britain’s Middle East minister about the contents of Palestinian school textbooks appear to have been hollow, in wake of a new report which shows little or no substantive change from “open antisemitism” and encouragement of “violence, jihad and martyrdom”.

On September 9, minister James Cleverly said that he had discussed the curriculum, and the textbooks used, with both the Palestinian Prime Minister and Minister for Education on his most recent visit. He said that the UK welcomed “the PA’s work to revise its textbooks and their intention to publish updated content for the start of the school year in September 2020.”

But in an updated report on the Palestinian school curriculum for the new school year, IMPACT-se, an Israeli organisation which analyses Middle East textbooks, has found that things are as bad as ever.

The report finds that Palestinian school students are still learning mathematics by adding up the number of “martyrs”, including those who have led suicide bombings on buses and shopping centres. The curriculum is taught in Palestinian Authority and UNRWA schools in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.

James Cleverly

IMPACT-se says that “no changes, in relation to hate and incitement, have been made to 82 per cent of the Palestinian Authority’s 2020-21 school textbooks made available this month by the Palestinian Ministry of Education for the 2020-21 academic year”.

The research has identified 152 modifications in the remaining 40 newly revised textbooks. “Almost 90 per cent reflect adjustments that keep the problematic material intact or made it worse”.

Maths, says the report “is still taught by adding numbers of “martyrs” who died in each Intifada. However, after what appears to be a recount, the number was corrected from 2,026 to 1,392 martyrs. These include the bombers of buses and shopping malls”.

In another modification, Dalal Mughrabi, who led the Coastal Road Massacre which killed 38 Israelis including 13 children, has been replaced by Khalil al-Sakakini, a notorious antisemite and Nazi sympathiser, in a reading comprehension. “Mughrabi herself has been moved to a different section of the textbook where she is now referred to as the ‘crown of the nation’”.

After complaints from European politicians about the content of the textbooks, including threats to withhold future funding if things were not changed, both the Palestinian prime minister and his education minister went on record saying that “positive changes” would be made.

MPACT-se’s chief executive, British-born Marcus Sheff, said: “It is disastrous that over one million Palestinian children are condemned to yet another year of sitting in PA and UNRWA schoolrooms being fed hate and incitement on a daily basis.

“The Palestinian Prime Minister and Minister of Education told senior European government ministers from donor countries, as late as the beginning of this September, that change is coming, obviously knowing full well it was not. Recalculating the number of suicide bus bombers for an arithmetic lesson is not the kind of change they were hoping for.

“Textbooks in the region are being improved. There are leaders who understand the importance of a peace education for the health of their own countries. But Palestinians are bucking the trend, firmly following the Iranian school of curriculum development and are demanding that the Europeans pay for it”.

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Spokesperson said: “The UK remains deeply concerned about allegations of incitement to violence in the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum.

“We have repeatedly raised this issue at the highest levels of the Palestinian Authority and successfully lobbied our European partners to commission an independent review of Palestinian textbooks, which is ongoing.”

Labour Friends of Israel chair Steve McCabe, commenting on the findings, noted that “The curriculum includes schoolbooks that teach five-year-olds the word for “martyr” and “attack” and 10-year-olds that “drinking the cup of bitterness with glory is much sweeter than a pleasant long life accompanied by humiliation”. Teenagers are taught that those who sacrifice themselves will be rewarded with “72 virgin brides in paradise”.

Mr McCabe added: “The impact of this propaganda on impressionable young minds is impossible to calculate. But what is unarguable is that it does nothing to promote Britain’s long-standing commitment to promoting a two-state solution, peace and reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians. Instead, it reinforces the cycle of hatred, violence and terrorism which has made this conflict so intractable”.

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