EU study finds incitement in Palestinian textbooks, remains unpublished

An unpublished report commissioned by the European Union in 2019 found clear evidence of Palestinian textbooks inciting to violence and antisemitism and was kept from the public by the European Commission, the German newspaper Bild reported Tuesday.

The 200-page report, commissioned by then EU foreign affairs representative Federica Mogherini, examined 156 textbooks and 16 teaching curriculums issued by the Palestinian Authority between 2017-2019, as well as 18 books published in 2020.

The study’s findings indicated well rooted inciteful learning materials in nearly all textbooks that it covered. They also pointed to  serious failings in the supervision of such materials – mostly funded by the EU – while ironically going against the organization’s core standard and values.

Examples found by the German researchers include the glorification of terrorists and suggested “educational” activities that include group discussions about “the attempts of the Jews to kill the prophet Mohammed.”

The study also found “Hostile attitudes towards Jews from Christian and Islamic religious scriptures,” the report notes, while classifying such notions as contemporary ideas, rather than providing them in historical context.

Specifically, one textbook for fifth graders tells the story of of Safiyya bint Abd al-Muttalib, the aunt of Prophet Mohammed, who beat a Jew to death with a wooden club. An exercise that follows places the story in political context and encourages pupils to consider “their willingness to make sacrifices and their steadfastness in the face of the Jewish-Zionist occupation.”

The very notion of violence seems to play a major role in Palestinian education, the findings show. As an example, a textbook used in 8th grade shows a picture of a Palestinian rioter shooting Israeli soldiers. This apparently gets worse for older students – up to the point of actively encouraging 12th graders to find ways of expressing violent resistance.

The study indicates that while students are asked to analyze historical moments in Palestinian history, such as 1987’s First Intifada, there is no mention whatsoever of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings against Israelis. Moreover, the State of Israel itself is not shown on nearly any of the maps used in the textbooks examined. Rather, the term “Palestine” is used to cover the entire region of Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Israel is demonized in the eyes of Palestinian children from an early age, as is reflected in the textbooks used in Palestinian schools. Researchers note that Israel is generally described as  a “homogeneous violent collective,” while individuals are either not mentioned or dehumanized.

The study mentions one example that the Bild report notes of an actual attempt to depict history in a history book for 10th grade  students – depicting the peace negotiations between Yasser Arafat and Itzhak Rabin and the PLO’s recognition of Israel. However, it concludes that this example is exceptional, and does not reflect most “passages and textbooks in which Israel’s right to exist is denied.”

It is unclear when the EU eventually decides to publish the report, or the implications that it may have on European funding to the Palestinian education system.

“In July 2020, an Interim Report was submitted to the EU for approval. Interim reports are working tools intended for monitoring purposes and do not contain substantial conclusions. They provide partial information and non-conclusive assessments. The interim report was not made public in any way,” a statement by the European Parliament read.

“It would be premature to draw conclusions on the basis of an Interim Report. The Commission will draw conclusions on the basis of the study once it is completed and will present the findings to the European Parliament. The results of the final study will inform the EU’s policy dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.”

Following Bild’s report, IMPACT-se released a statement reiterating what it has been claiming for years. “This report confirms the findings published by IMPACT-se over the last five years,”  IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff wrote. “The question is, will EU policymakers finally take action to condition EU funding to the PA on positive reforms to the curriculum as the European parliament has demanded on several occasions.”

The Foreign Affairs later released a statement addressing the EU report, noting that the study’s findings “prove Israel’s consistent claims of incitement in Palestinian textbooks that include antisemitic components and deny that existence of Israel while glorifying violence as means of solving the conflict.”

The study also proves that the EU continues to invest millions in the Palestinian Authority’s education system to promote so called peace and democracy, without supervising the content that appears in their textbooks,” the statement added.






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