Skip to main content

PMW op-ed: The worst chapter in Palestinian schoolbooks

Itamar Marcus  |

The worst chapter in Palestinian schoolbooks

So if it weren't scary enough for the children
to be told they have to go out and kill, PA educators teach
them that "heroes" are willing to fearlessly die as martyrs
By Itamar Marcus, Oct. 24, 2018

If you want to know why Palestinian children believe that killing Israelis is model behavior, all you have to do is look at a chapter in one of their schoolbooks.

PA schoolbooks have been criticized ever since Palestinian Media Watch wrote the first report on them in 1998, and the newest books in some respects are the worst ever. However, one chapter stands out in its overt promotion of terrorism. This chapter, appearing in the fifth-grade Arabic Language book published in 2017, serves as a window to understanding the PA leadership's profoundly twisted values.

The chapter starts innocently by stressing the importance of heroes to national identity and national pride: "Heroes have an important position in every nation... the people - even if they are divided over many things - they all agree regarding the pride in their heroes..."

The schoolbook continues and teaches students that feeling pride is not enough. Society takes numerous active steps to honor its heroes: "[We] sing their praise, learn the history of their lives, name our children after them, and name streets, squares, and prominent cultural sites after them..."

In short, society assures that heroes are never forgotten. They might have lived in earlier times, but by naming streets and squares after them and singing their praise, these heroes remain in Palestinian consciousness.

The next message is most important: The children are taught that these heroes are not merely memories of the past they are the role models for the future: "Every one of us wishes to be like them."

Until now this messaging is not problematic, however, all that changes when the schoolbook presents the 10 people who PA educators promote as the role models Palestinian children should emulate. The list of Palestinian heroes includes no scientists, no doctors, no engineers, no singers, no athletes, nor any artists. There have been three Muslim Nobel Prize laureates in science and two in literature, but they are not on the list of Palestinian heroes.
Who are the Palestinian heroes then according to the PA schoolbook? They are 10 Muslim combatants from the first century of Islam through the 21st century. And possibly the worst name on this list of role models is terrorist mass-murderer Dalal Mughrabi.

Mughrabi led a team of terrorists who hijacked a bus in 1978 and murdered 25 adults and 12 children. Among those she murdered when she threw a hand grenade inside the bus was a young Israeli woman Rebecca Hohman and her two sons: Ilan, aged three and Roi, aged six. Mughrabi, a child murderer, is the person Palestinian educators are telling children to see as their role model, someone "everyone wants to be like."

After naming the 10 heroes, the PA schoolbook stresses that there is no one better than these fighters: "These heroes are the crown of their nation, they are a symbol of its glory, they are the best of the best, the best of the noble people."

That's not all that is horrific. Mughrabi was killed during her terrorist attack and others on the list were killed in battle. The PA schoolbook focuses on their deaths and glorifies their willingness to die: "They took their lives in their hands and threw them at the dangers, without losing their determination and without weakening and surrendering. Some of them died as martyrs, some of them died on the way to fulfilling their obligations, as heroes."

So if it weren't scary enough for the children to be told they have to go out and kill, PA educators teach them that "heroes" are willing to fearlessly die as martyrs. The final sentence of the chapter they are taught what this means for them if they don't want to adopt this heroic behavior: "Bravo to the heroes, and scorn to the cowards!"

Tragically, presenting Dalal Mughrabi as a hero and role model is not accidental or in isolation but is part of a broad almost cult-like worship of Mughrabi directed by the Palestinian Authority. The PA Ministry of Education has named five schools as well as sporting events after Mughrabi. City squares and community centers bear her name. Videos with her picture and story are produced and appear regularly on Fatah and PA media channels. Every year on the dates surrounding her mass murder Fatah and the PA make sure her name and face appear regularly up in lights. There was a march in Bethlehem to celebrate the founding of Fatah and three giant posters led the parade. Two posters had pictures of Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas - internationally known and recognized leaders of Fatah and the PA. The third poster had the picture of Dalal Mughrabi. Dalal Mughrabi was not a leader. She was a terrorist murderer who did one thing in life to make her famous. And yet she completes the PA trinity with the PA leaders.

This cult-like worship of murderers is fundamental to the depraved value system that Palestinian leaders have promoted since the PLO's founding in 1965, and upon which the PA has indoctrinated its children since 1994. It is not surprising that so many of the Palestinian terrorists in recent years have been teenagers, including the recent murderer of Israeli-American father of four, Ari Fuld. The Palestinian leadership has been transmitting its "kill an Israeli - be a hero" message for decades, and judging by the results, it is clear that Palestinian children have been listening.

So these are the choices racing through the minds of Palestinian children who just studied one of the worst chapters in their schoolbooks:
If I, Palestinian child, am willing to kill Israelis and be a martyr, then I will then be the best of the best, the crown of my nation, streets will be named after me and I will be a Palestinian hero;
if I am not willing to kill Israelis and be a martyr, then I am a coward.

If you were an impressionable child, which path would you choose?

The writer, director of Palestinian Media Watch, represented Israel in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on incitement and co-authored with Nan Jacques Zilberdik, Deception: Betraying the Peace Process.

[The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 24, 2018]

RelatedView all ❯