Perpetuating hatred, legitimizing violence, and erasing Israel - PA PM defends PA curriculum despite criticism leveled by EU report
PA PM Shtayyeh endorses PA curriculum that implies to kids that violence and terror against civilians are legitimate means
PA PM Shtayyeh justifies teaching kids that there is no State of Israel but only “Palestine”
A recent report on PA schoolbooks commissioned by the EU found that some of the PA schoolbooks in use today include antisemitic content, present Palestinian violence and terror against Israelis as part of a “heroic struggle,” and deny the legitimacy of Israel's existence through maps that erase Israel and label the entire area “Palestine.” Despite the damning findings, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh defended the entire PA curriculum and endorsed all content of PA schoolbooks, stating that PA books ought to be judged by different standards than other curricula:
“The Palestinian curricula cannot be judged by standards far from the history and culture of our people, their suffering, and sacrifices to obtain their right to freedom and independence from occupation, injustice, and colonialism.”
[Website of the PA Government, English original, June 21, 2021]
According to the EU report, which was conducted by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, the mass murderer Dalal Mughrabi, who led a bus hijacking and murder of 37 Israelis - among them 12 children - “is given a prominent depiction in the textbooks, symbolising the armed violence of ‘resistance’ in the form of terror attacks on Israeli citizens and institutions...” [Report on Palestinian Textbooks, 2021, p 112] in the PA schoolbooks. The report further explains that terrorist Mughrabi and her fellow terrorists’ violence is presented as “fair and therefore justified.” [p. 114] Moreover, Mughrabi is also presented as a strong woman who “resisted colonialism.” [p. 109]
Endorsing the entire PA curriculum, PA PM Shtayyeh thus justifies the portrayal of murderer Mughrabi as a role model for youth, and especially as an example of women’s empowerment. PM Shtayyeh also sanctions that Palestinian children are indirectly taught that it is legitimate to use violence and terror against civilians - the ultimate essence of Mughrabi’s “fame,” and that for which she is known among Palestinians.
By his statement, Shtayyeh also approves of the denial of Israel's right to exist in any borders, as is taught to Palestinian children through maps that show all of the State of Israel as included in “the State of Palestine.” According to the EU report:
“The term ‘Israel’ occurs relatively seldom, while the term ‘(Zionist) occupation’ dominates in the books. The cartographic representations of All-Palestine, as a political entity, a geographical region or an imagined homeland, generally do not include the State of Israel…” [p. 4]
“None of the geographical maps of the region or symbolic or iconographic presentations of the territory identified in the corpus depicts Israel as a state.” [p. 75]
“Maps presented in Palestinian textbooks reflect the conflict in a highly symbolic manner. The cartographic representations of an imagined All-Palestine, either as a political entity or an imagined homeland, generally do not include a spatial representation of the State of Israel or of cities founded by Jewish immigrants. The State of Israel and cities such as Tel Aviv are not charted on these maps. Sites or cities located in Israel that have large Arab-Palestinian populations are incorporated into the imagined All-Palestine, as are landscape formations that lie within Israeli state territory. A few maps show the borders of the West Bank and the settlements within it, thus visualising the disconnected territorial space administered by the Palestinian Authority.” [p. 172]
The EU report also found some PA schoolbook texts to include antisemitic descriptions of Jews. For example, one text was found to send “the message that the Jews as a collective are dangerous and deceptive.” [p. 89]
When Shtayyeh defended the entire content of all the books and said that “Everything mentioned in our school textbooks is an accurate and honest description of the suffering of our people for more than seven decades,” it would include his approval of any antisemitic descriptions of Jews.
Earlier this month, Palestinian Media Watch exposed the PA’s adamant rejection of “any conditional funding by any source that targets our Palestinian curricula.” In other words, despite the findings of the EU report, the PA expects foreign donors to continue funding the PA education system, and disregard the fact that that system plays a critical role in both proliferating hate and promoting a world in which Israel does not exist.
The real question is whether major donors to the PA - such as the EU - will demand reform as a condition of continued funding, and thereby potentially create a chance for peace, or whether they will capitulate to the dictates of the PA, condemning another generation of Palestinian children to a reality of brainwashing, hate and violence.
The following is Shtayyeh’s defense of the entire PA curriculum:
PA PM Muhammad Shtayyeh: “It's important to emphasize that our educational curricula reflect our lives, our children's dreams for freedom, and the suffering of our people from the occupation and its violations. Everything mentioned in our school textbooks is an accurate and honest description of the suffering of our people for more than seven decades, during which they suffered from forceful displacement and from the killing of their children in massacres that the Israeli archive reveals its horrific details.
While our curricula respond to our children's cultural, historical, psychological, scientific, technological, economic, and development needs, they also deal with the international charters and resolutions that consider the Palestinian territory an occupied territory. The curricula respond to UNESCO standards and values of truth, justice, and equality, which are the values that our people struggle to obtain with the end of the occupation of our land.
The Palestinian curricula cannot be judged by standards far from the history and culture of our people, their suffering, and sacrifices to obtain their right to freedom and independence from occupation, injustice, and colonialism.
I call on Europe to conduct a study of Israeli textbooks and curricula similar to the study prepared on our curricula by a German institution and a fund from the European Union.”
[Website of the PA Government, English original, June 21, 2021]
The EU’s Report on Palestinian Textbooks 2017-2019 was researched and written by The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research and published in June 2021.