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Senator Hillary Clinton and PMW in joint press conference introducing report on Palestinian schoolbooks

Senator Hillary Clinton:
Good morning everyone, and thank you very much for being here.

It is my privilege once again to join Palestinian Media Watch for this press conference, and for the latest report that they have compiled about the Palestinian textbooks.
Director Itamar Marcus, who has been a steadfast leader, has helped to deliver this message which we repeat again today - we must stop the propaganda to which Palestinian children are being exposed. That must be a priority for all people who care about children, who care about the kind of peace, stability, safety and security that Israel deserves to be guaranteed. And it should be a priority for everyone who cares about the future of the Palestinian people. I’m also pleased that with us today is Associate Director Barbara Crook, with whom I have also met in the past to discuss these issues.

I have been speaking out against the incitement of hate and violence in Palestinian textbooks for years. In 2000 I joined Nobel peace prize winner Elie Wiesel in New York to denounce the
lessons of hatred and violence that are part of the curricula in Palestinian schools. I wrote, with my colleague Senator Schumer, a letter to President Bush, urging his Administration to do everything in its power to persuade the Palestinians to reverse their hateful rhetoric and embrace the opportunity to move toward a strong and lasting peace in the region.

I joined with Itamar at a Senate hearing, where I reiterated the importance of our country making it clear in every way - these children deserves an education that instills respect for life and peace instead of glorifying death and violence. The videos we viewed at that Senate hearing were a clear example of child abuse. I said that at the time and I repeat it again today. Children were encouraged to see martyrdom and armed struggle and the murder of innocent people as ideals to strive for.

Today, we are here once again to release a report that is deeply disturbing, particularly for the denial of Israel’s existence and the historical omissions of the Holocaust, to cite just two examples.

These textbooks do not give Palestinian children an education; they give them an indoctrination. When we viewed this report in combination with other media that these children are exposed to, we see a larger picture that is disturbing. It is disturbing on a human level, it is disturbing to me as a mother, it is disturbing to me as a United States Senator, because it basically, profoundly poisons the minds of these children.
Hate has no place in the curriculum of schools, and the glorification of violence has no place in the education of children.

This propaganda is dangerous. You know, words really matter. Some people sort of downplay the importance of words. But words really matter. Because in idealizing for children a world without Israel, children are taught never to accept the reality of the State of Israel, never to strive for a better future that would hold out the promise of peace and security to them, and is basically a message of pessimism and fatalism that undermines the possibility for these children living lives of fulfillment and productivity.

This has dire consequences for prospects of peace for generations to come.
Very briefly, the report finds the following in these textbooks: the founding of Israel is described as “a catastrophe that is unprecedented in history.” There is a portrayal of the region in both maps and text in which Israel does not exist. There is the denial of the Holocaust by the omission of historical facts connecting Nazi ideology and actions with the persecution and murder of Jews. For example, the report states, “The textbook teaches the military and the political events of WWII in significant detail including sections on Nazi racist ideology, yet neither the persecution of Jews or the Holocaust is even mentioned.”

Now we will hear more in a minute about this, but I believe education is one of the keys to lasting peace and security in the Middle East and the greater region. For this reason I am deeply concerned by these findings. We cannot build a peaceful, stable, safe future on such a hate-filled violent and radical foundation.

In the years since, I and others - who have been doing it long before I did in 2000- raised this issue, there has still not been an adequate repudiation of this by the Palestinian Authority. A few days ago several of my colleagues from the New York City Council, including my friend the Speaker Chris Quinn, were in Sderot, and the city came under attack from Palestinian rocket fire. The attacks are not diminishing, they are continuing. Every opportunity that there can be for an attack seems to be seized by those who are rejectionists of any different future. And I worry about the chance for peace when the next generation is learning that fighting Israel is a glorious, religious battle for Islam, as this report points out.

So it is now my privilege to introduce Itamar Marcus, Director of Palestinian Media Watch, who will present the deeply disturbing findings of this report and speak to the importance of action.
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