Report: Palestinian Curriculum Now ‘More Radical’

September 6, 2019
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The 2019-20 Palestinian curriculum in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is “more radical” than in previous years, according to a textbook monitoring nonprofit.

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se)’s September report on the curriculum explains since 2000, Jordanian curriculum has been used in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Egypt’s has been used in Gaza. 

2019-2020 marks “the first full restructuring of the Palestinian curriculum,” and IMPACT-se found it “to be more radical than those previously published” since “there is a systematic insertion of violence, martyrdom and jihad across all grades and subjects in a more extensive and sophisticated manner, embracing a full spectrum of extreme nationalist ideas and Islamist ideologies that extend even into the teaching of mathematics and science.”

Additionally, the curriculum advocates against any sort of peace agreement with Israel, stating there is zero Jewish claim to Israel – a marked change from past curricula – and that all of Israel will eventually belong to the Palestinians.

“Jewish history and heritage are repeatedly portrayed as forgeries; Jewish holy places are represented as Muslim areas usurped by the Zionists,” the report states. “Jewish existence in contemporary Israel is depicted as an aggression against the Palestinian and Arab character of the region. Jews are referred to as colonialist occupiers.”

There is also an increase in anti-Semitism in the curriculum, as “the Jewish/Israeli ‘other’ is presented though undertones of alienation and threat. Jews are maligned from the political rivalry with the Prophet of Islam. No objective information is provided about Israel and Jews that would serve to counterbalance the viewpoints of malleable Palestinian students.” The curriculum also refers to Israel in quotation marks.

Instead of suggesting peace, the curriculum lauds those who engage in “violent struggle for the liberation of Palestine” and encourage “death and martyrdom” for Palestinians to fight against Israel.

“Throughout the textbooks for all grades, the need for continuous struggle is stressed—using terminology like revolution, uprising, ribat and jihad, not only as part of a national struggle but also as a way of teaching and invoking extremist religious beliefs as a central goal of this curriculum,” the report states. “Lessons in the textbooks make a connection to the violent early Islamic period, fostering in students an emotional religious commitment to the current ‘national struggle.’ The rewards of paradise are clearly elucidated, including the usual promise of virgin brides. Those who pursue personal success and careers are portrayed as cowards. Subliminal messaging is evident, using images of conflicts as tools for teaching math and science.”

The report then lists several examples to support its contention that the curriculum is more radical, which includes:

  • An 11th grade textbook praising the 1972 Munich terror attack that resulted in the murder of 11 Israelis.
  • A 7th grade textbook teaching Newton’s laws of motion using a Palestinian boy aiming a slingshot at Israeli officers as an example.
  • A 3rd grade textbook containing a poem that reads: “I vow I shall sacrifice my blood, to saturate the land of the generous and will eliminate the usurper from my country, and will annihilate the remnants of the foreigners. Oh the land of Al-Aqsa and the Haram, oh cradle of chivalry and generosity Patient, be patient as victory is ours, dawn is emerging from the oppression.”

In April, Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill, titled the “Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act” that would require the State Department to review Palestinian textbooks and provide reports to Congress on them every year for 10 years.

Sherman said in a statement to the Journal, “The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’s recent concluding observations echo my long-standing concerns regarding the existence of ‘hate speech’ in school curricula and textbooks, and the hatred, violence, and particularly anti-Semitism that results from such materials. I am glad to see the United Nations body tasked with promoting dignity and equality for all calling for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to combat hate speech and incitement to violence, and the removal of any ‘derogatory comments and images from school curricula and textbooks that perpetuate prejudices and hatred.’”

He added, “The fact is, however, the Palestinian Authority’s textbooks are flawed. The ‘Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act’ seeks to provide for the ongoing monitoring of the textbooks to ensure we have an accurate picture so that any problems can be fixed.”

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