Jews, Israel and Peace in
Palestinian School Textbooks
In the two academic years
2000-2001 and 2001-2002, the Palestinian
National Authority (PNA) introduced 58
new textbooks and two teachers' guides for
grades 1,2,6,7 and 11. CMIP has conducted
a comprehensive survey of these textbooks
in order to determine how they relate to peace,
tolerance, recognition and reconciliation according to criteria set by the international
CMIP has found that the
new PNA textbooks do not fulfill these criteria
in educating to peace and reconciliation with Israel,
but rather foster a multi-faceted rejection
of its existence. The educational approach
employed by the PNA does not reflect international
standards as defined by UNESCO (see their
criteria in the Introduction). The textbooks
do not teach acceptance of Israel's existence
on the national level, and instead of working
to erase hateful stereotypes, the new PNA
curriculum is instilling them into the next
The concept of peace
with Israel is not to be found anywhere
in the Palestinian schoolbooks. The peace process between Israel and the
Palestinians, based on the Oslo
Accords, is not mentioned. They fail
to teach the youth to see Israel as a neighbor
with whom peaceful relations should be desired.
Tolerance, both in a historical
and a contemporary context, is addressed
at length in the Palestinian textbooks.
It is described as being based on Islam's traditional approach of "accepting the members
of the monotheistic religions" and "respecting
the People of the Book in their religion,
property and ceremonies". However, in their
examples, the textbooks refer only to
tolerance between Moslems and Christians.
The Jews are not mentioned.
The Jewish connection to
the Holy Land is confined to antiquity.
From the Roman period onwards this Jewish link is ignored.
The Jews' return to Palestine is described
as "infiltration". Zionism is mentioned in a negative context only. The Jews are not "deserving" of Palestine. Hebrew is not considered one of the languages of
The State of Israel,
a member state of the UN since 1949, is not recognized. It
is referred to by substitute names such
as the lands within the "green line", "interior"
or "1948 lands". Its name does not appear
on any map, nor do any towns, villages and
projects (industries, harbors, railways,
etc.) created and developed by Israel. Israel
is presented as the usurper and occupier
since its establishment in 1948.
By contrast, the State
of Palestine (Dawlat Filastin) is
often referred to and its name appears with
the official emblem of the Palestinian National
Authority, on the cover and the front page
of many textbooks. Palestine stretches
from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean
Sea and is exclusively Arab. The 5.5
million Jewish inhabitants are not counted.
The maps that appear
in the textbooks continue to disregard
the existence of the State of Israel.
In most cases no names are given at all.
In other cases Israel's place on the map
is marked "Palestine". There are several
maps that delineate the contours of the West
Bank and the Gaza
Strip but do not name them. Areas located
in the territory of Israel within its 1949
borders, such as the Negev,
are presented as an integral part of Palestine.
The Arab population of Israel is counted
among the inhabitants of Palestine.
Jerusalem is presented as belonging to the Palestinians
alone, and as the capital of Palestine.
Its central importance and holiness for
the Jews are not mentioned, neither is the
fact that the Jewish population constitutes
the vast majority of its inhabitants.
The holy places in Palestine
are exclusively Muslim and Christian. There
is no reference to Jewish holy places
as such. Rather, they are presented
as Muslim holy places that the Jews have
attempted to Judaize, such as the "Tomb
of the Patriarchs" in Hebron,
Wall" a.k.a. "the Wailing Wall", in
Jerusalem, and "Rachel's Tomb" in Bethlehem.
There are a series of references
to the liberation of Palestine, presented
as a struggle against Israeli occupation.
At times, the liberation from Israeli occupation
points to the territories of the West Bank
and the Gaza Strip occupied by Israel in 1967.
Sometimes this expression refers to the
territory of the State of Israel, within
its 1949 borders. There is an explicit reference
to the Israeli occupation of 1948 and another
to the need to establish an independent
Palestinian state on the entire national
The struggle for the liberation
of Palestine is presented mainly as a military
one. There is no direct support of terror
in the textbooks, but the Feda'i and the
Shahid are praised as the spearheads of
this struggle. Palestinians hanged by British
Mandate authorities for murders of Jewish
civilians are presented as Shahids. Those
arrested and jailed in Israeli jails for
acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians
are depicted as "prisoners of war". Jihad
continues to be glorified and martyrdom
is praised, with special attention given
to the martyrs of Palestine.
There is no attempt to encourage reconciliation with Israel. Israel is presented exclusively as
inhumane and greedy. It has destroyed the Palestinian villages, driven them away, seized
their lands and water, inflicted on them pain and loss, taken over their holy places. Israel is
responsible for the obliteration of Palestinian Arab national identity, the crippling of
Palestinian economy, and for social and ecological ills.
Israel is accused of being
responsible for the creation of the Palestinian
refugee problem, with no consideration
being given to the consequences of the Arab
and Palestinian rejection of the 1947
UN Partition Plan. The solution to this
problem presented in PNA textbooks is "the
return of every refugee" to his former home,
i.e. to the territory of the State of Israel
within its 1949 borders.
Although bilateral treaties
and accords have determined the allocation
of land and water between Israel and the
Palestinians by mutual agreement, (The Israeli-Palestinian
Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip, 1995, Article XI and Appendix
I article 40,and the Israel-Jordan
Peace Treaty 1994, Annex
II.). Israel is accused of robbing the
lands and waters from the Palestinians.
Reference to the Jews
is minimal. Although their historical
connections to Palestine are mentioned,
these references do not provide the pupils
with at least a basic knowledge of Jews
as one of the three monotheistic religions.
Several of these references, however, contain
negative generalizations attributing traits
of trickery, greed and barbarity to the
Jews, and insinuation that they do not keep
agreements and treaties as Muslims do. Accusations
of racial discrimination that were leveled
against Israel in a textbook published in
1995 have since been removed (in 1996 and
Inaccuracies in determining and presenting historical facts appear in several instances, particularly
in the textbooks of Grade 7. For example, statements such as: "[Israeli] attempts at obliterating the
artistic [Palestinian] heritage: …Setting fire to the antique pulpit of Saladin in the al-Aqsa Mosque."
(National Education, Grade 7, p. 55). "The Arab Jebusites built it [Jerusalem] five thousand years
ago in that distinguished place and it has remained since that time a capital of Palestine during the
ages." (Geography of Palestine, Grade 7, p. 77) are to be found in the textbooks, as well as the
falsification of a stamp issued by the British Mandatory Government.
The Palestinian textbooks
use terminology that is associated with
war and violence and is likely to create
prejudice,misunderstanding and conflict,
such as: "The demographic weapon" will play
"a positive role in winning the Arab-Israeli
conflict" (The Palestinian Society-Demographic
Education, Grade 11 (2000), p. 29), and
:"The coming of the Jewish throngs to Palestine
continued until 1948 and their goal was
taking over the Palestinian lands and then
taking the original inhabitants' place after
their expulsion or extermination."
(National Education, Grade 7, p. 20)
The tendency towards educating pupils to reject and delegitimize Israel that was prevalent in the
PNA textbooks of 2000-2001 has not been addressed in the new textbooks. Instead, it appears to
have gained impetus through instilling animosity and the implicit aspiration to replace the State of
Israel with the State of Palestine.
for Monitoring the Impact on Peace (CMIP)