Jews, Israel and Peace in Palestinian Textbooks
by Dr. Arnon Groiss
The executive summary of CMIP's analysis of 35 books
in various subjects published by the Palestinian Authority
- Judaism is presented as a
monotheistic religion to which, by implication at least, Palestine
is holy. Although this is something that was absent from the books
published previously, the Jewish holy places in the country as such
are still completely ignored.
- The Jews are mentioned several times, mostly unfavorably, in historical
contexts. When they are mentioned in the context of the present
conflict, they are demonized as "Tartars", oppressors, slaughterers
and as people who do not hesitate to shoot peaceful travelers on
the road. No attempt is made to present them as human beings with
rights and interests, national and other, of their own and the Jew
as an individual is never discussed. The historical, national and
religious connection of the Jewish people with Palestine is never
mentioned. On the other hand, the mention of their "trickery", to
be found in an earlier textbook, is omitted in a newer book when
it refers to the same episode.
- The tendency to ignore Israel as a sovereign state continues. Accordingly, Israel's name does
not appear on any map. Moreover, some of the maps refer to the whole
country as Palestine and Israeli cities and geographical sites are
presented as Palestinian., The Palestinian Authority, however, unlike
Israel, is referred to as an independent state.
- Jerusalem is presented
as an exclusively Arab city and as the capital of the State of Palestine.
The Jews' presence there and their historical religious and national
connections with it are not mentioned, except for a brief reference
to its being holy to "the three monotheistic religions". Jerusalem
is also personified as a suffering Arab entity.
- There is a systematic effort in the textbooks to demonize Israel
and the Israelis. The establishment
of the State of Israel caused a catastrophe; Israel is an aggressive
state; Israelis shoot civilians, demolish houses, "kill" cities
and villages by expulsion and destruction, seize Palestinian land
for the establishment of Jewish settlements and cause economic distress
and environmental pollution and even bring about family violence
among the Palestinians. A major theme is the Israeli occupation,
but there are passages that in this context clearly refer to parts
of Israel within the pre-1967
borders and not just to the West
Bank and Gaza.
- The blame for the refugee
problem is placed exclusively on Israel. The only solution to
the problem envisaged in the textbooks is the return of all the
refugees to their former homes.
- Tolerance is advocated towards followers of other religions, but,
as in the earlier books published by the PNA, when it comes to a
more detailed discussion, only relations between Muslims and Christians are addressed.
- Peace, which is discussed in general terms, is a new phenomenon
in Palestinian textbooks. Peace with Israel, the peace
process and the Oslo
Agreements on which it is based, however, are still not discussed.
- The liberation of Palestine, on the other hand, is mentioned on
three occasions, two of which refer by implication to the territory
of Israel within the pre-1967 borders.
- Jihad and martyrdom
are prominent subjects in the textbooks. Both are praised and encouraged.
Jihad's main purpose is making the Muslim nation strong and dreaded
by its enemies. In one place martyrdom is portrayed as a wedding
- Terror is formally
rejected, which too is a new phenomenon, but such rejection basically
turns on a question of definition and there are expressions indicating
a positive attitude to members of the Palestinian armed organizations
("Fida'is") who also target civilians. Those of them who are jailed
by Israel are called "prisoners-of-war".
It is worth noting that the PNA have now produced their
own books, in place of the Jordanian and Egyptian books previously in
use, for 50% of the school grades. The Palestinian school textbooks
in the third round of their publication still do not comply with the
criteria set by UNESCO. Although some new positive nuances are to be
found in them, they do not contain a real commitment to peace and reconciliation
- Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace