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Palestinian Textbooks: Incitement, Anti-Semitism & Hatred of Israel in Palestinian School Textbooks

(November 2001)

Main Points:

  • The textbooks used in the Palestinian Authority school system, from elementary through high school, are replete with strong expressions of hatred towards Israel, negation of its right to exist and praise for the struggle against it, as well as antisemitic expressions against the Jews.

  • In these textbooks, Israel is described as "a country of gangs, born in crime." The Jews are arrogant and sly traitors, and Zionism is a racist movement and a "germ."

  • From this point of view, the Oslo Accords are described as "a move to get the Palestine Liberation Army into the territories," and support for jihad is emphasized.

  • Thus, Palestinian youth are educated from birth in an atmosphere of religious and nationalist incitement, with no trace of anything positive regarding Israel, which results in a deepening of their hatred towards Israel, a fanning of the flames of violence and encouragement and justification of terrorism against the State of Israel and against Jews.


1. In the eight years that have elapsed since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian educational system has been using Jordanian and Egyptian textbooks. It is only in the past academic year that the Palestinian Ministry of Education has added textbooks to the curriculum that were specially written for the 1st and 6th grades and this year, according to reports, for the 2nd and 7th grades as well.

2. The Jordanian textbooks, intended for all students in high schools and most of the classes in the elementary schools, abound in expressions of incitement and hatred that were reintroduced when the educational system was transferred from Israeli to Palestinian responsibility. These books are indicative of the "war to the death" mentality against Israel and Zionism and everything that they represent.

3. Following are some examples of incitement, hatred towards Israel and antisemitism, according to subject:

  1. The Jewish people - the textbooks are replete with antisemitic expressions of hatred and hostility towards the Jewish people, including references from the Koran attesting to the corrupt, dishonest character of the Jews, who are also anti-Islam. They claim that, according to the Talmud, the Jews believe that the human animal was created to serve them and that it is permitted to deceive the gentiles, who have satanic souls.
  2. Jerusalem - Israelis covet Jerusalem above all else. They burned the Al Aksa mosque in 1969 as part of the Zionist plan to take control of Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount) and to destroy the Muslim buildings there, in order to build their Temple. It is incumbent on the Arab army to liberate the mosques from the thieving conqueror.
  3. Zionism - Zionism is a threat to the Arabs, and all Arabs are obligated to fight it; the Zionist germ must be expunged from the Arab nation. Teachers’ guides for the 10th and 12th grades explain that Zionism is a racist movement that aspires to Judaize Palestine by expelling its Arab residents. Furthermore, Zionist ideology is more racist, extremist and aggressive than other ideologies (of the 20th century) and established a Jewish political entity in Palestine that threatens the security of the Arab homeland.
  4. Jihad - already in the 2nd grade, Palestinian pupils learn that Jordanian young men are eager to sacrifice their lives for the jihad, to defend the Arab character of Palestine. Another textbook states that the Arabs and the Muslims will fight the Jews who evicted them from their homes. In the 8th grade, the students learn that the usurpers have crossed all boundaries and therefore the time has come for jihad, to unsheathe the sharp sword.

    The Iz a-Din al-Kassam receives much praise in descriptions of Palestinian bravery, and the battle of Karama is described as resulting from the Zionist lust for expansion. Stone-throwers are also glorified in these books.

  5. Israel - The name "Israel" does not appear on the maps, and Jewish cities are not mentioned. Tel Aviv is called "Jaffa." In the 5th grade, discussion is devoted to the question: Why must we fight the Jews and expel them from our land? In the 7th grade, the children learn that 1948 was the year of "the Great Crime," when "the gang state" was established by seizing control of cities and villages and mistreating the residents.
  6. The "Right of Return" - Eighth-graders are taught a song about Jaffa, promising to return from the diaspora and the prisons. An 8th grade history textbook explains that Israel’s close ties with imperialism made its establishment possible.

4. Although there is a certain moderation of the militant terminology in the textbooks edited by the PA, they contain no recognition of Israel. Expressions of an Anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish character are still to be found in them, although in an ambiguous and insinuated way.

5. Some of the negative elements found in the textbooks are described below:

  1. No recognition of Israel - Israel is not mentioned as a state, but rather in the context of issues such as the settlements and use of natural resources, or wars and investigations. The borders of the state are not delineated and its name does not appear on maps, which bear the name "Palestine". Some maps contain the names of cities that existed before the establishment of the state; others show Jewish settlements only in the territories, but do not reflect the true situation there.
  2. The Palestinian ambition to rule over all of the Land of Israel - A photograph of the city of Jaffa identifies it as a Palestinian city, and a picture of the Al-Jazzar mosque in Akko bears the caption: "Palestine is Our Land." Students are expected to aspire to the unification of Palestine and to understand that the Palestinians, descendants of the Canaanites, have first rights to the land.
  3. The struggle against Israel - the "Right Of Return" - The textbooks state that the refugee camps are temporary quarters, until the residents return to the places that they were forced to abandon. One book contains a song praising Iz a-Din al-Kassam as the heroic figure of the struggle. Jihad is taught as a value for the citizen who desires to defend his homeland. Using any and all available means is presented as a religious imperative, and anyone killed in the course of defending his homeland becomes a "shaheed" (martyr) - all this is included in a textbook for the 6th grade.
  4. The Oslo Accords - The accords are described as a move that enabled the Palestinian liberation army to entrench itself in the territories. Principles such as normalization and coexistence are, of course, not even mentioned.

6. In the eight years since the signing of the Oslo Accords, another generation of pupils has been educated to believe that the establishment of the State of Israel was "the Big Crime" and that the Palestinians, together with the Arab and Muslim states, must fight it to "the death."

7. The pace at which the PA is working to change the content of the textbooks is slow and does not reveal much enthusiasm, to say the least, towards fulfilling the explicit Palestinian commitment "to educate pupils in the spirit of the peace agreement." That the PA is dealing with this subject unwillingly, under Israeli and international pressure, is obvious from the meagerness of the results.


I. Name of book:
Al-Mutalaa Wa-Al-Nussous Al-Adabia, for the 8th grade

Page 117:

  • Everything previously written leads to the conclusion that Zionism constitutes a threat to all Arabs and must be fought by each and every Arab.
  • Zionism is poised to take over the rest of Jerusalem and its holy sites and, thereafter, to continue, step by step, to complete its control of Palestine. In the third stage, it will invade Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the rest of the Arab states. This will happen unless the Arabs take serious steps to exterminate the Zionist germ and thrust this evil out of the Arab homeland. If the Arabs ignore the danger that threatens them with destruction and avoid taking the necessary action, they will share the same fate as that of their Palestinian brothers.

II. Name of book:
Al-Mutalaa Wa-Al-Nussous Al-Adabia for the 8th grade

Page 120:

  • My brother, the oppressor has crossed the line and the time has come for jihad and martyrdom.

III. Name of book:
Lughatuna Al-Arabia, for the 7th grade

Part 2, page 17:

  • The year 1948 is known as the year of the "Great Crime", when the "gang state" was established by means of invasion and conquest of towns and villages and abuse of their residents. Examples of this are the Dir Yassin massacre, the Kibya massacre, the Kafr Kassem massacre and others.

IV. Name of book:
Altarbia Alwanya, for the 6th grade

  • Page 15:

    a. Photo: The jihad-fighter, Iz a-Din al-Kassam

    b. A map of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.

  • Page 8:

    Map entitled "Geography of Palestine" (no marked borders; showing cities in the West Bank and Gaza and cities in Israel such as Jaffa, Haifa, Akko and Nazareth, as in one unit).

Document prepared by a team from the Office of the Advisor for Palestinian Affairs, the Civilian Administration in Judea and Samaria.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry