Wednesday, April 13, 2011

13-Apr-11: Ready for statehood? [Part 2]

More on the momentum that's building internationally and at the UN for a Palestinian Arab state.

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE), which annually reviews textbooks from Israel, the Arab world and Iran, unveiled its 2011 report on PA school textbooks in a briefing yesterday. Summarizing Jpost's report:
  • Generally the Palestinian schoolbooks teach a total denial of the existence of Israel. Where an Israeli presence is mentioned, it is generally very negative.
  • There is zero education about or towards co-operation and co-existence between Israelis and Arabs.
  • The books blame Israel for all of the PA's environmental problems.
  • In geography textbooks, maps of the Middle East generally omit Israel.
  • “Palestine” is shown to encompass Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. 
  • The city of Jaffa is shown on maps of Palestine. But the cities of Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan, as well as the many Israeli kibbutzim and moshavim (communal settlements the length and breadth of the country) are not displayed - they are wiped from the map.
  • A book entitled History of Ancient Civilization, published in 2009 for fifth-graders, says the countries in the area are Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Israel is not mentioned.
  • A map of the Old City of Jerusalem omits the Jewish Quarter. 
  • A postage stamp from the British Mandate period has the Hebrew text erased. The omitted Hebrew words are “Palestine: The Land of Israel”. See the pictures below.
  • Some textbooks described the Canaanites as an Arabic-speaking people whose land was stolen by Jews.
  • Some textbooks say the Jews came from Europe to steal Palestine after the British conquered it in 1917.
  • The books erasing Jewish claims to such holy sites as the Western Wall and Rachel’s Tomb. For example, National Education, a textbook for seventh-graders published in 2010, refers to the Western Wall as the “Al-Buraq Wall,” and to Rachel’s Tomb as “Al-Bilal Mosque.”
  • Many of these officially sanctioned Palestinian textbooks include multiple references to martyrdom, death, jihad and refugees returning to cities and towns in Israel.
  • They frequently demonize Israelis and Jews. 
  • Though there are some positive developments in the Palestinian educational system- mention of democratic values and respect for women, elders and authority – no Israeli is depicted as a friend or partner. 
  • The Oslo Accords are rarely mentioned.
  • Political agreements in general are presented as resulting from Arab and Muslim weakness.
  • 118 textbooks currently used in Palestinian schools were analyzed, along with 22 teacher guides distributed by the PA Ministry of Education and Higher Education. These are used not only in the PA-controlled area but also in the Hamas regime's Gaza Strip.
To the surprise of no one, the report reminds us that the bulk of funding for these problematic textbooks comes from the EU. Some comes from the US.

Photograph of cover of an official PA school text
book (personally photographed by this blog's writers).
Note the Palestine postage stamp in bottom right corner.

Same book cover - Palestine postage stamp enlarged. It was
issued in the 1940s by the British mandatory authority.
Note the Arabic text on right, and blank space (at the bottom) to its left.

The stamps of Palestine, during the Mandate period (1917 to 1948)
always included Hebrew text, as seen at bottom left. The Hebrew writing
says "Palestina" followed by the letters Aleph Yud which stand
for "Eretz Yisrael", meaning the Land of Israel.
Are the Palestinian Arabs ready for an internationally recognized state? It would be nice to think so - for them and for us. It would be nicer still if they gave a sign of understanding that living with us as neighbours requires educating their own children for peace and for neighbourly relations.

The ongoing scandal of official Palestinian textbooks reminds us there's no sign that that process has begun. 

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