Thursday, July 14, 2011

14-Jul-11: How not to overturn the hatred that underpins terrorism

Palestinian Arab schoolboys: Feed them a steady
diet of hatred and contempt for the 'other' and there
is no room for doubt about the outcome
The State Dept. has an official envoy on anti-semitism and she has some comments about how well her work achieves its goals in the Arab Middle East.

Her name is Hannah Rosenthal, and in an article syndicated by JTA yesterday, she says what happened when she visited Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia last month on a mission to persuade officials to remove from their textbooks intolerance aimed at non-Muslims and to introduce positive references to Judaism.
The most common response, she said, was avoidance and of a hoary variety: Talk about Jews almost inevitably led to grievances about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. “As soon as a conversation about religious tolerance becomes tense, they shut it down or they go to Israel-Palestine.” 
Is it all awful? No, there are 'bright' spots.
Rosenthal’s signature achievement on the trip was extracting from Saudi officials a pledge to remove anti-Semitic references from curricula, including some apparently rooted in the notorious forgery positing Jewish world domination, the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." “I got commitments from the ministries of education and culture that they were ready to work with us,” she said. “I am taking all of this at face value.” A Saudi Embassy spokesman in Washington did not return a request for comment. Rosenthal said a typical initial response in Saudi Arabia was for officials to challenge her to produce evidence of intolerance. When she did – for instance, a passage describing Jews as the spawn of “monkeys and pigs” -- she was told the book was outdated and no longer in use. 
And if you (or she) are looking for some good news when it comes to the education of Palestinian Arab children, then better look elsewhere.
Rosenthal also confronted officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the body that cares for millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, about their failure to teach U.N.-created Holocaust materials. A high-ranking official with UNRWA told JTA that the agency is bound by agreements with host countries to use local textbooks. Additionally, in some areas -- notably the Gaza Strip -- UNRWA officials have faced threats from Islamist groups for reports of plans to introduce Holocaust and tolerance teaching into the curriculum. In Lebanon, Rosenthal sought out organizations that seek to promote tolerance among the “Abrahamic faiths” only to find that Judaism was not included. “It turned out ‘Abrahamic’ meant Islam and Christianity,” she said.
When you next hear political analysts pontificating about what they like to call terrorism's root causes (which invariably presents Israel's wrongs as the rootest of the causes), think of the grotesque distortion that passes for education among the millions of hope-deprived children being raised today in Palestinian Arab society. And know that there's absolutely no reason to be hopeful that something is changing for the better.

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