Israel and [the Palestinians] will ensure that their respective
educational systems contribute to the peace between the Israeli and Palestinian
peoples and to peace in the entire region, and will refrain from the
introduction of any motifs that could adversely affect the process of
reconciliation. -Interim Agreement,Chapter 4, Article XXII, Par. 2 (1995)
In Israeli schools, peace education was introduced by the government after
the 1993 Oslo Agreements to promote understanding of the nation's efforts to
achieve peace. More generally, throughout the system children are taught from
books that encourage acceptance and respect for Arabs. Prejudice is deplored in
stories and anecdotes. Arab traditions are presented as admirable and Arab
people as good human beings with feelings like those of Jews. Hearts, flowers
and doves decorate books about getting along with Arab neighbors.
Understandably, journalists would not be expected to report such ordinary
informationunless it stood in dramatic contrast to the educational
endeavors of Israel's peace partners. And so it does. Yet the media have
ignored the Israeli publications which promote humane images of Arabs, and, far
more importantly, have turned a blind eye to the systematic incitement to
hatred of Jews and Israel sponsored by the Palestinian Authority in PA schools.
That Israel is in compliance with its Oslo commitments on this matter while the
Palestinians are flagrantly violating theirs is equally unremarked by the
What do the Palestinian schools teach? Ninth-graders study from official
textbooks that assert, "treachery and disloyalty are character traits of
the Jews and therefore one should beware of them." Jews are cast as
Satanic, violent and cunning, as "thieving conquerors" who have
stolen Arab land and must be fought and defeated.
Jihad and martyrdom are glorified as the means to liberating
"Palestine" and children's poems contain calls to war and
bloodletting. Fifth graders memorize such lines as, "I shall take my soul
in my hand and hurl it into the abyss of death." The same verses are
recited by children on official Palestinian television. Sixth-graders read of a
young boy growing up with "the love of Jihad flowing through his veins and
filling every fiber of his being." "Joy" comes only at "the
sight of the enemy lying dead" or "fleeing for their lives."
"Palestine" replaces Israel on all maps in PA textbooks, and
Israeli towns and cities are designated Palestinian locales. Jews are cast as
enemies of Islam and European colonizers. An eighth-grade literary text denies
Jewish connection to the Western Wall and children are taught to identify
Muslim and Christian holy sites, while Jewish ones are omitted.
Bogus history teaches that Arabs lived in "Palestine" before the
Jews. Thus, students learn Palestinian Arabs are descendants of Canaanites and
Jerusalem is an ancient Arab city built before Islam. Jews are cast as an
illegitimate, foreign, evil presence in the land of Palestine.
The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, an independent
non-governmental group, reviewed Palestinian textbooks and distributed these
disturbing findings to Members of Congress and the media. The Wye River
agreements created a Trilateral Committee on Incitement that includes
discussion of the textbook issue.
And the media coverage of these alarming abuses? The New York Times
has provided its readers just two sentences directly on the subject, in an
October 25, 1998 article that otherwise wrongly suggested an equal culpability
by Israelis and Palestinians for not having "alter[ed] the sense they had
of each other" after the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Ironically, Times correspondent Joel Greenberg has actually reported
repeatedly on the PA's education system. In early 1994, not long after the
signing of the Oslo Accords, he wrote a lengthy, enthusiastic article entitled
"Building Peace in Palestinian Schools." He said that a "team of
Palestinian experts" was working on a "school curriculum, based on
principles of pluralism, tolerance and `value-free' instruction."
The reporter described how the new curriculum would encourage "respect
for human rights." The Palestinians did see stumbling blocks ahead,
however. Greenberg quoted a Palestinian educator who explained there could be
difficulties with "the image of the Jew."
In June 1997, the same Times reporter returned to the subject. In a
story entitled "Palestinian Maps For A Nation That Doesn't Exist,"
Greenberg quoted a Palestinian saying, "We are free as educators not to
lie to our kids and not to distort history." The reporter then noted that
Palestinian children are taught they are descendants of Canaanites in a land
devoid ofJewish history, but gave no hint to readers that this is itself, of
course, a "lie" and fuels Palestinian enmity against Jews as
intruders in a land to which they allegedly have no attachment.
Greenberg also reports without comment the following excuse for the
Palestinians' teaching the Canaanite invention and omitting Jewish history:
"Mr. Yassin [director of the textbooks and publications department in the
Palestinian Ministry of Education] suggested that the selective accounts were
meant to avoid antagonizing Palestinians whose sensitivities might be inflamed
by references to Jewish historical and religious links to their country."
Despite his energetic attention to developments in Palestinian schools when
the PA first took control of the system from Israel, Greenberg has not been
heard from on the subject since the pattern of fierce anti-Jewish and
anti-Israel themes in the textbooks was exposed.
The New York Times was not alone in its evasions and silence on this
story. National Public Radio's Jennifer Ludden, talking about the introduction
of the Palestinian's own textbooks into PA schools, sounded this cheery note:
"As this generation learns openly of its past, a brighter future seems
under construction everywhere" (October 14, 1998). Although NPR was
provided information on the PA textbook contents, there has been no coverage of
The Los Angeles Times' Marjorie Miller wrote, in "The ABC's of
Palestinian Nationalism" (April 13, 1997), that Palestinians have
difficulty teaching positively about a peace effort that has not satisfied all
their "demands." Although Miller included examples of skewed
historical accounts, like Joel Greenberg, she gave no indication the
information is bogus and intended to deny Jewish ties to Israel. Indeed, her
only observation on describing a group of fourth graders chanting about
freeingJerusalem from the Jews, was that Netanyahu should "peek into"
the Palestinians' "public schools and new textbooks" to disabuse
himself of any "expectations that the Palestinians will become more
flexible" about Jerusalem and statehood!
Although the Washington Post's Lee Hockstader is familiar with the
textbook question, when asked by CAMERA why he had failed to report on the
story, he responded that Israeli information is sometimes unreliable.
The indolence of the media, especially influential outlets such as the
New York Times, in failing to report this story can only delay the day
when Palestinian schools eliminate the calls to violence and destruction of the