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Palestinian school books reject peace

Maandag, Juli 11, 2005

Arutz Sheva, July 11, 2005.

A report on the textbooks published by the Palestinian Authority was released
Monday, exposing the teaching of Islamic supremacy, the illegitimacy of Israel
and citing an infamous forgery as fact.

The report was published by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of
Peace (CMIP), a non-governmental organization whose stated purpose is to
“encourage a climate of tolerance and mutual respect between peoples and
nations, founded on the rejection of violence and the changing of negative
stereotypes, as a means to resolving conflicts.”

CMIP’s director of research, Arnon Groiss, spoke with Israel National Radio’s
Yishai & Malkah Fleisher. Groiss, who compiled and translated the material from
the PA school books, said the findings left little room for optimism.

“[The school books] follow the same line of non-recognition of Israel as a
sovereign state, non-recognition of the Jewish people as having rights in the
country and non-recognition of anything that belongs to Jews – including holy
places – nothing. Holy places are all Muslim, whether they say they are ‘used by
Jews’ or ‘Jews claim’ such places are holy,” Groiss said.

The assertion that the “occupation” began in 1948 is another central aspect of
the school books that Groiss finds particularly alarming. “Haifa and the Sea of
Galilee and the Negev are all Palestinian. They never say ‘Israeli territory’ – it is
only the ‘lands of 1948,'” Groiss said.

“They are not so explicit in the books because they know they will be
scrutinized. They are much more subtle than Syrian, Saudi Arabian and
Egyptian text books,” he said. “But the struggle for liberation will not end at the
borders of 1967, this [message] is very clear. They do not say it explicitly, but
the hint is very well understood, I believe, and the teacher is there to explain if
necessary.”

The seasoned translator and research director says that the inclusion of the
Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a historical document is a disturbing feature
of one of the 10th grade history text books. “For the first time in the history of
text-book publishing in the Palestinian Authority (PA), they claim the Protocols
of Zion as a valid document, saying it was a resolution of the first Zionist
Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897.”

Groiss read from a 10th grade PA textbook: “There is a group of confidential
resolutions adopted by the Congress and known by the name ‘The Protocols of
the Elders of Zion’, the goal of which is world domination. They were brought
to light by Sergey Nilos and translated into Arabic by Muhammad Khalifa
Al-Tunisi.”

In fact, Nilos, a Russian priest, authored the “Protocols” at the behest of the
Czarist secret police.

“Our reports are made up of quotations taken directly from the books
as-is,” Groiss said, reading a passage (“The martyrs rank is above all ranks”)
from a fifth-grade grammar book. “Analysis is presented at the conclusion of
the report.”

Some of the report’s conclusions include:

* “The city of Jerusalem is portrayed as exclusively Arab. Nothing is said about
the strong connection of the Jews to the city historically and at present, both
religiously and nationally. The fact that the Jews constitute the absolute
majority in the city today, and have done so for some 120 years, and that it
serves as Israel’s capital are ignored. Jewish holy places there are not
mentioned as such. Rather, it is said that Jerusalem is facing Israeli attempts at
Judaization.”

* “Islam and the Muslims are portrayed as superior to all other religions and
their respective followers. For example, the Qur’an alone is safeguarded by God
against loss and distortion, unlike sacred books of other religions, and Jews and
Christians – unlike Muslims – are not part of ‘Abraham’s nation’.”

* “The Jews are hardly mentioned in historical contexts either in antiquity or in
modern times (except in a special section on Zionism). Their strong historical
ties to Palestine are virtually ignored – even in Christian Education textbooks
that speak of Old and New Testament events. At the same time, the
Canaanites, and all other ancient nations in the region, are presented as Arab
nations, the forebears of the Arabs, including the Palestinians, of today.”

* “Israel is not recognized as a sovereign state. Its name does not appear on
any of the maps where, in some cases, the name “Palestine” appears
instead…”

* “Israel’s image is wholly negative: It has been an occupying entity since 1948
[emphasis added], exclusively responsible for the Palestinian Catastrophe of
that year and the source of violence.”

* “Peace with Israel is never mentioned, let alone encouraged. Indeed there is
at least one text that holds out the hope of final victory and the disappearance
of the Israelis as such from the region. The Oslo Accord of 1993 is now
presented as part of the violent struggle against Israel and inserted between the
two Intifadas of 1987 and 2000.”

* “Positive references to ‘martyrs’ and ‘prisoners-of-war’ within the context of
the struggle against Israel.”

CMIP did find a few “minute changes for the better,” Groiss said. They include:

* “There is one sentence in which the phrase ‘the State of Israel’ appears
within quotation marks. Israel’s pre-1967 territory is never mentioned as such
and phrases like “the 1948 areas” are used instead. There are cases in which
Palestine replaces Israel as the sovereign state in the region. Regions, sites and
cities within pre-1967 Israel are described as Palestinian and once or twice the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip are implicitly described as part of a larger
Palestine. On the other hand, there is a sole reference to Israel as a sovereign
state in an official document issued by Christian religious leaders, which is
quoted in a Christian Education textbook.”

* “One piece of literature presents a dead enemy soldier as a human being.”

Groiss hopes that the publication of the report can lead to improvements in the
PA educational system through external pressure to make reforms in the school
books.

“I believe there are three main elements that should be inserted in books,”
Groiss said. “First: some sort of recognition of the other party in the conflict –
interests, rights, something – at least something. Second: stopping the process
of stereotyping the other and giving some objective and valid information about
the individual Jew or Israel for example. Third: trying to advocate for peace
based on real reconciliation with the other.”

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