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General Articles
The Myth of Incitement in Palestinian Textbooks


The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education
Response to Allegation against Palestinian Schoolbooks
8 June 2005

"...Ruth Firer and Sami Adwan, an Israeli and a Palestinian scholar, who conducted research comparing Palestinian and Israeli textbooks, March 2002, wrote that the Israeli books "strongly emphasizing the collective values connected to the history of the Jewish nation in 'their land' and God's promises to the Jews that give them an absolute right on the land. The land of Eretz Israel described in the books includes the territories of the PNA from 1967."
A study by Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel-Aviv University reviewed 124 Hebrew language books approved for use in 1994 by the Ministry of Education. The study concludes that "the majority of [Israeli school] books stereotype Arabs negatively." In one children’s book, Bar-Tal offers this sampling, "We were lonely… pioneers surrounded by a sea of enemies and murderers." In elementary school books, according to Bar-Tal, Arabs are often
stereotyped negatively and portrayed as "uneducated people and enemies." In a report titled "Israeli Textbooks and Children’s Literature Promote Racism and Hatred toward Palestinians and Arabs," journalist Maureen Meehan concluded that "Israeli school textbooks as well as children’s storybooks, portray Palestinians and Arabs as 'murderers,' 'rioters,' 'suspicious', and generally backward and unproductive. Direct
delegitimization and negative stereotyping of Palestinians and Arabs are the rule rather than the exception in Israeli schoolbooks." (Washington Report for Middle East Affairs September 1999)
In a study presented at the hearing of the political committee of the European Parliament, 24 October 2003, titled "The attitude towards Palestinians in Israeli textbooks," Dr. Nurit Elhanan, of the Hebrew University, revealed that "the Palestinians are absent from all textbooks, The Occupation is never mentioned, and the area where Palestinians live is presented in the maps either as an empty space referred to as 'an area without data' (Man and Space maps) or it is incorporated into the state of Israel (The Geography of the land of Israel maps). In both cases use of the term 'occupation' is out of the question, since you cannot occupy illegally what is yours anyway and you cannot occupy illegally an empty space."
Dr. Elhanan added: "When reference is made to date in the West Bank it is only to Jewish colonies or to main cities like Nablus, Hebron or Beth Lehem as Israeli tourist sites…In Israel today there is already a second generation of children who don’t know there are occupation, illegal domination and illegal settlements."
A report by an Israeli research institution, The New Profile, entitled Child Recruitment in Israel, 29 July 2004, by: Amir Givol, Neta Rotem, Sergeiy Sandler, (worth quoting at length here) reveals the extent of the militarization of the Israeli education system. It states:
"To begin with, militarised education naturally feeds on the militarism prevalent in society at large. In a country where various kinds of weaponry are permanently displayed in public places and the status of the military is used to promote anything from cheese to political candidates, militarised education comes natural. One absorbs militarism at home and on the street. The military is physically present in schools and school activities. Soldiers in uniform are stationed in schools, many of them are actually teaching classes. Other teachers, and especially principals, are recently retired career officers, without proper teacher training. High schools normally have a display on one of the walls in the school building with the names and photographs of “the fallen” among their graduates. School field trips, at all ages, are often made to military memorials set up on former battlegrounds.
"Official curricula and textbooks also reflect the militaristic attitudes inherent in the Israeli educational system, all the way from kindergarten to the last years of high school, where there is a mandatory programme for all Jewish state-run schools called “preparation for the IDF,” that in most cases includes actual military training. Whole curricular subjects are often described to the pupils, and in official documents, as having the aim of preparing pupils, or some of them, to military service. Glorifications of the military and military conquest, and negative or skewed representation of Palestinians, are to be found in many Israeli textbooks."

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