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Hebrew University
In the Service of the PLO - Nurit Peled Elhanans One-Sided Version of Reality: Blame Israel Only


Editorial Note

Previous postings on Nurit Peled Elhanan (HUJ) indicated that this radical activist has never believed in separation between political agenda and scholarship.   Her book on textbooks, based on dubious methodology and specious arguments “proves” that Israeli textbooks are violently biased toward Arabs and Palestinians. 

This time around she takes on the issue of incitement - first dealt with by the Tripartite Committee on Incitement created in 1998 to facilitate the peace process.  Though the level of incitement by the Palestinians has grown since then, Peled Elhanan gives them a good grade.  Indeed, she calls Palestinian incitement a “myth” created by the Israel as a “diversionary tactic.”  

Peled Elhanan writes that “a February 2013, a comprehensive report on textbooks in Israel and Palestine entitled “Victims of Our Own Narratives? Portrayal of the ‘Other’ in Israeli and Palestinian School Books", sponsored by the US State Department and independently examined at Yale University, the study looked at 94 Palestinian textbooks and 74 Israeli textbooks published between 2009 and 2011.  The results of the study formally exposed the Israeli accusation of one-sided extensive Palestinian incitement myth.“ 

This is a highly misleading statement. No one, of course, expects Peled Elhanan to provide accurate details as she has served as an effective spokesperson for the PLO for decades. The PLO press release below proves this point.  The only problem is that it is the Israeli taxpayer who pays her salary.


State of Palestine

Palestine Liberation Organization





“the action of provoking unlawful behavior or urging someone to behave unlawfully.”








In January 2014, Israeli ambassadors of Rome, London, Madrid and Paris were summoned, as a

result of Israel’s then latest announcement of 1400 new settlement units. Unable to justify settlement

construction, which is a violation of international law, Israeli PM Netanyahu responded as follows:

“The European Union is acting hypocritically…When did the EU call the Palestinian

ambassador to complain about incitement?”

The accusation of incitement is a form of propaganda, which Israeli officials use in order to divert

attention from Israel’s illegal behavior and from the core issues of the negotiations process, as

illustrated by the above example.


Established in 1998, the Tripartite Committee on Incitement, a Palestinian-Israeli-American initiative,

is the agreed forum for the parties to raise and solve issues of incitement from all sides. Palestinian

officials have repeatedly called upon Israel to resume this committee.

On January 20th 2014, the PLO issued its most recent statement calling on Mr. Netanyahu to resume

the committee. “Despite our firm belief that these allegations of Palestinian incitement are nothing

more than diversionary tactics, we hereby call upon the Government of Israel to accept our standing

offer to resume the work of the Tripartite Committee on Incitement.”


In February 2013, a comprehensive report on textbooks in Israel and Palestine was published,

entitled “Victims of Our Own Narratives? Portrayal of the ‘Other’ in Israeli and Palestinian School

Books"(1). Sponsored by the US State Department and independently examined at Yale University, the

study looked at 94 Palestinian textbooks(2) and 74 Israeli textbooks(3) published between 2009 and

2011.The results of the study formally exposed the Israeli accusation of one-sided extensive

Palestinian incitement as a myth.


Where incitement or misleading narratives were found, they were found on both sides. As a result the

report recommended: “that the Israeli and Palestinian Ministries of Education each establish a

committee of Ministry staff and community experts to review current and future books in light of the


(1) Victims of Our Own Narratives? Portrayal of the ‘Other’ in Israeli and Palestinian School Books

(2) Palestinian Authority, UNRWA and religious bodies.

(3) State secular and State religious schools in addition to some schools for ultra-Orthodox students



study findings and prepare a plan of action based upon the review. Additional steps will be necessary

to facilitate similar processes regarding the books of the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox communities.”

The then Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, welcomed the study and instructed the Ministry

of Education to follow up on its recommendations. The Palestinian Ministry of Education cooperated

fully with the study citing its “firm conviction of the significance of the issue and the need to discuss

it on objective and professional bases, rather than preconceived notions and stereotypes."(4)

Israel’s Ministry of Education boycotted the report. During the press conference at which the study

was released, Professor Wexler, who led the independent examining team at Yale University, referred

to the ministry’s statement as “false at every level”. He added that: "The Israeli government would

rather hold on to a propaganda claim [it] know[s] to be false than to get change in Palestinian


 Israeli professor Nurit Peled has researched the subject of incitement in Israeli textbooks

extensively. Peled describes what she found as racism that prepares young Israelis for their

compulsory military service. For example, textbook which states that the Palestinian exodus in

1948 following the brutal massacre of Palestinians by Israeli militias at Deir Yassin “solved a

terrifying demographic problem” for Israel. Israeli President Chaim Weizman called it a “miracle”.(6)

 Example question and model answer for an Israeli high school civics exam, 11 June 2012

[English translation]


“Question: The wives of rabbis published a letter calling on the daughters of Israel not to hang

around Arabs. There are those who support this letter and those who think it is not appropriate.

Express your opinion about the letter. In your answer, present two reasons and explain using

concepts you learned in Civics.


I support the letter of the rabbis’ wives.

a) If the daughters of Israel hang around Arabs, they are liable to have relationships and marry

them. This would harm the Jewish majority of the state.

b) If the daughters of Israel hang around Arabs, they are liable to fall victims of violence for

nationalistic reasons. This would harm their right to life and security.”(7)





 On Friday 17th January 2014, news came out that Arieh King (Jerusalem Councilman and

founder of the “Israel Land Fund”) has been distributing flyers to Palestinians in Jerusalem,

urging them to leave. “...In the Torah it is also written that the land of Israel, this small land,

belongs to the Jewish people alone and it is forbidden for others to live here in a permanent

manner…Therefore we demand that you leave the land of Israel. We say this from a religious

perspective, in order to ensure peace in the land of Israel.”


By demanding that Palestinians leave Jerusalem:



(4) http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=561915

(5) http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/02/israeli-palestinian-textbook-study.html

(6) Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education, London and New York, 2012

(7) Alternative News: http://bit.ly/1bi1nNO


By encouraging illegal settlement in the occupied State of Palestine:

 “No Jewish town [settlement] will be uprooted. We’ll continue building in our

homeland” [and] “There are no two-states west of the Jordan River and there will be no

two-states” Israeli Minister of Housing Uri Ariel, January 8, 2014.

 “That we will never agree to give up Jerusalem, a united city under Israeli sovereignty,

and only Israeli. We will not accept a terrorist Palestinian state, we will not accept an

agreement based on the 67 lines (…) We will not exchange territory as if we were doing

cut-and-paste on some Word document on the computer.” Israeli Minister Naftali

Bennett, January 7 2014.

 “Israel will not evacuate Hebron or Bet El as part of any deal” PM Netanyahu referring to

Israeli settlers in the heart of the occupied Palestinian districts of Hebron and Ramallah, January 6 2014.

 “It is our duty to encourage continuous Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria [the

occupied West Bank]” – Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett, December 11 2013.

 Raids on Al-Aqsa mosque by settlers including Members of Knesset- see press release, March 2013.

The problem of incitement is an issue which is sadly not uncommon in situations of conflict. Where it

genuinely exists, it remains the firm conviction of the State of Palestine that incitement should be an

issue that is addressed seriously by both parties. It should not be used a tool for propaganda

purposes or to divert attention away from other matters.

Several studies by Palestinian, Israeli and international experts have concluded that the issue of

Palestinian incitement is vastly exaggerated, and that incitement exists just as firmly on the Israeli

side. If Israel feels it has genuine concerns about incitement, then PM Netanyahu should not hesitate

to accept the resumption of the Tripartite Committee on Incitement.

The greatest cause for concern for Palestine is that Israeli incitement, defined as the provocation of

unlawful behavior, goes far beyond words in the case of Israel. This is a situation where one people is

engaged in a belligerent and draconian occupation of another, which the Israeli government

constantly attempts to justify to its own people and the rest of the world.


The Israeli government’s ongoing occupation, at the heart of which lies its illegal settlement

enterprise from which it is constantly striving to divert attention, sets a clear example to its people.

This includes, on a daily basis: forcibly evicting people from their homes and land; soldiers harassing

and humiliating parents at checkpoints in front of their children; children being arrested and beaten

by Israeli soldiers; 1.6 million people in Gaza living under a crushing military siege which, according

to the UN, will make the place “unlivable” by 2020; and settlers attacking Palestinian families, their

animals, trees, churches, mosques, houses and other property. An end to the occupation and the

fulfillment of Palestinian rights is the only way to achieve peace and solve any issue of incitement on either side.



Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2013, Pages 38-39

New York City and Tri-State News

Nurit Peled-Elhanan and Miko Peled Challenge Zionist Narrative

Authors Miko Peled (l) and Nurit Peled-Elhanan. (Staff photo J. Adas)

Nurit Peled-Elhanan and Miko Peled are a formidable brother/sister team. Their father, Mattiyahu Peled, was an Israeli general who left the military for academia as a scholar of Arabic literature. He became a prominent peace activist, a path his daughter also followed. In 2001, Peled-Elhanan received the EU's Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and Freedom of Speech, and in 2009 was one of the instigators of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. She is professor of education and language at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and author of Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education. Miko Peled left Israel to teach karate and raise a family in California. The death of Elhanan's daughter Smadar, who was killed in a 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem, set Peled on his own, more gradual path to fully committed peace activism, which he chronicles in The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine (both books are available from the AET Book Club). The two held a public conversation Oct. 8 at Manhattan's All Souls Unitarian Church.

Each author takes a different approach. Peled-Elhanan's is a thoroughly documented study, replete with scholarly apparatus. Peled's is a first-person account of his growing awareness of the consequences for Palestinians of Zionism. Nevertheless, both have the same goal: to expose, challenge and overcome the Zionist national narrative.

Peled related his mother's decision in 1948 to reject the offer of a beautiful Palestinian house at no cost because she could not "move into the home of another mother." Something about this family story bothered Peled. While writing his book, he realized why: because it contradicts the national narrative of "Arabs attacked. We won. They left."

If this were true, he asked, what was the moral issue in accepting the house? But who attacked? At the time, he elaborated, two communities expected to become states. The Zionists had thousands of militias; there was no equivalent on the other side. Arab armies did not get involved until months later. Nobody attacked. Back in his adopted home, Peled joined dialogue groups. He recalled feeling anxious about going to a Palestinian home in San Diego, but in time his new friends patiently and kindly widened his vision. Fear turned to trust and awareness led to action.

Peled-Elhanan examined post-Oslo textbooks used by Israeli high school students, for whom the next step is induction into the army. She found that Palestinians are mostly absent; when they are depicted, it is never PLU (people like us), she said. Rather Palestinians are presented as primitive, poor, even sometimes labeled "foreign workers." They are depicted as a threat, as in a photo of Palestinian boys throwing stones. But, Peled-Elhanan noted, half the photo is missing—the part with an Israeli tank, which would have made the boys look like David facing Goliath. Or they are shown as a problem—a photo of Palestinians in pitiful refugee camps—that poisons Israel's relations with the Arab world.

Peled interjected that because settler children receive a more extreme version of the Zionist narrative, he fears they will become like the Taliban. The "racist discourse" in Israeli textbooks, Peled-Elhanan concluded, "infects students with ideology" and "prepares them for one thing only: to be good soldiers."   

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