Palestinian elementary school textbooks are indoctrinating students to become “martyrs,” a Sunday report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) claims.
According to The Times of Israel, the 4th-grade textbooks, which are distributed by the Palestinian Authority, incorporate glorification of martyrdom into basic arithmetic problems.
“The number of martyrs of the First Intifada during 1987–93 totaled 2,026 martyrs, and the number of martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Intifada in the year 2000 totaled 5,050 martyrs while the number of the wounded reached 49,760,” one question asks. “How many martyrs died in the two Intifadas?”
In case the message wasn’t clear enough, another illustration depicts students looking at a classmate’s empty desk which has been replaced with a sign reading “martyr” in Arabic.
“There is little doubt of significant — even alarming — deterioration of the curriculum’s message when compared with our review of previous texts for these age groups,” the report states. “In this regard, that does not bode well for future peace prospects.”
Marcus Sheff, the CEO of IMPACT-se said that the textbooks are “actually more radical” than previous editions and promote the idea that children are “potentially expendable” in the war against Israel.
“Despite assurances from the PA Education Ministry, these new books are actually more radical than we have previously seen,” Sheff said, according to The Jerusalem Post, adding that the textbooks “place the idea of a young person being a martyr in a public light.”
The accusations of incitement have been denied by Palestinian education curriculum chief Tharwat Zeid, who suggested the textbooks promote a legitimate historical lesson.
“Our books are not for inciting hatred, but for teaching,” Zeid said. “Historical Palestine” is taught because it is “our history and it was our land.”
Sheff disagreed, noting that the textbooks present Palestinian nationalism in stark and graphic terms, explicitly encouraging terror and violence. Sheff referred to passages such as “the volcano of my revenge, the longing of my blood for my land, I shall sacrifice my blood to saturate the land.”
“Are these suitable messages for a 9-year-old?” he asked.
Incitement by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas has also been criticized by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a media-monitoring organization founded in 1982. According to CAMERA, the P.A. and Hamas “promote a culture of hatred of and violence toward Jews in Israel and even worldwide.”
In a 2014 study, “Portrayal of the Other in Palestinian and Israeli Schoolbooks,” professors at Bar Ilan and Tel Aviv University suggested that both Israeli and Palestinian schoolbooks demonize one another, containing “unilateral national narratives that present the other as the enemy.”
The report, which was also cited by Times of Israel, noted that the schoolbooks on both sides suffered from “a lack of information about the religions, culture, economic and daily activities of the Other, or even of the existence of the Other on maps.”
Founded in 1998 IMPAC-se describes itself as “a research, policy and advocacy organization that monitors and analyzes education.” The group says it uses “international standards on peace and tolerance as derived from UNESCO declarations and resolutions to determine compliance and to advocate for change when necessary,” and adds that its main goal is to prevent the radicalization of children.
The organization has been critically scrutinized by some, including Haaretz journalist Akiva Eldar. In 2001, Eldar wrote that the organization’s former Director of Research Itamar Marcus had been “making a living translating and disseminating defamatory communications against Israel, extracted by his staff from Palestinian publications.”
“Marcus, a settler, used to work for David Bar Illan, Benjamin Netanyahu’s PR chief, and served on the Joint Israeli Palestinian Anti-Incitement Committee. Marcus’s center routinely feeds the media with excerpts from “Palestinian” textbooks that call for Israel’s annihilation. He doesn’t bother to point out that the texts quoted in fact come from Egypt and Jordan.”