From the Monitor, exposing a oft-unquestioned assumption that Palestinian students are educated with hatred toward Jews:
Three years in the making at a cost of $500,000, the U.S. State Department–funded report explores textbooks issued by the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and religious bodies. The research, overseen by Sami Adwan from Bethlehem University and Daniel Bar-Tal from Tel Aviv University and designed by Yale psychiatry professor Bruce Wexler, examined 94 Palestinian and 74 Israeli schoolbooks published between 2009 and 2011.
The study was carried out under the auspices of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, a Jerusalem-based body representing Christian, Jewish and Islamic leaders. A team of Palestinians and Israelis trained by Adwan and Bar-Tal conducted the research, which involved going through books used in West Bank and Gaza Strip schools run by the PA, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) and religious bodies. On the Israeli side, the research examined books used in secular and religious schools run by the state and others catering to the needs of ultra-Orthodox students.
Despite the report’s evenhandedness, it was boycotted by Israel’s Ministry of Education, which slammed it as “biased, unprofessional, and significantly lacking in objectivity.” The ministry issued a statement that said, in part, “The clear impression formed is that it is a ‘study’ with findings that were predetermined even before it was carried out professionally, and it certainly does not reliably reflect reality.”
Speaking at the Jerusalem press conference where the study was released, Professor Wexler described the ministry’s statement as “false at every level,” adding, “The Israeli government would rather hold on to a propaganda claim [it] know[s] to be false than to get change in Palestinian books.”
The report rebutted claims that Palestinian schoolbooks used highly negative depictions, noting that these were extremely rare. For example, the researchers flatly denied allegations that Palestinian books contained “calls to go murder Jews” or “praise of those who murder Jews.” In fact, the study only found six examples in the textbooks “that were rated as portraying the other in extreme negative ways other than as the enemy, and none of these six were general dehumanizing characterizations of personal traits of Jews or Israelis.” Twenty extremely negative depictions were found in the Israeli state books and 7 in the ultra-Orthodox books.
The research concluded that both sides’ books were “guilty” of using a selective narrative that undermined the story of the other, which the researchers said is not unusual in conflict areas.
- Misnomers and Idealism in the Palestinian Question – September 21, 2011