When textbooks teach hate: Indoctrination in Palestine
I remember my grade school text books, not always fondly, but I do remember them. I remember the frustration of math homework, the wonders of history, and learning about the scope of the world through geography. I remember how they introduced topics through the years, growing and changing with the students. The simple allegory of 3 baskets of 10 apples to teach early multiplication. The bizarre cartoons in the French textbooks where the punchline always got lost in translation. The puns and witticisms making Shakespeare and Bronte more approachable for modern teenagers.
These simple, healthy images may be familiar to us, but they aren’t to other children. Under the Palestinian Authority’s watch, children in Palestine are learning very different lessons from their texts. Lessons in hate and fear designed to further racial and ideological divides in the troubled nation.
A report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education examined the k-12 textbooks published for the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum since a major revamp in the year 2000. The results were disturbing. Basic educational texts for foundational studies such as math and grammar have been heavily politicized, often incorporating violent themes. They found that across all grades and subjects, these texts are "teaching Palestinian children that there can be no compromise”.
The report details many examples that cut across all grades and topics; subjects needlessly laced with poisonous commentary designed to indoctrinate young minds while they are trying to learn. For example, fourth graders learning their multiplication tables are walked through an example counting the number of martyrs killed by Israel; a blood-soaked example designed to inspire fear and distrust.
Another example the report details takes place in a high school physics text. In what might be considered grim humor if it wasn’t so tasteless, Newton’s Second Law of Motion, that the acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, is illustrated by way of a Palestinian firing a slingshot against IDF troops. This is a particularly irresponsible piece of flare for such a simple topic. Inspiring teens to confront armed soldiers with slingshots puts their own lives in danger, which will only feed the cycle of violence.
Most distressingly, according to the report, the texts frequently conflated "Jews” and "Zionists,” essentially using the terms interchangeably. This is notable since most racial bias against the Jewish people is cloaked under the cover of "Zionist” opposition. Conflating the two terms reveals the real target of the Palestinian Authority’s ire, the Jewish people.
While the report elaborates on a few bright spots such as the acknowledgement of Palestinian terror attacks against Israel, the overall summation is still distressing. A generation of children are growing up with a warped perspective of the world, and a specifically cultivated prejudice against the Jewish people.
This kind of hatred needs to be confronted and countered. Palestinian children deserve educational texts that do not predispose them towards the cycle of violence and aggression that has plagued the area for decades. And the Jewish people do not deserve to be slandered and scapegoated to an entire generation.
Reconciliation can only happen when both sides decide to move forward. The Palestinian Authority can not hope to see peace while it uses its own children’s minds as a battleground.