Israel is routinely left off maps, Israeli cities are said to be in Palestine, martyrdom is celebrated, and there is not a single mention of the Holocaust in more than 70 official Palestinian Authority textbooks, Israel Radio reported Tuesday.
The state radio’s Palestinian affairs correspondent, Gal Berger, said he looked over textbooks for grades 1-12 with a diverse range of subjects, including history, geography and Islamic studies, and found what he indicated was a systematic blurring out of Israel’s existence.
“In the textbooks of the Palestinian Authority,” he said, “there is no education towards two states or a Palestinian state [alongside Israel] within ’67 lines.”
In the Palestinian history books for grades 10-12, there are full chapters dedicated to World War II but no mention of the Holocaust, Berger reported. “For a student in this [Palestinian education] system,” said Berger, “it is as if the Holocaust never happened.”
In his examination of the Islamic studies textbooks, Berger found excerpts that celebrated martyrdom, including a fourth grade textbook that invites the children to write about a Palestinian martyr of their choice.
He posted a picture on his Twitter account from a page of a ninth grade textbook of Islamic studies, which he said constituted praise for martyrdom. The page begins with a Quranic verse which instructs Muslims to kill or imprison nonbelievers. If a Muslim should die in the process, the verse says, “God will not send away their works…and (will) admit them into paradise.” The textbook’s interpretation of the verse, Berger said, states that the martyrs “will be given the highest place in paradise with the prophets and messengers.”
The issue of paradise and the division between believers (Muslims) and nonbelievers permeates the textbooks, according to Berger. For example, in one textbook, it is written that Palestine will be the frontline between Muslims and infidels.
The erasure of Israel’s physical existence begins early, with cartoons in first grade textbooks showing stores in Palestine — among them a pharmacy in Safed, a supermarket in Haifa and a candy store in Beersheba, Berger reported. (All three cities are in Israel.) It “continues like this through the different grades,” Berger noted.
Berger also cited a reading comprehension article in a seventh grade geography textbook, in which such Israeli cities as Haifa, Beersheba, Jaffa, Safed, Ashdod and Ashkelon are said to be famous cities of Palestine.
In a picture from textbook on his Twitter feed, Berger also showed a true-or-false question which stated: “The surface area of Palestine is 27,027 square kilometers.” The answer, “true,” has Palestine subsuming Israel completely.
Incitement from within the Palestinian Authority education system is often cited, notably by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a cause for the current wave of Palestinian terror and violence against Israel. Berger said Tuesday he checked the books to see if there was a basis to this claim. “It’s important how you define what you mean by incitement,” he said, in presenting his findings on Israel Radio on Tuesday. “Do the textbooks openly call for attacks against Israelis or Jews? You won’t find that,” he said. However, Berger said, the textbooks lay an ideological foundation that can lead a young Palestinian to carry out an attack.
Quoting possibly incendiary Quranic verses verbatim is not the problem, he argued. Rather, he said, the incitement originates in the state-sanctioned interpretation of the verse in which martyrs are told they will go to paradise.
Ashraf al-Ajami, a political commentator and former Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, countered that maps in Israel do not designate the borders of the state, or mark a distinction between sovereign Israeli territory and areas captured in the 1967 war.
“If you ask any kid in the West Bank what Palestine is, he will say the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” — not Israel — Ajami said in an Israel Radio interview.
Ajami also said that all the textbooks are read over by representatives of the European Union who look for any signs of incitement.
Likud Minister without Portfolio Ofir Akunis told Israel Radio that he was “absolutely certain” of a link between PA education and the current wave of attacks, and that “not a day goes by” without the Palestinian Authority inciting against Israel.