The British government last year gave £20 million to Palestinian schools teaching a curriculum that a watchdog group says embraces jihad, omits references to peace agreements with Israel, and encourages martyrdom, the Sunday Times reported.
A review by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) found that study material from the Palestinian Authority textbooks “exerts pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence.”
Among the ideas taught to pupils are the physics behind slingshots used to hurl rocks at Israel soldiers, the glorification of martyrs, and images that infuse ideas of war.
“The curriculum exerts pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence in a more extensive and sophisticated manner,” IMPACT-se wrote. “The discourse is couched in terms of nationalist and religious martyrdom, across science, literature, history and religious education textbooks.”
“With a comprehensive and oft-stated justification for defensive (obligatory) jihad, the curriculum’s focus appears to have expanded from demonization of Israel to providing a rationale for war,” it continued.
In answers given to the UK parliament, Minister of State for International Development Alistair Burt revealed that UK taxpayers’ money is funding the wages of 33,000 teachers who use the new curriculum, the Times said.
Speaking last week, Burt said that “all of their [the PA’s] schools in the West Bank are using the revised 2017 PA curriculum. UK-funded public servants and teachers . . . are therefore involved..”
Member of parliament Joan Ryan, chairwoman of Labour Friends of Israel, denounced the funding of schools that use the curriculum.
“It is absolutely appalling that UK taxpayers’ money is helping to support the teaching of a curriculum which incites violence and terrorism and spreads anti-Semitism,” she said. “The government must immediately suspend all aid to the Palestinian Authority until it commits to wholesale and urgent revisions of the curriculum.”
The Department for International Development responded to the Times in a statement saying “Our support is helping around 25,000 young Palestinians go to school each year. The UK government strongly condemns all forms of violence and incitement to violence.”
In August the Palestinian Authority introduced a new school curriculum for grades 5-11. In a review published in October, IMPACT-se found that “radicalization is pervasive across this new curriculum, to a greater extent than before.”
Sacrifice of life is also encouraged for girls in the context of equal rights and heroes are those who “sacrificed their souls.”
“They [hereos] taught people that drinking the cup of bitterness with glory is much sweeter than a pleasant long life accompanied by humiliation,” reads one 5th grade Arabic-language textbook according to an English translation in the IMPACT-se report.
“Giving one’s life [fida’], sacrifice, fight, jihad and struggle are the most important meanings of life,” another text urges.
A science text book ties physics principles to attacking Israeli soldiers with slingshots.
“During the first Palestinian uprising, Palestinian youths used slingshots to confront the soldiers of the Zionist Occupation and defend themselves from their treacherous bullets,” the text reads. “What is the relationship between the elongation of the slingshot’s rubber and the tensile strength affecting it?”
Social studies books include images of children sitting in school rooms with some desks empty except for a sign reading “martyr.”
“Israel, regardless of boundaries, is depicted as an affront to Arab nationalism, part of a series of divisions imposed on the Arab Homeland by colonial powers,”IMPACT-se noted. “In many cases the curriculum does not use the name ‘Israel’ or ‘Israelis.’ Instead, it uses the ‘Occupation,’ ‘Zionist Occupation,’ ‘Zionists’ or metaphors like invaders and oppressors.”
References to the two-state solution for peace are not included in text books, as are any United Nations calls for an end to the violence, found the report by the Jerusalem-based group.
A Grade 11 history text book on the Oslo Accords that lead to the creation of the the Palestinian Authority has “no reference to peace, exchange of letters of recognition, transfer of territories from Israel to the PLO or the Nobel Peace Prize,” IMPACT-se said.
The Israeli government has long argued that incitement in Palestinian textbooks is a main contributor to hatred and terrorism against Israelis. Palestinian officials counter that draconian Israeli measures and decades of occupation, not incitement, instill hatred and inspire terrorism.
The issue has taken on increasing significance of late, as members of Congress have threatened to decrease US aid to Palestinians if incitement is not curbed.
Agencies contributed to this report.