Iranian schoolkids are studying anti-Semitism, hatred and conspiratorial material in their textbooks, including a theory that Western media hyped up the COVID-19 pandemic to thwart large-scale attendance at last year’s celebration of the Iranian revolution, according to a comprehensive study published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Thursday.
The ADL said its report, “Incitement: Antisemitism and Violence in Iran’s Current State Textbooks,” is the first comprehensive study of anti-Semitism, intolerance and extremism in the official Iranian school curriculum in nearly half a decade.
The study was published on the 42nd anniversary of the 1979 revolution that saw the rise of the current autocratic, conservative Islamic regime which has long threatened to destroy Israel and which is now battling US sanctions imposed to curb its nuclear activity.
Specific examples include teaching students to chant “Death to Israel,” a nation the books describe as a fake regime that must be eliminated. They teach that Jews have conspired against Islam from its earliest days, forging Islamic scriptures and using warfare and even Freemasonry to achieve evil aims
Students are also taught that US-led sanctions against Iran are part of a “satanic plan” to eliminate Muslims’ religious beliefs, and that the Iranian people, through their nuclear scientists in particular, “have achieved a blessing with your great jihad and the blood of your bounteous youths.”
Last year, in response to the global pandemic, Tehran updated school textbooks to include a conspiracy theory alleging that Western media exaggerated the coronavirus to drive down turnout at crowded ceremonies for the regime’s 41st anniversary, said report author David Weinberg.
Iran is the Middle East country worst hit by COVID-19.
“Iran, which has been identified by the US State Department as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, is publishing and distributing an official school curriculum whose textbooks glorify terrorism, indoctrinate hate among young people and encourage conspiratorial thinking — all in flagrant disregard for international norms and obligations,” the ADL said in a statement.
Its CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, added: “It is no secret that the Iranian regime continues to promote extremism and terrorism and feeds its people on a steady diet of anti-Semitic and anti-American propaganda. Iran’s textbooks show how deeply ingrained this official campaign of incitement is within society, and how they are reaching impressionable young people with these xenophobic and dehumanizing messages as part of the formal teaching curriculum.”
The US organization called on Washington and other countries “urgently to take coordinated action to condemn and to counter Iran’s state-sponsored incitement of anti-Semitism, including in its schools.”
Weinberg, the study’s author and ADL’s Washington Director for International Affairs, said that “while some curricula in the region are starting to improve, scaling back incitement and encouraging discussions about tolerance, Tehran’s educational anti-Semitism and incitement to violence is as militant as ever.
“From demonizing Jews in lessons about ancient history to glorifying anti-Semitic terrorists as recently as 2020, Tehran’s current curriculum is brimming with state-sponsored bigotry.”