An examination of Palestinian fifth and tenth-grade textbooks for the 2004-2005 school year

Israel still does not appear on maps in Palestinian textbooks

A �Political map of the Arab homeland� in a fifth-grade geography textbook indicates Palestine while making no reference to Israel. As in previous years, the name of Israel once again does not appear in the textbooks examined, this being part of an educational policy that reflects a fundamental attitude denying the State of Israel�s right to exist.


Ms. Noa Meridor is a researcher in the Defense Ministry�s office of the Coordinator of Israeli Government Activities in the Territories, yearly examining the contents of Palestinian textbooks, primarily focusing on the stance towards the State of Israel, the Zionist movement, and the Jewish people. The present document was translated into English by Mr. Eldad Salzman, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center�s translation team.

Main findings1

  • In the 2004-2005 school year, at the end of Yasser Arafat�s era and the beginning of Mahmoud Abbas�s (Abu Mazen) tenure, the Palestinian Education Ministry published 29 new textbooks for the fifth and tenth grades. We examined the books, used to this day, with the purpose of analyzing their outlook on issues related to the State of Israel, Zionism, the Jewish people, and the Palestinians� attitude towards the State of Israel. The findings of the review of that year�s books, compared to books from previous years, indicate a consistent, long-standing negative attitude of the Palestinian curriculum towards the State of Israel, the Zionist movement, and the Jewish people.
  • As in the past, the existence of the State of Israelis conspicuously ignored in this year�s curriculum. Israel does not appear on the maps, and when it does appear in written texts, it is only in negative contexts. The agreements achieved between Israel and the Palestinians are not mentioned. A strong emphasis is placed on the �Israeli occupation� and settlements in the �territories�, portrayed as part of the phenomenon of global imperialism, coveting the lands of the weak. The list of negative actions attributed to Israel has grown to include the construction of the Security Fence.
  • To undermine the ideological foundation of the Zionist movement, the book authors keep ignoring the Israeli people�s profound historic connection with the Land of Israel. They do so by almost completely disregarding the ancient Jewish presence in the Land of Israel, and by defining the ancient inhabitants of the region as Arab peoples .2 As for the Palestinians� attitude towards Israel, the books, as in the past, deal with war, violent confrontation, what they refer to as �the martyrdom of the Palestinian warriors�, and the refugees� �right of return� to those places in Israel they left.
  • An innovation of grave significance found in one of the 2004-2005 textbooks is the use of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a means to besmirch the Zionist movement , reiterating anti-Semitic myths on the Jews� intention to take over the entire world (note: the authors of the book chose to omit that section from this page in another edition of the book). Furthermore, even though the subject of World War II and its consequences is covered in one of the textbooks, its authors chose to totally ignore the Holocaust.
  • In the previous year (2003-2004), a positive change was observed in the textbooks, which indicated the Green Line and mentioned the agreements between the Palestinians and Israel. The 2004-2005 textbooks, however, show a regression, which is reflected in ignoring the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and in renewing the practice of referring to population centers in Israel proper (within its pre-1967 borders) as �settlements� (the purpose being to portray them as illegitimate and temporary). Moreover, the textbooks also make use of anti-Semitic motifs as a means to attack the Zionist movement.


  • These negative findings are characteristic of the Palestinian curriculum, based on an educational policy striving to indoctrinate the young generation of Palestinians with hatred against the State of Israel. It is reflected in the denial of Israel�s legitimacy, unwillingness to peacefully coexist with it, cultivation of hostility against Israel (and against the Jews, albeit to a lesser extent), attempt to refute the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel by rewriting history, and inculcation of the concept of violent struggle as a positive national and religious value. This �education�, conducted in the Palestinian Authority�s education institutions, gives rise to new generations of students instilled with hatred against Israel, making peaceful coexistence between the two peoples highly difficult to achieve.

Breakdown of the review�s findings by subject  

The attitude towards the State of Israel

  • This year, as in previous years, the State of Israel is ignored, except for negative contexts. This characteristic comes into expression in various ways in the textbooks, including: not marking Israel�s name on maps; ignoring the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians; avoiding the use of the State of Israel in examples or comparisons for which the authors turn to other countries in the world; �annexing� to Palestine sites located within the State of Israel, i.e., between the sea and the Jordan river there is room for only one Palestinian entity, which includes sites in Israel; and emphasizing Israel�s negative character and acts.
  • Examples follow:
    • Ignoring the State of Israel
      • As in previous years, Israel�s name is once again not mentioned even on a single map in the textbooks reviewed. There are maps where the authors completely ignore Israel and its borders: a physical map of Egypt, for example, delineates the borders of the countries adjacent to Egypt, but it only says �Palestine� in Israel�s territory3; a map that includes Israel and the �territories� in a chapter on Palestinian dress features neither the Green Line nor the name of Israel, and the student is asked to note on this map places in Israel such as Beersheba, Jaffa, Beit She�an, the Galilee and Nazareth4; a map demonstrating India�s position on the Asian continent notes the names of all the countries, including Palestine, with the exception of Israel5; a map of Israel and the �territories� is drawn to illustrate the Palestinian flora; although it includes the Green Line and does not show any names, the text accompanying the map refers only to Palestine.6
      • Similarly to their past practice, the authors of the books resort to tricky means to circumvent the problem of ignoring Israel in order to make it easier for them to deal with expected criticism that they endured in the past. Thus, for example:
        • Presenting the map of the region, for various needs, they refer to it as the �map of Arab countries� or the �map of the Arab homeland�; thus, they have an ostensible explanation for leaving out Israel.7 The �map of the Arab world� is also used to demonstrate a physical or economic map.8
        • To demonstrate a political map where there is no alternative but to display all the countries contained therein, the authors of the fifth-grade geography book chose to use a map of South America.9
        • The Green Line is marked, but the block containing Israel and the �territories� is filled with the same color, different from the colors of each of the surrounding countries of the region.10
        • The student is instructed to apply the viewpoint ignoring Israel without explicitly stating it: the student is asked to draw the �map of Palestine�, filling in the borders and names of its bordering countries.11 The student, not having learned about Israel in this chapter, is not supposed to know Israel�s name to fill it in, and the authors of the book are exempt from proof, since they do not instruct the student to ignore Israel.
        • The maps shown reduce Israel�s territory to such an extent that there is barely room for just a single name: Palestine12 (see, for example, map on the front page of the current document). One may compare maps of Europe in the geography book, presented on a scale that allows one to fill in even the name of such a small country as Andorra.13
      • As already mentioned, the text makes no reference to Israel, the exception being in negative contexts. In places where the authors could use Israel as a neutral example for positive phenomena, they choose to ignore it. Worse, they avoid mentioning it even when they must do so: the history book states that the �land of Al-Sham� nowadays includes the following states: Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Israel, however, is not mentioned.14 In the same book, it is stated that Egypt borders Sudan, Palestine, and Libya, while Israel is missing from the list as well as from the exercise accompanying this lesson.15
      • The inevitable conclusion is that the systematic disregard of Israel is designed to inculcate the students with an inevitable conclusion that Israel does not have the right to exist.
    • The agreements between Israel and the Palestinians:
      • In contrast with the ninth-grade history textbook published in the 2003-2004 school year, which mentioned Israel�s peace treaty with Egypt and the Gaza-Jericho agreement with the Palestinians, this year, 2004-2005, no references were found in the textbooks to the State of Israel�s agreements with the Palestinians (and with Arab countries).
      • Furthermore, the national education book mentions, among the �significant events undergone by the Palestinian society in the modern era�, the British occupation, the Nakba,16 the occupation of the �remainder of Palestine� in 1967, the two violent confrontations between the Palestinians and Israel (the intifadas), and even the establishment of the [Palestinian] National Authority in 1994. However, the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians are not counted among those significant events, this being one more context where Israel is left out.17
    • �Annexing� sites in Israel to the entity called Palestine:
      • The policy of associating sites and locales in the State of Israel with Palestine, followed in previous years, continues. Sometimes only the context is Palestinian, without specifically mentioning the name of Palestine, but in most examples these locales are defined as Palestinian or as part of Palestine alone.
      • For example: Haifa is a Palestinian sea port,18 and Galilee, Nazareth, and Beit She�an are regions in Palestine.19 The Jordan River flows between Jordan and Palestine,20 and �its headwaters are located where the borders of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine meet.�21 Lake Tiberias (i.e., the Sea of Galilee) is in Palestine22 and the �[Mediterranean] Sea is found to the west of Palestine�,23 the coastal plane is Palestinian,24 and even Lake Hula is found in Palestine.25
      • Mount Jermak (Mount Meiron, near Safed) is mentioned in the same breath as Mount Eival and Mount Grizim26 (near Nablus), and in one instance even referred to as one of the mountains of Palestine.27 Beit She�an is one of the �Palestinian cities� whose height above sea level the student is asked to determine.28
      • For comparison, it should be noted that when the authors of the book want to point out the name of the country where the locale is found, they do so: for example, �the Syrian Al-Hamma springs�.29 Their failure to mention Israel, therefore, is intentional.

Nurturing a negative image for the State of Israel

  • In the present group of books, Israel�s name only appears in negative contexts. Examples are numerous: �there is no doubt that the Israeli occupation has a negative impact on [Palestinian] agriculture and its export�;30 the control of the Israeli occupation of lands, water and energy sources is an obstacle to the Palestinian industry;31 the establishment of the State of Israel on parts of Palestine at the expense of the Palestinian residents who were forced to immigrate; the occupation of the remainder of Palestine by the Israelis in 1967;32 the call issued by the Organization of African Unity to Israel to withdraw from the occupied Arab lands;33 the Al-Damoun prison, where �the Israeli authorities hold captive the Arab warriors�.34 There are many additional examples, in most of which the name of Israel is accompanied by such negative words as �occupation�, �imperialism�, �exploitation�, �domination�, and �arrest�.
  • The negative phenomena associated with Israel�s character and actions are an additional means to portray Israel�s image in a negative light even without mentioning its name:
    • The �occupation� as a synonym for Israel: having learned that �the Palestinian people are under an oppressive siege, limiting their movement and way of life�, the student is asked to compare the siege laid to the Prophet with the siege on the Palestinians.35 He also learns that �the Palestinian family has problems� stemming from the occupation:� it loses father, mother or son to death or imprisonment� endures the difficulties of life� the plunder of the lands� the demolition of houses, and movement difficulties on the ground�;36 �the occupation authorities� taking over 89% of water in Palestine�;37 �the occupation has caused the erosion of agricultural soil, uprooting fruit trees, destroying water reservoirs and wells� damaging our Palestinian economy.�38 �[Agricultural] education� does not exist even though Kadouri College in Tulkarm produced � dozens of graduates, for many years� however, the occupation authorities closed down that agricultural institution on several occasions.�39 A long, detailed chapter refers to plundering the Palestinian water by the �occupation�,40 to mention only a few examples.
    • Imperialism (isti�mar) is another subject used to discredit Israel. The history book defines imperialism as the taking over of a weak country by a powerful one, subduing it by force in order to control its political, economic and cultural affairs.41 �Settlement� is defined as one of the forms of imperialism, for which the authors cite the �Zionist settlement in Palestine� as an example. The student is asked to write an essay on a �modern Arab rebel who fought imperialism in his country�,42 and is taught that �imperialism employs brutal tactics against citizens.�43
    • The (process of) settlement (istitan) is a concept associated only with Israel. The definition of the concept is somewhat general: �Settlement�controlling a country and expelling its owners, forcibly inserting settler elements instead of the original inhabitants, such as the European and Zionist settlement in Palestine.�44 However, the examples are taken from Palestinian experience: �The Hovevei Zion [�Lovers of Zion�] movement supported Jewish settlement in Palestine�;45 �the Balfour Declaration promises to realize the plan of Zionist settlement in Palestine�;46 the student is asked to write about �the phenomenon of settlement in my area�.47 In a chapter titled �Water and Occupation�, �the student will come to know the Zionist thought regarding Palestinian water, and will learn about� the influence of settlement on sources of water in Palestine�;48 �building settlements in the occupied lands is an illegal act according to international law, and therefore the exports of the Israeli settlements are illegal� The settlements were built and are still built for agricultural, military, strategic, religious, and other needs, in order to prevent the expansion of the Palestinian population blocks, but they all operate for a single purpose, and that is to control Palestinian land and its natural resources, in particular its water.� Especially strong-worded is the accusation made against the settlements of damaging water sources due to their industrial use of toxic chemical substances.49
    • As previously found in a seventh-grade textbook, this year (2004-2005) as well the word �settlement� does not apply only to Jewish population centers outside the Green Line, but refers also to the first communities, cities, towns and kibbutzim established by the Zionist movement in the Land of Israel and situated within the Green Line. �Exercise: I will look at one of the historical sources and write down the names of the Israeli settlements established in Palestine in the period between 1870 and 1914.�50
    • For the first time, the security fence built by Israel as a response to the terrorist campaign against it, is mentioned in the health and environment sciences textbook as part of the Palestinians� claims against Israel. It is called �the racist separation fence�,51 �the fence of annexation and separation�,52 or the fence that annexes and closes down cities53.
    • Wars and other events �one other method to discredit Israel is by using painful events in its history of relations with the Palestinians. Thus,, even though Israel�s name is not stated, it is plain for all to see who is to blame for the difficult situation and the harm that was inflicted. For example: �Those whose homes were destroyed did not find a place to shelter�;54 �the betrayed heart of this country is alive and shall not die�;55 the disaster of 1948, inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Zionist organizations, when most Palestinians were forced to immigrate from their country;56 UN resolutions 181, 194, 242, 338, which were not implemented even though they were passed in the highest international institution;57 the Zionist aggression in Palestine that was condemned by the Non-Aligned Movement;58 damaging the water wells whose number significantly dropped after the �occupation� of the territories in 1967 and diverting the water of the Jordan River through the National Water Conduit.59 Especially venomous is the false claim�one that intends to rewrite history and tarnish Israel in the religious aspect, and one that is accepted in the campaign of incitement waged by Arab countries�that it was an extremist Zionist who set fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on August 21, 1969,60 whereas the perpetrator of the act was a fundamentalist Christian Australian, a mentally unstable person who was put to trial in Israel.61



  • The attitude towards Zionism and the Zionist movement is no less negative than the attitude towards the State of Israel. Zionism is described in the textbooks as a racist movement, and it is examined from an anti-Semitic viewpoint of a religious background. A noteworthy innovation is the false claim, used by anti-Semitic Arab incitement for years, on the �Protocols of the Elders of Zion�, their association with Zionism, and the negative image they give to the Jewish people wherever they are.
  • The tenth-grade history textbook states: �Secret decisions passed in the congress62 and became known as the �Protocols of the Elders of Zion�, whose purpose was to take over the world� (in another edition of the same book, its authors probably chose to omit that section). The lesson dedicated to Zionism is a chapter in a unit titled �Modern Imperialism and World Wars�,63 according to which Zionism is a racist political ideological movement that arose in the second half of the 19th century, alongside the emergence of the new European imperialism. Zionism itself is a racist imperialist movement, and it is an inseparable part of global capitalism.
  • The book expresses an anti-Semitic attitude with religious messages: in building its principles and concepts, Zionism relied on �ostensible religious and historical rights�; �the Europeans� objection to the Jews stemmed, among other things, from the stagnant religious messages that sanctified the idea of Jewish purity and the objection to mixed marriages�; �Moses Hess issued a call to found Jewish colonies [musta�marat, a word derived from the same root as the Arabic word for imperialism, isti�mar] in Palestine�the promised land, as they claim.� One of the goals of the Zionist movement, explains the book, is that �the established country take over all components of military and economic power, at the same time allowing it to defend and attack, and provide services to the imperialist countries.�
  • Palestine, says the environment science textbook, is an attractive region for the �covetous�, for it has many water sources and tillable land, its climate is temperate, and it is close to Europe. The textbook claims that the issue of water had special significance in the Zionist idea, and the interest for water was concurrent with bringing �the first Jewish settlers to Palestine�.64
  • The Balfour Declaration is described with the Arabic word mash�um (cursed),65 a reference known from similar sentences that appeared in textbooks in the past years.


Refuting the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel

  • To refute the fundamental principle of the Zionist movement and the Jewish people on the ancestral right of the Jews to the Land of Israel, the curriculum, one step after another, in an organized, consistent, and continuing fashion, builds a supposedly scientific structure designed to prove that if an �ancestral right� exists, it belongs to the Palestinians.
  • The textbooks reviewed refer to the ancient peoples who inhabited the Land of Israel as Arabs, while avoiding mention of the ancient Jewish presence in the Land of Israel: �Concentrated� in the land of Al-Sham66� was the culture of the Canaanite and Aramaic peoples who migrated there from the Arab Peninsula;67 in 1500 BC the Arameans came from the Arab Peninsula;68 �drawings of our Canaanite forebears were found in the tombs of Egyptian ancients� [and] the new Palestinian dress resembles, to a great extent, the ancient dress.�69 The color of Palestinian dress indicates a Canaanite connection,70 as does the �aqqal.71 The Akkadians were Arab tribes who migrated from the Arab Peninsula,72 as did the Assyrians and the Amorites.73 No arguments are given in support of the blanket statement that those ancient peoples were Arab.74

The Jewish people

  • The grave examples of instilling hatred against the Jewish people are the use made by the authors of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,75 and their ignoring the Jewish Holocaust in Europe. One may also find tales marring the Jewish image, most of them of a religious character; all the while, the silence regarding the existence of the Jewish people and Jewish culture and their connection to the Land of Israel is in fact a resounding statement against them.
  • The Jews themselves are mentioned in historical Islamic contexts that provide an opportunity to demonstrate the Muslims� superiority over Jews, such as the tale about the Jew from the city of Al-Medina who converted to Islam when he saw the justice made by the Muslims;76 or a chapter from the Quran describing Muhammad and the Muslims� victory over Quraytha, a Jewish tribe who helped the infidels in their war against the believers. Some of the Jews were executed and some of them fell captive, with their lands and property distributed as spoils of war among the Muslim believers.77
  • In a chapter telling the tale of Moses and Aharon in their conflict with Pharaoh in Egypt, Jews are referred to only once as Children of Israel,78 while the rest completely ignores their religious and national affiliation. Moses and Aharon are sent by Allah to convince Pharaoh to believe in Allah; Allah is the one who planted in Moses� heart the decision to depart with �those with him� from Egypt at nighttime. A caption for an image that appears in the chapter states: �The people of Moses are leaving Egypt at night�. The following is a passage on the crossing of the Red Sea: �Moses and those with him passed on dry land to the other side� Allah rescued Moses and those with him [by drowning Pharaoh and his host].�79 Throughout the entire story, there is no mention of Moses� request of Pharaoh to let his people go, only his attempt to convince Pharaoh to believe in Allah. It is evident that this is a deliberate effort to mention the name of the Children of Israel as little as possible.
  • A similar phenomenon can be seen in the intentional disregard of the Jewish culture and the existence of Jews in the ancient Land of Israel, as already mentioned above. Mentioned are native cultures, which according to the authors are Arabs who came from the Arab Peninsula, such as the Canaanites and the Arameans, the Akkadians and the Assyrians. However, the ancient Jewish culture, the Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, the people and the Jewish religion are not mentioned except on a single occasion already mentioned above: a negative reference to the Hebrews as those whose expansion, according to the book, was withstood by the Arab Arameans.80 The expansion of the Hebrews in the region means that they were a significant factor, and as such should have been elaborated upon. The neglect to do so also indicates that their existence is intentionally ignored.
  • Ignoring the Jewish religion and its sites was already mentioned before, but of particular significance is the ignoring of a World War II history textbook of the Holocaust of European Jewry. Addressing the outcomes of the war, it refers to the millions of refugees it left behind and never mentions the Holocaust.81Such disregard in a special chapter in the curriculum dedicated to this subject, in a world that recognizes the importance of Holocaust remembrance, in the books of the Palestinian Authority, which neighbors the State of the Jews that was founded in the wake of the Holocaust�such disregard should be considered as Holocaust denial.
  • In the various references to the different countries and continents, Judaism is not mentioned by name as one of the religions in Asia, referring only to the �three monotheistic religions�.82
  • Ignoring the past and present of the Jewish people, the authors of the book add yet another stratum to the concept that Judaism, the people of Israel, and the State of Israel have no place in the Middle East.


War and violence as positive values

  • The absence of �positive� or even �colorless� Israel from the Palestinian curriculum testifies to the authors� intention to educate the youngsters for the establishment of only a Palestinian country in the region, and presenting Israel in a negative light entrenches hostility against it and objection to its existence. The next stage taken by the Palestinian education system is indicating the way to eliminate this �negative element�, that way being war.
  • This is not a direct guidance for war on Israel, but more than a few textbooks indicate the way of battle, war, and violence, by which the Palestinians will accomplish their goals: �Victory, with God�s help, will be to the people of Palestine�;83 the heroic mother �who incessantly presents one sacrifice [fida�] after another�;84 �[the mothers] who patiently endured their sons� deaths for the sake of Allah [istishhad]�;85 the warrior goes to war faced with one of the good options: victory or martyrdom in battle for the sake of Allah;86 the sword is truer than the books...87 etc.
  • Folk poetry has a role in encouraging the Palestinians to go to war: �The Palestinian folk poetry deals� with holidays and religious events� it is reminiscent of war and enthusiasm, and stimulates [the people] to go to battle��;88 �poetry, before the Nakba89 of 1948, had an important role in creating the mass consciousness, arousing their enthusiasm [hamas], and encouraging them to rebel against the occupants�.90
  • The concept of �date� is illustrated by two dates associated with the violent struggle waged by the Palestinians against Israel, the dates on which the two intifadas broke out: December 9, 1987, and September 28, 2000.91 Also war-related are the important events undergone by Palestinian society, according to the Palestinian version, in modern times: the British occupation, the �Nakba�, the occupation of �the remainder of Palestine�, the first and second intifadas. The only exception is the date of the establishment of the [Palestinian] National Authority in 1994, which once again does not mention the agreement signed with Israel that led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.92
  • The war of the people of Palestine is a religious mission: according to Muslim tradition, �the people of Al-Sham are Allah�s whip in the land, through which He takes vengeance on whoever He wants however He wants� Allah designated the people of this land (Al-Sham and Palestine) to an important task: they must stand on the forefront of the Muslim campaign against their enemies, and only if they fulfill their duty to their religion, nation, and land will they be rewarded as stated in the scriptures.�93
  • Examples to the importance of violence and war for Palestinians are many and dispersed throughout textbooks on various issues, extending even to children�s names such as Nidal (struggle) or Jihad (holy war). Even though this is not a direct call to war against Israel, the call to participate in the battle for the liberation of Palestine is enough. Furthermore, the textbooks present fighting the enemy not merely as a positive but rather as a glorious activity, bringing honor to those who engage in it.

The martyr (�shahid�) and martyrdom

  • Importance is ascribed to battles, particularly those held in Palestine, and the Muslim who dies as a martyr for the sake of Allah (shahid) serves as a role model. According to the textbooks, this kind of death is an honorable one and the Palestinian nation remembers for the better those who sacrificed their lives for Allah. Numerous examples reinforce the positive attitude towards the shahid: the status of the shahid is the highest,94 the blood of the pure shahids contributed to Palestine�s importance in Islam,95 a blessing for the flag of my country: � is kissed by the shahids in their blood... it was woven by the warriors on the paths of eternal bliss.�96
  • The Islamic education textbook dedicates a whole chapter to shahids and their importance for the Muslim nation. It tells the tale of Sumayya bint Khayyat, the first female shahid in Islam, and Al-Khansaa, the mother of shahids, whose four sons were killed in battle after she encouraged them to fight and show courage, so they may gain honor in paradise. When she found out they died, she thanked God for honoring her with their deaths for His sake.97 The connection between Al-Khansaa and Palestine is implied in the title of the poem where she is mentioned: �Palestine�.98
  • Extending care to families of shahids is a moral value, alongside extending care to the society�s prisoners and injury victims,99 and there are even descriptions of families who founded an association for care of children of shahids in their village.100
  • The inculcation with the value of shahid is also done through repeated citations of the term �shahid� in every subject on the curriculum, even outside of thematic context: the word al-shuhada� (the �shahids�) is used as an example within the context of studying the rules of the Arabic language,101 as are the sentences: �shahids live with their Lord�102 and �the warrior goes to war faced with one of the good options: victory or shahada [martyrdom for the sake of Allah]�.103
  • Words derived from the root f-d-y (redemption of the soul), whose meaning is equivalent to that of the word �shahid�, also appear in the textbooks in positive context: �Redemption for my homeland I did sacrifice with my blood�,104 �I carried with me the wounds of the Fedayeen�.105

The student is therefore indoctrinated with the idea that death as a shahid is a highly important value, and the danger to-be lies in the student�s practical translation of this notion with regard to the struggle against Israel.

The right of return

  • The return of Palestinian refugees to their land and homes is perceived by the Palestinian education system as a �right� to be realized. The implementation of this �right� inside the State of Israel is implied by the word �return�, and is strengthened by the call to return to the land occupied by Israel (that is, in 1948).
  • In the wake of the �disaster� that befell the refugees, the authors of the textbooks explain that the wrong must be made right by returning them to their homes: we returned to the homeland after a long absence;106 the soil of the homeland is beyond price; our absence from it shall not be long;107. �beloved Palestine, how shall I live away from your plains?�;108 their difficult living conditions caused by the Israeli occupation of their land, until they reach a safe haven upon their return;109 a refugee child writes a letter to the UN, telling of the hardships of the camp and his right to return to his original homeland;110 the story �Returning to Haifa� by Ghassan Kanafani�111
  • The poem �We, who return� addresses the means by which the return shall be implemented: �Returning to the homes, the plains and the mountains, under the banners of glory, jihad [holy war] and struggle�.112
  • It is also insinuated in the story on Jihad, a child who promises to watch over the registration papers of his family�s lands on the coastal plain and over the keys to his house, from which �the occupation� extracted his grandfather.113

(Minor) positive aspects in the curriculum

  • Examining the contents of the books shows that the fifth and tenth-grade textbooks �annex� less Israeli population centers and sites to Palestine than had been the case in the first years. Following are several examples in which only Palestinian sites are mentioned: �Geological folds are spread across the regions of our country, such as: Ein Qinya, Al-Fara, Anata and Beit Qad�;114 citrus agriculture in our land �is concentrated in the coastal plain of the homeland, particularly in the Gaza Strip, as well as in Jericho and the Jordan Valley115 (in the past, the city of Jaffa was commonly used as an example of a Palestinian city known for citrus cultivation). In a chapter dealing with agriculture in Palestine, the greengrocer counts the places where his produce is grown: �the sweet potato from Tubas, the tomato from Tulkarm, the cucumber from Jericho, the Lemon from Qalqilya, the grapes from Hebron��;116 examples of streambeds with only seasonal flow of water are Wadi Gaza and Wadi al-Fara.117
  • On other issues, the examples are scarce and at times pale in comparison to the negative themes of the textbooks, for example: the sentence stating that non-participation in war is one of children�s rights118 and the story from Islamic tradition that points out the ban laid by Islam on killing women and children in wars.119 These statements have little value in light of the great importance placed by the textbooks on war; similarly, even though the Torah is mentioned twice,120 its mention has little actual pedagogic value due to ignoring the Jewish faith and the ancient Jewish presence in the Land of Israel.
  • Little is studied on the positive attitude of Islam towards the Jews in the tenth grade, albeit in an ambivalent way that makes it clear that Islam is superior to Judaism: �When the Prophet immigrated to Al-Medina, where there were many Jews, his first political act was to forge a pact with them in which their beliefs were respected, and the state pledged to protect them� Thus, the Prophet laid out the principles of religious tolerance in the seeds of Islamic culture.�121 An additional tale involved Umar bin al-Khattab, who saw an elderly Jew begging due to his poverty, and told him: We did not do you justice, we took the head tax from you when you were young and abandoned you now that you are old. So he (Umar) ordered that money from the Muslims� treasury (Bait al-Mal) be transferred to him and those in similar condition.122
  • Objectively, the Balfour Declaration (depicted in negative terms in other places)123 and the Jewish minority in Europe were each mentioned once.124



  • The Palestinian textbooks for fifth and tenth grade, published in the 2004-2005 school year, written before Arafat�s death, do not herald a change in the hostile policy of the Palestinian Education Ministry towards Israel, and no significant attempt was found even for limited corrections. The problematic issues in previous years� books were also found in these textbooks, most prominent among those being the non-recognition of Israel as a sovereign state with a right to exist.
  • A number of subjects made their first appearance in the curriculum this year, and while their level of animosity varies, they express a negative attitude towards Israel and everything about it. The inclusion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in one of the textbooks and the ignoring of the Holocaust are in complete contradiction to the relationship that is supposed to exist between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and to international norms in general.
  • Significantly elaborated this year (2004-2005) were negative issues in the Palestinians� view, such as the Israeli settlements, robbing Palestinian water by Israel, and the Security Fence built by Israel. The improvements and positive references to Israel and everything about it are still few in comparison to the continuing and new negative themes of the curriculum.
  • The examined textbooks� contents verify the validity of what was found in the examination of books from previous years. The books� contents reveal that the Palestinian Education Ministry educates its students to hate Israel and to aspire for Israel�s disappearance from the region, choosing the violent struggle and the demand for refugees� return to the places they left as legitimate means to fulfill this aspiration.


Appendix A

Examples from the textbooks

Example no. 1

Indication of the regions of British, French, German, Russian, and American imperialism worldwide. Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq are included in the British imperialism region.


Example no. 2

The cover page of History of the New, Modern World, a tenth-grade textbook

The inner cover page of History of the New, Modern World, detailing those responsible for composing the book and monitoring its contents

The foreword of the tenth-grade textbooks











A paragraph in the foreword extends thanks to international institutions and organizations, and to Arab and friendly countries that took part in financing the curricular project. Within this context, special thanks are extended to the government of Belgium (the only country mentioned by name).


The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

�A number of secret decisions were passed at the [Zionist] congress, and became known as the Protocols of the Sages of Zion, whose purpose was to take over the world. They [the Protocols] were exposed by Sergey Nilus and translated into Arabic by Muhammad Khalifa al-Tunisi.�125
History of the New, Modern World, tenth-grade textbook, p. 63.


Another edition of the book, from which the paragraph on the �Protocols of the Elders of Zion� was removed


Example no. 3

Due to its great fertility and proximity to Europe, Palestine was the target �of the covetous�. �The issue of water had particular importance in the Zionist idea, and they began addressing it while bringing in the first Jewish settlers to Palestine and attempting to settle them in areas with plentiful sources of water, such as the coastal plain, the Galilee, and the Tiberias region.�
Health and Environment Science, tenth-grade textbook, p. 124.


Example no. 4

Example no. 5

�When Pharaoh persisted with his heresy and refusal, Allah ordered Moses and those with him to leave Egypt at nighttime��

Islamic Education, Vol. 2, fifth-grade textbook, p. 54.


�Pharaoh gathered his army and began pursuing Moses and those with him, until Moses, peace be upon him, reached the sea, and he and those with him felt the danger for the sea was in front of them and the enemy behind�what shall they do?�


Pharaoh and his people pursuing Moses, peace be upon him, and his peo

Example no. 6


Example no. 7

A physical map of Egypt with an indication of its bordering countries: Palestine, Jordan, Libya, and Sudan. Israel is not mentioned and the name of Palestine is written on the territories of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
History of Ancient Civilizations, fifth-grade textbook, p. 53.


Example no. 8

Example no. 9

The map features Palestine and even the cities of Jerusalem and Gaza, but not Israel. The pretext for not mentioning Israel is the title: �Political map of the Arab homeland�.
Physical Geography, fifth-grade textbook, p. 61.


Example no. 10

Although the Green Line is indicated on the map, it is titled the �Map of Palestine�. Israel is not mentioned and the entire territory is colored in green, separating it from the other countries (Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt) colored in yellow.
Physical Geography, fifth-grade textbook, p. 63.


Example no. 11


Example no. 12

Appendix B

List of the textbooks reviewed

Fifth grade

1. Al-Jughrafiyya al-Tabi�iyya (Physical Geography)

2. Al-�Ulum al-�Amma (General Science), Vol. 1

3. Al-�Ulum al-�Amma (General Science), Vol. 2

4. Al-Funun wal-Hiraf (Arts and Crafts)

5. Al-Riyadiyyat (Mathematics), Vol. 1

6. Al-Riyadiyyat (Mathematics), Vol. 2

7. Al-Tarbiya al-Islamiyya (Islamic Education), Vol. 1

8. Al-Tarbiya al-Islamiyya (Islamic Education), Vol. 2

9. Al-Tarbiya al-Madaniyya (Civil Education)

10. Al-Tarbiya al-Wataniyya (National Education)

11. Kurrasat al-Khatt al-�Arabi (Arabic Script Notebook)

12. Lughatuna al-Jamila (Our Beautiful Language), Vol. 1

13. Lughatuna al-Jamila (Our Beautiful Language), Vol. 2

14. Tarikh al-Hadarat al-Qadima (History of Ancient Civilizations)


Tenth grade

15. Al-Iqtisad al-Manzili (Home Economy)

16. Al-Mutala�a wal-Nusus (Studies and Texts), Vol. 1

17. Al-Mutala�a wal-Nusus (Studies and Texts), Vol. 2

18. Al-�Ulum al-Lughawiyya (Language Science)

19. Al-�Ulum al-�Amma (General Science), Vol. 2

20. Al-Riyadiyyat (Mathematics), Vol. 1

21. Al-Riyadiyyat (Mathematics), Vol. 2

22. Al-Tiknulujiyya (Technology)

23. Al-Tilawa wal-Tajwid (Recitation and Proper Reading [of the Quran])  

24. Al-Thaqafa al-Tiqniyya (Technical Education)  

25. Al-Tarbiya al-Islamiyya (Islamic Education), Vol. 1  

26. Al-Tarbiya al-Islamiyya (Islamic Education), Vol. 2  

27. Jughrafiyyat Qarrat al-�Alam (Geography of World Continents)  

28. �Ulum al-Sihha wal-Bi�a (Health and Environment Science)  

29. Tarikh al-�Alam al-Hadith wal-Mu�asir (History of the New, Modern World)