Israel, Jews and Peace in Palestinian Authority Schoolbooks and Teachers’ Guides

By Dr. Arnon Groiss
Main Findings

This document is aimed at summarizing the contents of the Palestinian Authority’s schoolbooks and teachers’ guides, as far as the conflict with Israel is concerned, from 2013 up to this day. It is based on the examination of close to 400 schoolbooks published between 2013-2020 and over a hundred of teachers’ guides published mostly in 2018 (and see below a list of the Center’s publications that deal with the findings of the examined Palestinian schoolbooks). These schoolbooks are in use in the Palestinian Authority’s territories in Judea and Samaria, in the territories under Hamas’ control in the Gaza Strip, and in most schools in East Jerusalem. Their use is mandatory in all Palestinian private schools and in the schools operated by UNRWA.

  • There are three prominent fundamentals as far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned: De-legitimization of the State of Israel’s existence and the very presence of Jews in the Land of Israel, including the denial of the existence of Jewish holy places in the Land of Israel; demonization of Israel and the Jews: “The Zionist enemy, according to the description appearing in the schoolbooks, is wholly evil and constitutes an existential threat to the Palestinians who are depicted as the ultimate victim, with no shared responsibility for the conflict; and education for a violent struggle for the liberation of the Land of Israel (Palestine) with no education for peace and co-existence. In none of the PA’s schoolbooks has any call for the resolution of the conflict peacefully, or any mentioning of co-existence with Israel been found. The teachers’ guiding manuals that were checked, widen our perspective, as they deal not only with these fundamentals, but also with the actual educational process, and they reveal a variety of methodologies used by the teachers for the indoctrination of the Palestinian younger generation.
  • The study of the schoolbooks’ contents over time has found that there has been an intensification of the said fundamentals since 2016 regarding the conflict with Israel. Following are several examples:
    • The schoolbooks vehemently deny the Jewish past of the Land of Israel and call it “legends”. This is a new argument, as the former schoolbooks included pieces that dealt with Jewish history in the Land of Israel in antiquity. The non-recognition of Jerusalem as a holy city to Jews, however, has been there all along.

“…[The occupier] has built for himself an artificial entity that derives its identity and the legitimacy of its existence from tales, legends and false visions, and has tried through various methods and ways to create live material evidence for these legends, or archaeological and architectural proofs that would confirm their truth and substantiality, but in vain.

(Arabic Language – Academic Path, Grade 10, Part 2 (2019) p. 68)

“Jerusalem is an Arab city built by our Arab ancestors thousands of years ago.
Jerusalem is a holy city to Muslims and Christians.”

(National and Social Upbringing, Grade 3, Part 1 (2019) p. 29)

חל גא 28

  • The name “Israel” has been replaced most of the times by the epithet “the Zionist occupation”. By that, the non-recognition of Israel as a legitimate state has been deepened. Moreover, the struggle against the State of Israel has thus become a struggle against Zionism that is perceived as a mythical and a wholly evil entity, which creates feelings of fear and hatred. Following is an example describing the Rhodes Armistice agreement:

“…The Arab armies withdrew from Palestine and the Rhodes armistice was signed in 1949 separately between the Zionist occupation and each of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon…”(Geography and Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, Grade 10, Part 2 (2019) p. 7)

  • Reference to terror is more explicit in the newer schoolbooks. Terrorist operations perpetrated throughout the years of conflict with Israel are presented as heroic actions in the framework of the “revolution”, “resistance” and “self-sacrifice”. These actions include hijacking of civilian planes, the attack on the Israeli Olympic team in Munich, and the murder of 37 civilians, including 13 children, on Israel’s Coastal Highway under the command of al-Fatah activist Dalal al-Mughrabi (who enjoys a special halo in the Palestinian schoolbooks).

A teacher’s guide clarifies that Dalal al-Mughrabi has earned a higher status than Izz al-Din al-Qassam, the historical source of inspiration for Hamas organization. Following is a text in a grade-5 textbook which mentions Izz al-Din al-Qassam, Dalal al-Mughrabi and Yasser Arafat (marked in red):

  • Insertion of these fundamentals, including the demonization of Israel and the Jews, into technical school subjects and in sciences on a more extensive scale than before:

3. One of the settlers shoots at [Palestinian] cars that pass on one of the roads. If the probability of his hitting a car in one shot is 0.7, and the settler shot at 10 cars, what will you expect to be the number of cars that were hit?”

(Mathematics, Grade 11 [Humanities] (2018) p. 55. In the teacher’s guide for this class, from the same year, the answer appears on p. 162: “7”)

מת הומ יא 55

  • Schoolbooks are specifically important in societies in conflict, because they indicate the narrative the leadership and society strive to instill in the minds of the younger generation. The schoolbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority indicate, then, the essence of the narrative as far as the conflict with Israel is concerned. It is learned from the PA schoolbooks and teachers’ guides that the education of the younger Palestinian generation prepares it consciously for a continuous and long-range confrontation against the State of Israel in order to achieve the final goal, which is the establishment of the State of Palestine that will stretch on the entire territory of the Land of Israel. There is no trace in the schoolbooks of the argumentation disseminated by the Palestinian Authority in the international arena that the Palestinian Authority is committed to “a just peace” based on the two-state solution[1]
"…I will color the map of my homeland with the colors of the Palestinian flag" (National and Life Education, Grade 2, Part 1 (2019) p. 8)      A map of Palestine (Social Studies, Grade 6, Part 1 (2019) p. 57). The Jewish cities in the State of Israel, including Tel Aviv, are absent from the map (Jaffa appears there).
The maps in the PA schoolbooks prove that Palestine stretches throughout the entire territory of the Land of Israel, with no trace of the State of Israel. On the right: A map of Palestine (Social Studies, Grade 6, Part 1 (2019) p. 57). The Jewish cities in the State of Israel, including Tel Aviv, are absent from the map (Jaffa appears there). On the left: “…I will color the map of my homeland with the colors of the Palestinian flag” (National and Life Education, Grade 2, Part 1 (2019) p. 8)
Other publications by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terror Information Center dealing with the Palestinian schoolbooks
  • “Jews, Israel and the Conflict in Teachers’ Guides Issued by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education”, by Dr. Arnon Groiss (February 3, 2010).
  • “The Attitude to Jews, Israel and Peace in the Palestinian Authority’s Schoolbooks for Grade 11, 12 Published in the Years 2017-18”, by Dr. Arnon Groiss (October 11, 2018).
  • “Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority: The Attitude to Jews, Israel and Peace (Completion and update, June 2018)” by Dr. Arnon Groiss.
  • Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority: The Attitude to Jews, Israel and Peace (December 26, 2017)”, by Dr, Arnon Groiss and Dr. Ronni Shaked.
  • “On a research conducted by a German institute on schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority”, by Brigadier-General (ret.) Amos Gilboa (April 20, 2016)
  • “The examination of Palestinian schoolbooks reveals the continued denial of Israel’s right to exist and the fostering of the violent struggle against it”, by Noa Meridor (March 7, 2006).
Dr. Arnon Groiss, Researcher of the Palestinian Schoolbooks
  • Dr. Arnon Groiss is an expert in Middle Eastern affairs holding a Ph.D. degree in this field from Princeton University’s Dept. of Near Eastern Studies, as well as an MPA degree from Harvard University. He is a retired journalist who worked 42 years in the Voice of Israel Arabic radio station, where he acquired additional experience in the field of Middle Eastern affairs. Since 2000, he has studied the attitude to the “other” and to peace in various Middle Eastern curricula and authored many reports dealing with this subject, having examined over a thousand schoolbooks and teachers’ guides. During the last five years Dr. Groiss has focused on the schoolbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority.
  • Dr. Groiss has presented his findings to policy makers at the United Nations, the United States Congress, the European Parliament, the British House of Commons, the French Assemblée nationale, the Canadian and Swedish Parliaments and the Israeli Knesset, as well as to people of the press and at various research institutes.
The Study Construction
  • The study includes three chapters:
    • Chapter One: De-legitimization of Israel’s existence in the Palestinian schoolbooks.
    • Chapter Two: Demonization of the State of Israel and the Jews in the Palestinian schoolbooks.
    • Chapter Three: Education for a violent struggle for the liberation of the Land of Israel (Palestine) in the Palestinian schoolbooks.
  • The two appendices:
    • Appendix A: List of sources quoted in the study.
    • Appendix B: UNESCO principles regarding education for peace and tolerance.

[1] See, for example, the document by the Information Center dated February 17, 2020: "Abu Mazen's speech at the UN Security Council: Rhetoric vis-à-vis Reality".