By: Dr. Arnon Groiss
The Study’s Main Points
The purpose of this study is checking the attitude to Israel, the Jews and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as reflected in the teachers’ guides, namely, books issued by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education in order to guide the teachers how to teach various school subjects. The study was written by Dr. Arnon Groiss who has been researching since 2000 the attitude to the “other” and to peace in various Middle Eastern curricula and has authored many reports on this issue. The study was initiated by the Center for Near East Policy Research headed by David Bedein and has been added to the series of publications on Palestinian schoolbooks issued by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) The present study found again that the fundamental elements in the teachers’ guides were: delegitimization of the State of Israel, demonization of both Israel and the Jews, call for a violent struggle for the liberation of Palestine and the absence of any attempt to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict peacefully. These fundamental elements had already appeared in previous studies of the Palestinian schoolbooks that were done by various researchers and bodies (and see below).
- This study is the last one in a series of studies done in the framework of a wider project that began in 2015 and aimed at checking the attitude of Palestinian Authority’s curriculum to the Jewish-Israeli “other” within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the possibility of solving the conflict peacefully. The former three studies covered 364 schoolbooks of all grades in various subjects that were published between the years 2013-2018. The present study too deals with this subject, but from a different angle – that of the instructions given to the Palestinian teachers by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education. This study is based on 109 teachers’ guides published by the Ministry of Education between the years 2016-2018.
- While students’ schoolbooks reveal the components of the worldview and values a society would wish to instill in the younger generation, teachers’ guides usually deal with the manner of inculcating this worldview in the students’ minds. Thus, the present study enables us to trace what could be described as the process of indoctrination among the students, as designed by the Palestinian Authority, which exists in all schools, including UNRWA’s ones (since it uses the Palestinian Authority’s schoolbooks).
- Former studies on the Palestinian schoolbooks have shown that their attitude to Israel and peace is based on three fundamentals: Delegitimization of Israel, its demonization, and encouragement of a violent struggle against it instead of peace education. The present study has investigated these fundamentals using the same methodology followed in the three former studies, that is, bringing the raw information as is, accompanied with a very brief analysis, so that it would speak for itself. The final analysis is being done in the Conclusion chapter of this work.
- Most of the indoctrination material in the teachers’ guides is found in the subjects of Arabic Language and Social Studies. Teachers’ guides in the subjects of National and Islamic Education, as well as those of Sciences and Mathematics and, to a lesser extent, Arts and Crafts, proved to contain less indoctrination material. Teachers’ guides for Physical Education were found absolutely professional, with no trace of political indoctrination. Most indoctrination has been found in grades 7-10.
The main findings of the current study of the Palestinian teachers’ guides gives the following picture:
- Delegitimization of the State of Israel’s existence, and of the Jews’ very presence in the country, on the basis of the Palestinians’ perceived exclusive right to the Land of Israel and the rejection of any right the Jews might have to it; Palestine replaces Israel as the sovereign state in the region, both in texts and on the map; Israel’s pre-1967 territory is presented as an occupied Palestinian territory; the name “Israel” is often replaced by the term “occupation”. Israel’s Jewish citizens are considered colonialist settlers and Israeli cities – including Tel Aviv – do not appear on the map, or are given Arabic names. The Jews’ history in the country is denied, as well as the existence of their holy places there. The Jews’ traditional ties to their ancient homeland are dubbed “greedy ambitions”. The PA’s maps serve the vision of one Palestine from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan, where Israel does not exist, in sharp contrast to the solution appearing in the Palestinian Authority’s statements regarding the establishment of an independent state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Map of Israel in a teacher’s guide of National and Life Education, grade 2, 2016. The map shows Palestinian cities or mixed Palestinian-Jewish cities. It does not show cities built by Jews in the modern era, such as Tel Aviv, Rishon le-Zion, Netanya or Rehovot. The city of Jaffa appears instead of Tel Aviv.
- Demonization of the State of Israel and the Jews. Both are depicted as aggressive, barbaric, full of hate and harboring genocidal intentions, thus constituting an existential threat to the Palestinians. Derogatory terms such as “the Zionist gangs” and hateful language are used in their description and cases of de-humanization have also been found. Israel is described as the source of all evil and as the party solely responsible for the conflict, while the Palestinians are presented as its ultimate victim. Jews are demonized as well in the religious context, outside the context of the conflict. They are depicted as a corrupted nation from its very beginning and as enemies of Islam since its early days. Following are two examples:
Demonization of settlers
- In a student’s mathematics textbook for grade 11 (2017) one can find a question in statistics:
- A settler shoots at [Palestinian] cars passing 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 would you expect to be the number of cars that were hit? (The answer in the corresponding teacher’s guide is: 7)
Repeating the false accusation that Israel strives to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque in a grade-10 teacher’s guide of geography and history (2018)
- “What are the reasons for the digging pf tunnels underneath Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Zionist Occupation?
- We all know the extent of the Zionist’s conspiracy and grudge against Al-Aqsa Mosque and their attempt to liquidate and destroy it by various means. They sometimes resort to burning it down and in other times they act to convince the whole world that the area called the Dome of the Rock Mosque – which is part of Al-Aqsa Mosque – is the actual Al-Aqsa Mosque, so that our attention would concentrate on its defense alone, rather than the mosque’s other parts. Now, they are continuing their excavations underneath Al-Aqsa Mosque claiming that they are looking for their false temple.”
- Call for a violent struggle for liberation instead of education to peaceful resolution of the conflict. Peace and coexistence with Israel are not an option. The violent struggle is not restricted to the West Bank and Gaza but encompasses Israel’s entire territory. It is given a religious character by emphasizing the need to liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque, the very existence of which is said to be endangered. Islamic traditional ideals – Jihad and martyrdom – are exalted and given a special role within the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Terrorist activity constitutes part and parcel of the Palestinian struggle: A well-known female terrorist, Dalal al-Mughrabi, a member of al-Fatah terrorist squad that perpetrated a massacre of Israeli civilians on Israel’s Coastal Highway in 1978, is elevated to a position of a national heroine, equal in status to Yasser Arafat and to Aishah, Prophet Muhammad’s revered wife. The “right of return” claimed by the descendants of the 1948 refugees is made as well part and parcel of the liberation violent struggle, as they are supposed to return to their former places of residence in “liberated Palestine” rather than to Israel that will no longer exist.
Dalal al-Mughrabi is placed in the first row of Palestinian leadership, alongside Yasser Arafat and Ahmad Shuqeiri – first chairman of the PLO (Teacher’s Guide, Geography and Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, Grade 10, 2018)
A poem titled “The Land of the Noble Ones” in a grade-3 student’s Arabic textbook (2017): “I shall sacrifice my blood in order to water the land of the noble ones; to expel the usurper (Israel) and to exterminate the foreigners’ defeated remnants.” The teacher’s guide for this grade reveals that this poem has a melody and the students sing it in class.
- The teachers’ guides contain the methodology by which these fundamentals are being inculcated in the minds of the Palestinian youngsters. They raise points and reiterate them again and again in different forms – assertions, questions, answers and assignments. A subject is fractured into minute details in order to cover it fully. The teachers’ guides also encourage non-curricular activities such as dramatic and journalistic ones. Derogatory expressions and hateful language are used for the description of the Jewish-Israeli “other”. A special effort is made in order to bring the conflict closer to the students by providing stories with children’s involvement, such as confrontations with Israeli soldiers, or arrest of children’s relatives. The teachers are told to encourage their students to express their feelings vis-à-vis the demonizing descriptions appearing in stories that are studied in class.
The present study of the Palestinian schoolbooks, as well as its predecessors, reveals a gloomy picture. The curriculum’s part that deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is built on war – not on peace and coexistence – and delegitimization and demonization are its main pillars. Israel is presented as the source of the Palestinians’ disaster and, therefore, it should be destroyed. This way, the Palestinian educators impose on their students a future of hatred, with no hope, and an eternal struggle that undoubtedly will bring pain and suffering for years to come.
- It is possible to discern in the teachers’ guides the various methods of manipulation done on the students, so that they would be educated along a pre-designed line of getting one-sided information, internalizing it and developing the “proper” feelings around it. Thus, the students are made into a blind tool in the hands of the Palestinian Authority’s educational system. All that – without self-criticism, with no attempt to search for other sources of information that would raise questions, lead to deeper understanding and, practically, build a healthily-thinking person who would contribute to his or her society’s wellbeing. A whole generation is thus being lost.
- The Palestinian Authority that has existed for over 25 years, is the main body responsible for this situation. But non-Palestinian players share its responsibility to a great extent. Chief among these players is UNRWA, which uses the Palestinian Authority’s educational material in its schools in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with no attempt on its part to remain committed to the UN standards as far as peace education and the UN’s manifested goal of solving the Middle East conflict are concerned. This way, UNRWA’s educational system and the donor nations supporting it, contribute to the perpetuation of the conflict.
President Trump’s plan (“the Deal of the Century”) calls for the promotion of “a culture of peace” that would constitute an important component of any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. According to that plan, the creation of a culture of peace should unclude the cessation of incitement and an end to the exaltation of violence and terror. It should also “prohibit hostile propaganda, as well as textbooks, curriculum and related materials contrary to the goal of the Israeli-Palestinian Agreement, including the denial of the other’s right to exist” (Section Eighteen, “Education and Culture of Peace”, whitehouse.gov, 28 January, 2020). The analysis of the contents appearing in the Palestinian schoolbooks and teachers’ guides clearly indicates that the Palestinian Authority is instilling in the minds of the Palestinian younger generation “a culture of hate” and “a culture of struggle” against Israel, that will be very difficult to uproot.
Additional Publications on the Palestinian Schoolbooks Issued by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC)
- An examination of Palestinian fifth and tenth-grade textbooks for the 2004-2005 school year – by Noa Meridor (March 7, 2006)
- About the Report of the Mideast Freedom Forum Study of Palestinian Authority Textbooks By Brigadier General (Ret.) Amos Gilboa (April 20, 2016)
- Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority (PA): The Attitude to the Jews, to Israel and to Peace (December 26, 2017)
- Palestinian Authority textbooks: the attitude to Jews, Israel and peace (Update, June 2018)– by Dr. Arnon Groiss (June 2018)
- Jews, Israel and Peace In the 2017/18 Palestinian Authority Schoolbooks for Grades 11 and 12: A Complementary Study– by Dr. Arnon Groiss (October 11, 2018)
- The Nakbah
- The Refugee Problem
- Palestine Replaces Israel as the Sovereign State in the Region
- Pre-1967 Israel is Considered an Occupied Palestinian Territory to be Liberated
- An Attempt to Refute the Zionist Narrative
- Delegitimization of the Jews’ Presence in the Country
- General Demonization and De-humanization
- Sporadic Killings
- Occupation of the West Bank
- The Occupation’s Crimes against Children
- Limitation of the Palestinians’ Free Movement
- Actions against Palestinian Settlements
- Maltreatment of the “Prisoners-of-War” and their Family Members
- Causing Damage to Palestinian Environment
- Chemical Aggression
- Oppression of Gaza’s Fishermen
- Other Fields of Demonization
- Demonization of Jews
- Peace vs. a Violent Struggle for Liberation:
- Total Liberation of Occupied Palestine
- The Return of the Refugees’ Descendants
- The “Prisoners-of-War”
- Extermination of Israeli Jews after the Removal of Israel
- Non-Violent Struggle
- List of Sources
- The Author
 The Coastal Highway terrorist action took place on March 11, 1978 by 11 Fatah terrorists who arrived from Lebanon on rubber boats. They commandeered a civilian bus full of passengers and forced the driver to go in the direction of Tel Aviv while shooting in and around the bus. The police managed to stop the bus north of Tel Aviv and shooting erupted between them and the terrorists who eventually blew the bus up with explosives. 37 Israelis were murdered and 71 were wounded.