Former Democratic Senator John Kerry will be returning to Israel this week for the seventh time this year. The Secretary of State’s efforts at shuttle diplomacy will hopefully earn President Barack Obama some brownie points at a time when the Middle East is in an uproar. The clock is ticking on Iran, Syrian streets run red with blood, and the Egyptian people have thrown over Obama’s favored son: Muhammed Morsi.
So it seems natural to want to look for some glory somewhere. But just what are the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA)—real peace? Can these two countries even dream of a cold peace such as that which exists between Egypt and Israel? Or better still, a real peace such as that which exists between Canada and the United States?
As the communications writer at Kars4Kids
, a nonprofit car donation organization that underwrites educational initiatives for children, I believe the answer might be found in the classroom. Unfortunately, even a cursory examination of PA primary and high school textbooks might lead the observer to despair about the prospects of peace. PA textbooks teach PA children to hate their Israeli counterparts. Moreover, the texts incite to violence.
I write about such education-related topics as right-handed bias
in classrooms and how the single gender classrooms
can help girls dare to take “male” subjects in school. I see children as more than blank slates. I see them as moldable blank slates.
Profoundly Poisons Minds
At a 2007 press conference, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that
, “These textbooks do not give Palestinian children an education; they give them an indoctrination . . . It is disturbing on a human level, it is disturbing to me as a mother, it is disturbing to me as a United States Senator, because it basically, profoundly poisons the minds of these children.”
The brain is plastic. It grows and changes. That means that when a Palestinian child reads a reference in his classroom textbook to “invading snakes” taking over the land, his brain adapts to and absorbs this information. He learns to see Israel as an invader and Israelis as snakes and the ideas take hold in his brain as new synapses.
There is no lesson in critical thinking here. There is no presentation of the other side. No balance.
No Opposite Viewpoint
The Palestinian child doesn’t learn about the 669 references to Jerusalem in Jewish religious texts or the thousands of years’ history of the Jews in the Holy Land. His schoolbook texts don’t attempt an explanation of or a refutation of the Israeli narrative. Rather the texts omit any mention of a credible opposing narrative, altogether.
David Bedein, Bureau Chief for the Israel Resource News Agency
, recently explained to a group of British government officials responsible for funding UNRWA
that children in PA schools are duped by the education they receive. “In the Palestinian schools which are run in the UN refugee camps, children are taught that their life’s ambition must be to grow up to live in the homes that their grandparents left in 1949. And the entire education system is based on that: pictures, tournaments, songs, poems, everything is based on that,” said Bedein
Bedein, a former liason for the Israel Association of Social Workers, pointed out that it may be inappropriate to teach children goals they cannot achieve.
No Right To Exist
Founder and director of Palestine Media Watch (PMW
Marcus explains, “According to Palestinian textbooks, Israel has no right to exist, and Israel’s national narrative is one of occupation, massacre, torture and land stealing,” he said. “They teach that all of the land—including land on which Israel established its state in 1948—is occupied. This is a pattern that all but guarantees that the two sides will be unable to make peace in the near future.”
Meantime, the indoctrination in the classroom continues unabated even outside the classroom. A photo of Adolf Hitler
figured large on one PA school’s Facebook page with a quote explaining that he left a minority of Jews alive, “so that you would know why I killed them.”
As recently as August 10, the Israeli Prime Minister sent the Secretary of State a letter
, concerned about ongoing PA incitement of youth, even as Israeli efforts to return to the negotiation table continue. “Incitement and peace don’t go together,” wrote Premier Binyamin
Education Of Hate
“Instead of educating the next generation of Palestinians to live in peace with Israel, the education of hate poisons them against Israel and lays the groundwork for continued violence and terror,” he wrote.
Meantime, within the past two weeks, a PA television broadcast aimed at children legitimized violence against the Jews of Judea and Samaria, who were depicted as bloodthirsty thieves. Arabs are the “victors” in this program, glorified as heroes for humiliating religious Jews by cutting off their side-curls. The scene reminds one of nothing so much as a piece of Nazi final solution propaganda.
PA television programming and PA textbooks are funded by the EU, the U.S. and even by Israel; the last as part of the Jewish State’s wholehearted attempt to make peace with a persistent enemy. The prospects for peace however—cold, real, or imagined—at least for this generation and the next—seem slim to none.
Varda Meyers Epstein writes about current educational issues in her capacity as a communications writer and blogger at the nonprofit organization Kars4Kids.