JERUSALEM — Textbooks used in Arab schools in east Jerusalem are the same as those used in the Palestinian territories that are full of incitement against Israel, delegitimization of the Jewish state and glorification of suicide bombings, the Knesset education committee heard July 5.
Danny Bar Giora, the new head of the Jerusalem Education Authority, tried to reassure the committee, chaired by MK Zvulun Orlev, that Palestinian Authority textbooks used in east Jerusalem go through rigorous Israeli censorship, and that “all objectionable passages of incitement and de-legitimization are deleted.”
He said this process cost 2 million shekels and involved the re-issue of the books with a stamp of the Jerusalem Municipality on their cover.
Bar Giora was strongly contradicted by Yonatan Manor of the the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education [IMPACT-SE]. Manor said a full review by his organization in May 2007 of PA textbooks used in Jerusalem found that all of the problematic statements/incitement contained in PA textbooks had been left in texts used in east Jerusalem.
Manor said the “only change was that the textbook said it was put out by the Municipality of Jerusalem instead of the PA.”
Also in May 2007, TV reporter Sara Beck filmed classrooms in east Jerusalem for Israel’s Channel Two, and teachers in Arab schools confirmed they were teaching from texts that were identical to books used throughout the PA educational system.
David Bedein of the Center for Near East Policy Research recently pointed out that two months ago, when his centre interviewed the PA’s minister of education, Lamis Alami, she confirmed that PA textbooks in Ramallah and Jerusalem are “precisely the same.”
The Israel Ministry of Education is in charge of overseeing Arab education in east Jerusalem. MK Ronit Tirosh, of the Kadima party, the former head of the Education Ministry who is now on the Knesset education committee, said this issue has “fallen through the cracks.”
The use of PA schoolbooks in east Jerusalem began at the initiative of then-mayor Ehud Olmert in 2001. Before that, textbooks from Jordan were used in east Jerusalem but underwent stringent rewriting to delete anti-Semitic passages.
Bar Giora urged the committee to pursue a full review of the matter.
MK Eliezer Moses, of the Agudat Israel party, said that Israel, in effect, has been funding “incitement by paying for the teachers in Jerusalem to teach textbooks which incite against and deny the existence of Israel.”
Orlev said he will be writing to the Belgian parliament, since Belgium is one of the funders of PA texts, to raise the issue of incitement and to ask it to review the texts and make changes.
Alon Aviator, a high-ranking Israel Defence Forces education officer, confirmed that all textbooks in Palestinian areas under Israel’s control are the same as those in areas under PA control, and that it’s not the IDF’s responsibility to change them without government orders.
Manor added that, despite the existence of peace agreements, his institute found that Egyptian and Jordanian schoolbooks also de-legitimize Israel.
Countries that have funded the publication of the Palestinian textbooks are Belgium, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Ireland.