Education Or Indoctrination?

Israel tends to repeat the mantra that the Palestinians are being educated to hate the “Zionist entity” and Jews. The evidence usually presented is the school text books that supposedly incite against Israel. With new school text books on the shelf, Akiva Eldar shows a different picture of things:

“Quotations attributed by earlier CMIP reports to the Palestinian textbooks,” says a Middle East Working Group of the EU, “are not found in the new PA schoolbooks funded by some EU member states; some were traced to the old Egyptian and Jordanian textbooks that they are replacing, … and others [were] not traced at all.” Moreover, the EU study finds that many of the quotations “have been found to be often badly translated or quoted out of context, thus suggesting an anti-Jewish bias or incitement that the books do not contain … New textbooks, though not perfect, are free of inciteful content … constituting a valuable contribution to the education of young Palestinians.”

[…] Prof. Nathan Brown, from George Washington University, a former adviser to the U.S. Agency for International Development, noted an odd phenomenon in his study of the Palestinian curriculum (November 2001). He found that even though the PA’s National Education books for grades 1-6 were “devoid of any anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli material,” Israel “allowed the offensive Jordanian books to be used in the East Jerusalem schools but barred the innocuous PA-authored books, probably fearful that use of the PA books would be an implicit recognition of sovereignty.” The office of the government coordinator in the territories says in response that the inflammatory chapters were deleted from the Jordanian books and that the PA restored the original texts.

Of course Israel isn’t happy about the new books; the logic behind the ‘anti-propaganda’ propaganda is that Palestinians shouldn’t have any reason to hate Israel unless they are educated to do so.

I’m interested to know what people think about this article about Israeli incitement in children’s literature. As someone who grew up on the Hasamba and Danidin series, I definitely agree that these books were full of racism against Arabs. But as in the case of Palestinian textbooks I would like to know if anyone has some knowledge of more recent children’s books and the way they deal with Arabs and muslims.

7 thoughts on “Education Or Indoctrination?

  1. First, I think it’s dishonest to equate Israeli and Palestinian authority ANYTHING, let alone school textbooks. It’s like taking Alberta’s neonazi teacher Kiegstra as an representative of all Canadian teachers and then comparing him to American teachers. Besides that, it is clear that some minority Israeli schools/textbooks/teachers may harbour anti-Arab sentiments (particularly the ultra-Orthodox) but this is by NO means widespread, common or government-sanctioned like it is in the PA. This is made obviously clear when surveying Israeli public opinion which ranges from adamantly Pro-Yesha to Pro-Kalkiliyah and beyond. This range is nowhere amongst Palestinians. There is no freedom of expression, press, speech there and there is no doubting that the government, schools, universities, summer camps, television, radio and MOSQUES directly teach hatred towards Jews, incitement to kill Jews (Israelis tend to be referred to as simply Jews) and that Israel proper does not desrve to exist in any hands other than their own. IMRA and MEMRI do great job of following such activity in the Arab world.
    Recently, there has been an INCREASE in the amount of such propaganda on children’s televsion in the PA. SEE http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=22066 for the actual VIDEOS
    THERE is NO SUCH thing on Israeli television. Although, there may be certain biases present in Israeli textbooks, and those are not acceptable, it is in no way endorsed or promoted or developed for the purpose of inciting hatred against Arabs. In fact, it tends to fall under the auspices of the democratic nature which Israel lives by. Listen to the anti-Israel sentiments spewed by some (not all) Arab Knesset members.
    Israeli children’s books are some of the most pluralistic in the world often showing Arabs, Christians, Jews, handicapped children, children with glasses and braces, poor and rich children, children of same-sex couples playing together.
    How could you believe for a minute that Israel is sad to hear of the improvements to PA textbooks? Are you insane? Do Israelis want a more generations of murderous suicice bombers in there streets?
    The problem lies in textbooks, televions, radio, newspapers, home enviroments, universities (SEE this photo of the first day back at class in Al Najah University in Nablus: http://tinylink.com/?z7GkvaNkTu ), summer terror training camps, streets (SEE this picture of children and a TERRORIST planting bombs: http://tinylink.com/?c1yE5A9BNF ), mosques, madressas, etc.
    Remember the notorious faked document The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Well, in case you forgot Egypt is presenting a 30-part series on TV. Incitement to hatred amongst Arabs? Yes.

  2. I’m interested to know what people think about this article about Israeli incitement in children’s literature.
    The article is about textbooks, not just about children’s literature. I think that, of the two, the textbooks are a much more important issue: both are of interest, but only one involves the state’s okay — except to the extent they are themselves used as textbooks, the other involves the state’s lack of censorshop.
    What I think of the article? Well, it makes me think that one of three things must be true:
    (1) it is lying;
    (2) it is exaggerating by focusing on the worst examples — pushing a point of view rather than honest analysis, in which case I wish it would say that;
    (3) it is neither lying nor exaggering, and Israel is therefore a hotbed of seething, state-led racism which causes Israeli Jews to hate their fellow Arab citizens as well as Arabs from other countries.
    I suspect (2) is closest to the truth. Asaf is implying that (3) is in fact the case, but this seems unlikely — unless all the Israelis I have ever talked to, whether in Israel and abroad, are simply anomalies.
    Which forces me to concur with some of the posters above. Obviously minority representations are a problem in Israel, as in other countries. But the 1999 article Asaf links to doesn’t seem like it is concerned with accurately assessing the state of those problems, nor with fixing them. It seems more concerned with trying to portray a kind of parallelism: Palestine’s bad? Israel’s just as bad!
    I doubt that that is true.
    Bar-Tal concluded that Israeli textbooks present the view that Jews are involved in a justified, even humanitarian, war against an Arab enemy that refuses to accept and acknowledge the existence and rights of Jews in Israel.
    That’s the best smoking gun that Washington Report could come up with back in 1999? Now I’m just plain unimpressed: that is hardly an anomalous example of how states represent their histories. It’s not exactly fantastic, but it hardly serves to portray Israel as criminal, illegitimate, or otherwise monstrous in the way the article is obviously trying to do.

  3. god never calls us to justify ourselves, but rather to improve even the slightest defect. if even one line of that article is true, then there’s something to improve on. “they started it” isn’t good enough for us. we are the chosen people and we are held to higher standards.

  4. god never calls us to justify ourselves, but rather to improve even the slightest defect.
    Indeed. (Well, about the self-improvement part, not about the what-God-wants part, something about which I really have no insider knowledge.) That’s why I wrote: “the 1999 article Asaf links to doesn’t seem like it is concerned with accurately assessing the state of those problems, nor with fixing them. It seems more concerned with trying to portray a kind of parallelism”.
    “they started it” isn’t good enough for us. Er, that’s not at issue here. we are the chosen people and we are held to higher standards. No need for chauvinism here — we were chosen to fulfill specific obligations, not because we are somehow more moral or upright than the rest of the world. We should meet those obligations, and Israel has lots of improvement it needs to do.
    But the Washington Report isn’t about that, and its regular attempts to delegitimate Israel — built on an implicit holding of Israel to quite different standards than other states — is neither designed nor likely to help anyone improve anything.
    As to whether Israel should be held to a different standard than other states by the world community: certainly not; to imply that it should be is a (1) racist interpretation that (2) views Israel as a theocracy. As Jews, we can hope that those who administer Israel will meet Jewish ethical standards in addition to international-legal ones. As to the very different question of whether it is acceptable to “disqualify” Israel from the international community, on the other hand — that is to decide that international law should not treat countries equally.

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