Peace ed­u­ca­tion

Jerusalem Post - - COMMENT & FEATURES -

Sur­veys car­ried out over the past few decades by re­spected Pales­tinian re­search in­sti­tutes, as well as by international bod­ies such as the Pew Re­search Cen­ter and the Arab Barom­e­ter ini­tia­tive, have con­sis­tently found Pales­tini­ans to hold big­oted and highly neg­a­tive opin­ions of Is­rael and Is­raelis.

In nearly ev­ery sin­gle opin­ion poll that has been con­ducted among Pales­tini­ans, well over half sur­veyed have con­sis­tently ex­pressed the opin­ion that Is­rael’s as­pi­ra­tion is to ex­tend its borders to cover all the area be­tween the Jor­dan River and the Mediter­ranean Sea and to ex­pel its Arab cit­i­zens.

Pales­tini­ans also think Jews have no his­tor­i­cal roots in what they re­fer to as Pales­tine.

In 2011, the Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal consultant Stan­ley Green­berg com­mis­sioned a sur­vey of Pales­tinian opin­ions on be­half of the Is­rael Project. Sev­enty-two per­cent de­clared it morally right to deny that “Jews have a long his­tory in Jerusalem go­ing back thou­sands of years,” while 90% said deny­ing that Pales­tini­ans have “a long his­tory in Jerusalem go­ing back thou­sands of years” is morally wrong.

Sim­i­larly, in a 2015 sur­vey com­mis­sioned for the Wash­ing­ton In­sti­tute for Near East Pol­icy by David Pol­lock, field­work­ers from the Pales­tinian Cen­ter for Pub­lic Opin­ion asked res­i­dents of the West Bank and Gaza about Jewish rights to the land. Only 12 per­cent agreed that “Both Jews and Pales­tini­ans have rights to the land,” while more than 80 per­cent as­serted that, “This is Pales­tinian land and Jews have no rights to it.”

These find­ings and oth­ers were com­piled in a com­pre­hen­sive es­say by Daniel Polisar en­ti­tled “What do Pales­tini­ans Want?” that ap­peared in the Novem­ber 2015 edi­tion of the on­line mag­a­zine Mo­saic.

Why is it that Pales­tini­ans hold such slanted opin­ions about Is­rael and Is­raelis? At least part of the an­swer lies in the ed­u­ca­tional mes­sages taught to Pales­tinian chil­dren from a very young age, even at in­sti­tu­tions be­long­ing to the more “mod­er­ate” Pales­tinian lead­er­ship.

Dele­git­imiza­tion of Is­rael and the Jewish na­tional move­ment; the pre­sen­ta­tion of Is­rael as an evil en­tity that needs to be erad­i­cated; the dele­tion of Is­rael from maps of the re­gion be­tween the Jor­dan River and the Mediter­ranean Sea; the fos­ter­ing of a cul­ture of mar­tyr­dom. These are some of the ed­u­ca­tional mes­sages be­ing con­veyed to Pales­tinian school­child­ren in the of­fi­cial Pales­tinian Author­ity school sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to a study by Im­pact-SE, a re­search cen­ter based in Jerusalem that an­a­lyzes ed­u­ca­tion around the world based on stan­dards set by UNESCO, as re­ported Mon­day by Ariel Ben Solomon, The Jerusalem Post’s Arab Af­fairs cor­re­spon­dent.

The fol­low­ing Ha­dith ap­pears in a text­book presently used in the 11th grade by PA schools for Sharia Stud­ies:

“The Mes­sen­ger [Muham­mad] al­ready an­nounced [the good news of] the end of the Jews’ op­pres­sion upon this Holy Land and the re­moval of their cor­rup­tion and of their oc­cu­pa­tion thereof...The End of Days will not take place un­til the Mus­lims fight the Jews, and the Mus­lims will kill them to a point that a Jew will hide be­hind a rock or a tree, and then the rock or the tree will say: ‘O Mus­lim, O God’s ser­vant, there is a Jew be­hind me, so come and kill him...”

A seventh-grade text­book, Our Beau­ti­ful Lan­guage, refers to the pre-1967 Is­rael as “oc­cu­pied” and talks of the “re­turn” of Pales­tini­ans to this ter­ri­tory. An eighth-grade text­book, Read­ing and Texts, en­cour­ages stu­dents to wage ji­had: “Oh brother, the op­pres­sors have ex­ceeded all bounds and ji­had and sac­ri­fice are nec­es­sary.”

Is­rael still does not ap­pear on text­book maps (with one ex­cep­tion) and the “Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion” is reg­u­larly used to re­fer to ar­eas in­side the Green Line such as Yaffo and Haifa.

It should come as no sur­prise, there­fore, that opin­ion polls con­sis­tently re­veal Pales­tini­ans’ deep prej­u­dices against Jews. Taught from a young age that Jews are op­pres­sors, colo­nial­ists with no his­tor­i­cal ties to the land and ex­pan­sion­ists that seek to ex­pel the Arab pop­u­la­tion, it is only nat­u­ral that Pales­tini­ans will have neg­a­tive opin­ions about them.

Is­raeli in­tran­si­gence, mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion and set­tle­ment pol­icy are of­ten touted as the main ob­sta­cles to reach­ing peace. How­ever, as long as the Pales­tinian ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem per­pet­u­ates ha­tred of Jews and re­jects the con­cept of an Is­raeli state within any borders, it is dif­fi­cult to be­lieve that the next gen­er­a­tion of Pales­tini­ans will be any more pre­dis­posed to peace than the generations that have pre­ceded it.

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