The Jerusalem Post
For peace, put your money where your mouth is
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict exists to the detriment of both sides. While peace with our neighbors has always been the goal, this does not stop mistrust and, in some cases, hate, from being directed at the other side. Toward the end of high school, Israeli children discuss not which university they want to get into, but which unit in the army. This is a sad reality that has plagued Israeli society since before its founding.
The consequences of the conflict are felt no less in the West Bank or Gaza where, heartbreakingly, the presence of Israeli security forces is both traumatizing and necessary. Since Israel built its security wall as a needed response to the fervent wave of Palestinian terrorism in the Second Intifada, innocent Palestinians have paid the price. The world acknowledges the hardships both sides live with as a result of the conflict, and routinely call for a peaceful, long-term solution. What they ignore, however, is the role the school curriculum – that they fund and that indoctrinates Palestinian children to hate and violently resist the “Jewish Zionist Occupation” – plays in serving as one of the largest obstacles to peace.
An unpublished report by the European Union analyzed more than 150 textbooks and teacher’s guides used from 2017-2020. The findings shed light on tropes commonplace within Palestinian curriculum, such as the glorification of terrorists and promotion of blatant antisemitism. For example, the report found “a conscious perpetuation of anti-Jewish prejudice, especially when embedded in the current political context.”
In another example, Dalal al-Mughrabi, a Palestinian woman who was involved in a 1978 bus hijacking that resulted in the murder of 38 Israelis, 13 of whom were children, is repeatedly portrayed as a prime example of female empowerment. It is important to note that these textbooks were created and are being taught by educators whose salaries are funded directly by the EU. Sadly, these are far from the only example of this type of hate-filled education that is funded by the West.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which was specifically commissioned to solve the Palestinian refugee crisis, serves now only to perpetuate it through publishing its own education materials that casually erase Israel from its maps and routinely praise terrorism.
UNRWA’S DONORS, which in the past have primarily been EU member states, not only enable this type of harmful education but encourage it through their funding. While the administration of US President Joe Biden does plan on resuming agency funding of around $250 million, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has recently confirmed that the transferring of this aid will be contingent on educational reform. While this is a good step, it is doubtful to result in change while the rest of the world continues to fund the organization without regard to what it teaches Palestinian children.
Some other examples are even more horrifying. An internationally funded kindergarten in Gaza holds a simulation approximately every year in which its five-year-olds dress up as terrorists from the Palestinian Islamist Jihad terrorist organization. The children pretend to kidnap and murder an Israeli soldier and Jewish Israeli civilian to the applause of an audience made up of parents, school faculty and others.
How can Israelis and Palestinians create peace when this is what’s being taught? The problem, however, reaches beyond the educational system. Terrorists are glorified on a societal level, with schools, streets and sports fields often named after the most successful shahids (“martyrs”). The Palestinian Authority’s “pay-for-slay” scheme directly and unabashedly encourages terrorism, just this month paying $42,000 to the family of a terrorist who killed two Israelis and injured the wife and two-year-old child of one of the victims. To illustrate the depth of this, about half of the $693 million the PA received as foreign aid in 2017, some $345 million, was paid as stipends to terrorists and their families. While the PA is the one writing the checks, the world is responsible for stocking its bank accounts. How can the world call for peace yet turn a blind eye to what its funding is supporting?
It should be clear that there is no chance for peace when hate is ubiquitous in the Palestinian education system. It should also be intuitively understood that there is absolutely no incentive for the Palestinians to make these necessary changes when the status quo is being handsomely funded by a myriad of countries, international governmental organizations and NGOs. It is a complete oxymoron to advocate for a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while at the same time funding curricula and policies that promote violence. If the world truly supports peace, then it must put its money where its mouth is.