Israeli School Textbooks Teach Kids To Hate Palestinians.

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I am committed to open people’s hearts and minds towards each other and dedicated to building cohesive societies where every human feels secure about his race, ethnicity, culture, and religion.

My concern is the future generations of the Israelis and Palestinians. Would they be normal human beings or individuals loaded with hate for each other? Would they have the capacity to live with each other and live securely?

Over the years, I have watched the MEF put out videos depicting how the Palestinians teach their children to hate the Israelis. Even their cartoons for kids carry that message. It was depressing to see parents pass on the hate to their children instead of giving them a secure life.

Do we have the responsibility to raise our kids with the ability to be civilized people? Are we criminals to dump our problems onto the next generation? Are we raising men and women who are loaded with hate for each other?

The Israelis and the Palestinians need to rise against any leader who cannot look into the eyes of each other’s children and tell them. “Dear Sons and Daughters, I am not your villain, but I am the leader who will bring peace and security to you guys when you grow up; you can live without tensions. Judge us the politicians, not by inciting against each other that would be your eternal loss, but by how we bring long-term peace and security to you.”

However, it is sad to see the Israelis do the same. I add my own experience in Israel; they have institutionalized hate in Israel.

I am taking you on a bus trip to Jerusalem. There were forty of us, most Americans and a few Europeans, on a Middle East peace initiative by the Universal Peace Foundation.

As the bus started moving, the tour guide came to the public address and said, “Today, I am going to share about Islam. Islam has six pillars, and they are jihad, pledge….”

I let her finish the spill partially, then got up and said, “I am a Muslim, and there are only five pillars in Islam, and jihad is not one of them. Can I explain that to my fellow passengers?” There was a dead pause for a few seconds, and it appeared like an eternity.

The passengers shouted in unison, “Let him.” I explained, and the two Dutch Imams also joined me. She protested, but we insisted that we are Muslims, and we knew the faith and produced her a printout upon return to the hotel. She promised to pass it on to the tourism ministry as they were the ones who approved the script.

Israel grossly misrepresents Islam to its detriment. Of course, the Palestinians do the same. As responsible members of society, we have to learn about one another as we are—the good, bad, and ugly among us.

It was Ramadan, and we were fasting. The passengers asked us to follow the rituals. One of the Imams did call for the prayers (adhan) in the moving bus on the public address system. I translated the adhan, and the bus pulled over for the four of us to pray.

The Palestinian Christian bus driver produced dates and water for us to break the fast. He was the happiest guy on the bus when he proffered the dates to us. It is considered a good deed to offer items for breaking the fast.

We have to stop teaching hate if we want our future generation to be raised as ordinary people. I may take this up with the United Nations.

Mike Ghouse

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a speaker and pluralist committed to building cohesive societies and offering pluralistic solutions to the media and the policy makers

Book review: how Israeli school textbooks teach kids to hate

The following article is courtesy of the

Asa Winstanley

At the height of Israel’s brutal 2008-09 assault on the Gaza Strip, then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni claimed that “Palestinians teach their children to hate us and we teach love thy neighbor” (232).

The first part of this myth is propagated by people like US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and more recently Newt Gingrich, who both spread the baseless claim that Palestinian schoolbooks teach anti-Semitism. This calumny originated with anti-Palestinian propagandandists such as Israeli settler Itamar Marcus and his “Palestinian Media Watch.”

In an important new book, Palestine in Israeli School Books, Israeli language and education professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan buries the second part of Livni’s myth once and for all.

Peled-Elhanan examines 17 Israeli school textbooks on history, geography and civic studies. Her conclusions are an indictment of the Israeli system of indoctrination and its cultivation of anti-Arab racism from an early age: “The books studied here harness the past to the benefit of the … Israeli policy of expansion, whether they were published during leftist or right-wing [education] ministries” (224).

She goes into great detail, examining and exposing the sometimes complex and subtle ways this is achieved. Her expertise in semiotics (the study of signs and symbols) comes to the fore.

Inculcation of anti-Palestinian ideology in the minds of Israel’s youth is achieved in the books through the use of exclusion and absence: “none of the textbooks studied here includes, whether verbally or visually, any positive cultural or social aspect of Palestinian life-world: neither literature nor poetry, neither history nor agriculture, neither art nor architecture, neither customs nor traditions are ever mentioned” (49).

Palestinians marginalized, demonized by Israeli textbooks

On the occasions Palestinians (including Palestinian citizens of Israel) are mentioned, it is in an overwhelmingly negative, Orientalist and demeaning light: “all [the books] represent [Palestinians] in racist icons or demeaning classificatory images such as terrorists, refugees and primitive farmers — the three ‘problems’ they constitute for Israel” (49).

“For example in MTII [Modern Times II, a 1999 history text book] there are only two photographs of Palestinians, one of face-covered Palestinian children throwing stones ‘at our forces’ … [t]he other photograph is of ‘refugees’ … placed in a nameless street” (72).

This what Peled-Elhanan terms “strategies of negative representation.” She explains that “Palestinians are often referred to as ‘the Palestinian problem.’” While this expression is even used by writers considered “progressive,” the term “was salient in the ultra-right-wing ideology and propaganda of Meir Kahane,” the late Israeli politician and rabbi who openly called for the Palestinians to be expelled. Peled-Elhanan finds this disturbing, coming as it does “only 60 years after the Jews were called ‘The Jewish Problem’ ” (65).

She reprints examples of the crude Orientalist cartoon representations of Arabs, “imported into Israeli school book [sic] from European illustrations of books such as The Arabian Nights” (74). Arab men stand, dressed in Oriental garb, often riding camels. The cartoons of Arab women show them seated submissively, dressed in traditional outfits. Meanwhile, two Israelis on the same page are “depicted as a ‘normal’ — though caricaturistic — Western couple, unmarked by any ‘Jewish’ or ‘other’ object-signs” (110-11). The message is clear: Arabs do not belong here with “us.”

Justifications for massacre

Peled-Elhanan concludes: “The books studied here present Israeli-Jewish culture as superior to the Arab-Palestinian one, Israeli-Jewish concepts of progress as superior to Palestinian-Arab way of life and Israeli-Jewish behavior as aligning with universal values” (230).

While Israeli war crimes are not entirely ignored, the textbooks do their best to downplay or justify massacres and ethnic cleansing. “[T]he Israeli version of events are stated as objective facts, while the Palestinian-Arab versions are stated as possibility, realized in openings such as ‘According to the Arab version’ … [or] ‘Dier [sic.] Yassin became a myth in the Palestinian narrative … a horrifying negative image of the Jewish conqueror in the eyes of Israel’s Arabs’ ” (50-1).

Deir Yassin was a Palestinian village where, in 1948, a notorious massacre of around 100 persons by terrorists from the Zionist militias Irgun, Lehi and Hagana took place. Yet note in the example above that is is only the negative image of Israel that is “horrifying.” The massacre of unarmed men, women and children is otherwise not a cause for concern.

Israeli education going backwards

With reference to previous studies of Israeli school textbooks, Peled-Elhanan finds that, despite some signs of improvement in the 1990s, the more recent books she examined have if anything got worse. The issue of the Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, is for the most part not ignored, but instead justified.

For example, in all the books mentioning Deir Yassin, the massacre is justified because: “the slaughter of friendly Palestinians brought about the flight of other Palestinians which enabled the establishment of a coherent Jewish state” — a result so self-evidently good it doesn’t need explaining (178).

Contrary to the hope of previous studies “for ‘the appearance of a new narrative in [Israeli] history textbooks’ … some of the most recent school books (2003-09) regress to the ‘first generation’ [1950s] accounts — when archival information was less accessible — and are, like them ‘replete with bias, prejudice, errors, [and] misrepresentations’ ” (228).

There is some sloppy editing here, and the academic jargon at times slips into the realm of mystifying. But those quibbles aside, Peled-Elhanan’s book is the definitive account of just how Israeli schoolchildren are brainwashed by the state and society into hatred and contempt of Palestinians and Arabs, immediately before the time they are due to enter the army as young conscripts.

Asa Winstanley is a journalist from London who has lived and worked in occupied Palestine. His website is:

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