ISRAEL’S ILLEGAL OCCUPATION, NOT PALESTINIAN TEXTBOOKS, IS THE SOURCE OF VIOLENCE

ISRAEL’S ILLEGAL OCCUPATION, NOT PALESTINIAN TEXTBOOKS, IS THE SOURCE OF VIOLENCEAref Assaf

Pro Israel groups often criticize the Palestinian Authority (PA) for producing educational materials that incite hatred and undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli state. Indeed, a recent press release by Shari Goldstein, Regional Director of the Anti Defamation League, (ADL), claims that Palestinian children are ”victims” of the Palestinian Authority’s education system that promotes “glorification of murder.” Quoting a UN official, the statement also laments the fact that Palestinian children have no sports figures or people in authority to look up to.” Mr. Goldstein’s accusations were in response to a condemnation by two Arab American groups of the decision of the Rutgers ’ newspaper, The Daily Targum, to publish an inflammatory anti-Palestinian ad in their November 4, 2002, issue.

As for Palestinian textbooks, we cite an independent report prepared by Nathan Brown, a professor at George Washington University that finds that the vast majority of ADL’s accusations stem from a single very suspect Israeli source: a Jewish-American organization called the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP). Dr. Brown’s report concludes that the accusations are “often wildly exaggerated or inaccurate” and the sources “misleading and tendentious.” He does assert, “the Palestinian curriculum is not a wartime curriculum. While highly nationalist, it does not incite hatred, violence, and anti-Semitism. It cannot be described as a peace curriculum either. Example of PA’s “hate-teaching” include the use of maps that do not show Israel’s borders, the allegation that Israeli changed the names of formerly Arab towns, the contention that many Arabs were forcibly displaced in 1948, and even the suggestion that there were centers of the Palestinian population in Palestine before 1948! All these concrete claims, however, are widely accepted even by Israeli historians. Another example is the Palestinians’ “failure” to show Israel ’s borders. This does not really constitute a claim to all of Palestine (Brown argues that the textbooks are simply evasive to avoid controversy); and where official claims are made, for instance by the PA, they have explicitly recognized Israel for more than a decade. The Israeli government has, of course, made no such parallel recognition of a Palestinian state nor has it ever defined its borders

How ironic that the ADL’s press release accuses certain organizations of trying to “divert attention from the real issues” when, ironically, the entire release never even alludes to the fact that a 36-year brutal military rule is the reason for rage among the Palestinian people. Perhaps most ironic is that the release points to the fact that Palestinians have no “sports figures” to look up to as if the Israeli occupation and economic strangulation of the Israeli siege of the Occupied Territories permitted Palestinians to worry about anything more than daily survival. It is utterly unfathomable that Goldstein quotes a United Nations source- the same organization that, since 1948, Israel has consistently defied and refused to carry out any one of its resolutions. The Palestinians can thank the Israeli occupation — not their textbooks — for their inability to eat or work, much less root for a soccer team.