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Palestinian children are not taught to hate

Posted By Philippe Khan

A wrong widespread misconception alleges that the new Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks fuel hatred and negative sentiments towards the U.S. and the West in general, besides Israel. Numerous reports in recent months attacked the new schoolbooks in the Palestinian territories.

Those claims had been clearly highlighted in a biased repot issued by the by Palestinian Media Watch and endorsed by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The report is titled "From Nationalist Battle to Religious Conflict: New 12th Grade Palestinian Textbooks Present a World without Israel," and authored by PMW director Itamar Marcus and associate director Barbara Crook. 

The report alleges that the textbooks portray the U.S. and the West in negative terms, describing the relationship as a "clash of civilizations." It furthermore attacks the U.S. as a human rights abuser and a violator of international humanitarian law. (How else can you describe the U.S.'s involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, among many other countries now suffering from the so-called U.S. democracy).

The report also attacks the fact that children are being taught that the U.S. supports Israel, the occupier of the Palestinian lands, both financially and militarily. (Isnít that true?)

"I believe that education is one of the keys to lasting peace in the Middle East and for this reason I am very concerned with these findings. Ever since we first raised this issue some years ago there still has not been an adequate repudiation of incitement by the Palestinian Authority. It is even more disturbing that the problem appears to have gotten worse. These textbooks don't give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination," Senator Clinton said. 

"Teaching Palestinian children that the conflict is religious and not territorial will leave no possibility for compromise and could guarantee another generation of conflict," Marcus had been quoted as saying. 

"It's very significant and disturbing that these new books contain ideology that has been associated mainly with Hamas - especially the unequivocal denial of Israel's right to exist and the portrayal of the conflict with Israel as a religious struggle, not a territorial dispute," says co-author Crook. 

Mrs. Clinton had repetitively attacked the Palestinian schoolbooks, claiming they encourage students to be violent.

In an incendiary statement on Palestinian schoolbooks to Itamar Marcus last month, Mrs. Clinton alleged that the schoolbooks focus on hate and de-legitimizing Israelís right to exist. 

Back in 2000, when Mrs. Clinton began her independent political career by running for the seat in the New York Senate being vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, she made similar accusations, raising skepticism over the significance of the timing of her rhetoric. Some analysts suggested that she was using the issue for political goals.

At that time, the expectation was that Mrs. Clinton would begin the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination as the front-runner.

Clintonís farce accusations about Palestinian schoolbooks' encouragement of violence among children were based on reports produced by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), right-wing center that has offices in New York and Jerusalem, of which Itamar Marcus was the director. 

CMIP has clear political goals; itís not merely a peace-oriented center. 

And this explains the intentions behind its 2000 report which focused on the content of Jordanian and Egyptian school books that were being taught to children in Palestinian schools since the early 50s and were fully censored by Israeli Military Commanders in charge of Palestinian education since 1967. 

Despite the fact that the CMIP reportís accusations were totally baseless, they were circulated all over the world, resulting in a great harm to the image of the Palestinian education system.

Following the issuance and the distribution of the report, countries stopped funding the development of the Palestinians school books. 

In response to the disturbing report that dealt a major blow to the Palestinian education system and its image worldwide, scholars including Nathan Brown, IPICRI, Daniel Bar Tal, Nurit Peled El-Khanan and Ruth Firer, among others, announced that it contains many mistakes in its translation, selective analysis, and they questioned its credibility.

According to those scholarsí conclusion, as stated an editorial on Counter Punch, Palestinian school books do not encourage violence among children and do not preach hate, on the contrary, they are highly moderate, despite the deteriorating situation in the occupied territories and Israelís continuous violations and repetitive crimes against Palestinian civilians.

We shouldnít expect schoolbooks being taught to Palestinian children to be void of issues related to borders for instance. 

However, while, most of maps in the Palestinian school books show the boundaries of Palestinian authority limited to West Bank and Gaza strip in accordance with UN resolutions 242 and 338. Israeli schoolbooks do not show the green line in their maps, and discuss the Palestinian Occupied Territories of 1967 as Judea and Samaria and as part of Erez Israel (Promised Land) without even mentioning the name Palestinian, whether in reference to the population or the country. 

Also while Palestinian school books are free of stereotypes, as stated the scholars who criticised the CMIP report, Israeli school books are full of negative stereotypes of Palestinians. They call Arabs and not Palestinians: primitive, bloodthirsty, backward, a problem, dirty, among many others.

Several scholars discovered grave mistakes in the CMIP's report, which intentionally ignored the fact that Palestinian school books preach the values of human rights and democracy, as well as peace between nations, religious tolerance, and pursuing peaceful means to resolve conflicts.

The very same facts were also ignored by Mrs. Clinton, who accused Palestinian mothers of not being good mothers, and not caring for their children. 

For Mrs. Clinton, and others like Elie Wiesel, Senator Schumer and Barbara Crook, CMIP report was nothing but a good tool to fulfill their political goals, without even bothering to check other sources to check its credibility.

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