Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dear Senator Clinton: About Those Palestinian Textbooks...

[This unusually well-researched letter comes from British blogger, Lawrence of Cyberia, whose Facebook name is Diane Mason. -jlt]

I'm sure you remember that on 14 June 2001 you co-authored with your fellow Senator from the great state of New York, Charles Schumer, a letter to President Bush, praising him for his Administration’s attempts to arrange a ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians but urging him to make clear that there could be no lasting peace until President Arafat put an end to the propagation of "hateful, anti-Israeli rhetoric" in PA official statements and school textbooks. You gave a very specific example of the kind of hate speech to which Palestinian school children are subjected in their required reading, noting that Our Country Palestine, one of the textbooks introduced in 2000 as part of the new PA 6th grade curriculum contained the declaration, "There is no alternative to destroying Israel". You wondered rhetorically: "When Palestinian children are brought up to hate Israel, how can we ever expect a commitment to a lasting peace?"

From the example you chose, it is apparent that you got your information on the inflammatory nature of PA textbooks from an influential 2000 report - The New Palestinian Authority School Textbooks for Grades One and Six - by the "Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace" (CMIP). CMIP claimed that the PA’s recently-introduced new school books for 1st and 6th grades "do not teach the notions of peace and coexistence with Israel" but "plant the seeds of hate" in upcoming Palestinian generations through their "delegitimization of Israel’s existence", implicit "seeking of Israel’s destruction", "defamation of Israel", and "encouraging militarism and violence". One of CMIP’s most vivid examples of hate speech in Palestinian textbooks is the quote ("There is no alternative to destroying Israel") that you cited in your letter to the President, and which has since been widely used as proof of incitement in Palestinian schoolbooks by U.S. policy makers, right-wing commentators, and some of your fellow legislators (such as Congressman Steve Israel – coincidentally, also of the great state of New York - who reproduced the same allegation as fact in a letter to the New York Times, on 10 June 2001). Thanks in part to your collective efforts, the meme that Palestinian schoolbooks are a hotbed of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic incitement is as widely known as other mischievous falsehoods we popularly hear about the Palestinians, like "they don't love their children like we do" and "we offered them everything, but they refused".

Don't stop now. Read the whole article, bibliography and all. =>
Recommend this Post

Sphere: Related Content