MYTH: Palestinian teachers are making a positive contribution to peacemaking.


credit: Palestinian Media Watch,

One reason Israelis have little confidence in the prospect of peace with the Palestinians is that they see how the young generation of students is being indoctrinated in Palestinian Authority schools.  Textbooks erase Israel’s existence, provide misinformation about the Jewish people and Israel, promote violence and martyrdom and demonize Israelis.  The texts are only one part of the story; however, another is the reference materials used by the teachers to formulate their lessons.  Those teacher guides are equally problematic.

According to a study by Dr. Arnon Groiss, of 89 teachers’ guides published in 2016-2018, the most problematic guides are for grades 7-10 in the subject of Arabic language.  Some of the same issues also arise in other courses, but not to the same degree.

One recurring theme is the delegitimization of Israel and the Jewish connection to the land of Israel.  Teachers are supposed to teach that the Palestinians have a right to all of “Palestine” and Jews have no claim to the land.  The myth that the Palestinians are descendants of the Canaanites is also perpetuated.  As in textbooks, the guides feature maps that replace Israel with Palestine and label cities with Arabic names.  Jews are considered colonialist settlers and Jewish history in the area is denied.

One of the many examples in the study examines the history of the NakbaA guide for a 10th grade Arabic Language text refers to “the motives for the Zionist gangs’ activity of collective extermination and forced emigration of our people in 1948,” which include “Ethnic cleansing of the country, terrorizing the civilians and obliging them by the force of arms to leave their villages and homes.”

Jews and Israel are also to be demonized.  “Both are depicted as aggressive, barbarous, full of hate and bent on extermination, thus forming an existential threat to the Palestinians” according to Groiss.  The Palestinians are victims of the evil Jews who have always been enemies of Islam.

One 9th grade Arabic language text says of the Jews:  “These gangs spread destruction and ruin in the city and dug their fangs of hostility in its pure body. They perpetrated there the ugliest extermination campaigns, until none of its Arab inhabitants were left [alive], except for few.”

Rather than a peace curriculum, Groiss says teachers are instructed to encourage “a violent liberation struggle” because “peace and coexistence with Israel are not an option.”  The Palestinian refugees are expected to “return to their former residential places in liberated Palestine, not to the State of Israel.” Cities in Israel such as Haifa and Acre are said to be “waiting for liberation.”

The Islamization of the conflict is evident in the stress placed on defending and liberating the Al-Aqsa Mosque, jihad and martyrdom.  Students are to be encouraged, according to a 10th grade Arabic Language text, to conduct research “to become familiar with the martyr’s status and his exclusiveness given to him by God out of respect to him and to his family.”

This is the message for young Palestinian women presented in a 10th grade Arabic language book:

The Palestinian woman enjoys an important status in [her] family, society and the [Palestinian] cause. She is the children’s educator, mother and wife of the martyrs and the prisoners-of-war.  She is the one who strives to provide for the family, and she is the one who fights the occupation.  We cannot ignore the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi, the martyr Muntaha al-Hawrani, the fighter Leila Khaled, and many others…

Al-Mughrabi participated in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in which 38 Israelis, including 13 children, were murdered.  Al-Hawrani was a young girl from Jenin who was killed by Israeli troops during a violent demonstration.  Khaled hijacked a TWA plane from Rome to Tel Aviv in 1969 and was prevented from hijacking an El Al flight from Amsterdam to New York the following year by Israeli sky marshals.

Groiss observes that “everything is tied to a fixed idea that the ‘other’ is the source of their misfortune and, thus, that ‘other’ should be eliminated.”  He concludes that “Palestinian educators are imposing on their students a bleak future of hatred and misery, with no hope other than becoming a martyr in an endless struggle that is bound to bring pain and distress for years to come.”

Does this indoctrination matter?

Consider the results of a 2019 survey of Palestinians in which only 36% of 18-30-year-olds believed a two-state solution should be “the end of the conflict with Israel.”  Based on the findings of the entire survey, David Pollock observed, “in the longer term, majority popular opposition to permanent peace with Israel, even among younger respondents, suggests that real reconciliation remains a distant dream….the evidence indicates that a compromise deal based mostly on goodwill is not a realistic option anytime soon, for either the United States or any of its regional partners” (David Pollock, “Younger Palestinians More Moderate on Tactical Issues, But Not on Long-Term Peace with Israel,” Washington Institute, September 6, 2019).

Posted at Jewish Virtual Library: Myths and Facts

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