JNS — May 25, 2022
Joe Biden made clear during his campaign that he would restore Palestinian aid cut by his predecessor as part of an effort to improve relations with the Palestinians. As president, he wasted no time in approving $290 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority and another $150 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). These allocations violate the spirit if not the letter of the laws designed to make the Palestinians and the United Nations accountable for undermining the prospects for peace with Israel. … There is no law barring aid to UNRWA; however, Congress has made its concerns known by requiring the State Department to report whether the agency is taking steps to ensure the content of educational materials taught in UNRW-administered schools and summer camps is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity and tolerance, and does not induce incitement. The Biden administration said it was restoring aid after “UNWRA has made clear their rock-solid commitments to the United States on the issues of transparency, accountability, and neutrality in all its operations. … And what neutrality means in the context of the United Nations is zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, and antisemitism.” The United States has continued to fund UNRWA while acknowledging the agency continues to distribute antisemitic and anti-Israel material. A report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), for example, found that “UNRWA is complicit in radicalizing schoolchildren through the glorification of terrorists, encouragement to violence and teaching of blood libels to Palestinian schoolchildren.” UNRWA maps label all of Israel as “Palestine,” and Israel is referred to as “The Enemy” or the “Zionist Occupation.” In 2020, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the use of such materials, and the United Kingdom and European Union subsequently cut their contributions to UNRWA. Thanks in part to U.S. support, UNRWA can incite violence and teach millions of Palestinians to hate Jews and Israel. Rather than use aid as leverage to encourage reforms, the administration is rewarding the Palestinians for their intransigence and underwriting their promotion of terror.
Atlantic Council — May 17, 2022
The Abraham Accords opened the door to a myriad of opportunities for peacebuilding, tolerance, and development in the Middle East, but has been met with some degree of public opposition following decades of mistrust and hostility. Peace and stability are fragile, and the best way to build sustainable relationships between Israel and the Middle East is through tolerance-building and educational reforms initiatives. On March 8, the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Programs, with support from the Jeffrey M. Talpins Foundation, held a virtual event and panel discussion on “Promoting tolerance: A conversation with the House Abraham Accords Caucus and regional experts.” This event marked the first public event of the Co-Chairs of the House Abraham Accords Caucus: Congressman Bradley Schneider and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and featured regional experts Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se; H.E. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Hedayah; and El Mehdi Boudra, Founder and Chairman of Mimouna Association. Congressman Bradley Schneider acknowledged the Abraham Accords as a shift for the Middle East, a shift in cross-cultural understanding, and a shift in action. Schneider believes that to create permanent peace, the Abraham Accords must go beyond political and economic cooperation and create people-to-people understanding, starting with interaction through education. Similarly, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers emphasized the work of the Caucus as a bipartisan endeavor and reaffirmed US commitment to tolerance and peacebuilding in the Middle East, as well as the importance of preserving peace through education and generational change. Marcus Sheff began the discussion looking at the purpose of textbook reform. Education in schools is key to fostering peace; however, it can also be used to breed hatred. Textbooks are uniquely authoritative and they inform the actions of any one generation, and IMPACT-se closely examines all textbooks given to students in the Middle East. Through comparative analysis and drawing trend conclusions between books, they’re able to create policy recommendations for educational reforms and a basis for new curriculum. H.E. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi discussed how tolerance promotion through education reform in the UAE has changed since the signing of the Accords. El Mehdi Boudra noted the unique perspective in Morocco, where diversity is seen as a resource. The Abraham Accords were not enacted for the sake of a political agenda, but to highlight the Jewish component of Moroccan identity. Regarding the push for tolerance in education, full engagement should involve the media, religious leaders, and public and private institutions as mechanisms for reform. Boudra argued that reform should not be restricted to the institutional level and that grassroots movements and civil societies will bring in new initiatives and innovative strategies to education. Sheff asserted that teaching peace will create relationships that transcend the economic and that there should be no dissonance between the actions of government and what is being taught in schools. If normalization is a national strategy, then it should also be taught in schools. All panelists agreed that there must be institutional engagement, synergy between government and civil society, and extensive textbook reform to create the blueprint for building a more peaceful and more tolerant Middle East and to maintain the momentum started by the Abraham Accords.
JNS — May 16, 2022
The European Union’s 2022–24 UNRWA aid budget will be 40 percent lower than during the previous three-year period, the EU announced last week. The new budget will provide $82 million annually, compared to the previous average annual figure of $135 million, according to the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that monitors educational materials around the world for extremist content. In April of last year, the EU Parliament condemned UNRWA for teaching and producing UN-branded hate material uncovered by IMPACT- se, and conditioned EU funds on changes to the curriculum. The EU commissioner, who announced the reduced funding package, said last year, after the Parliament’s condemnation, that the European Union would fight antisemitism and should consider conditioning aid to UNRWA on full adherence to UNESCO standards of peace and tolerance in textbooks. He reiterated the sentiment in November 2021, when he stated during an international ministerial UNRWA donor conference that “full compliance with UNESCO standards in education material” is “non-negotiable,” and that the European Union would continue to work with UNRWA towards “increased accountability, transparency and consistency with UN principles.”
EJP — May 4, 2022
The European Parliament on Wednesday condemned the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the third consecutive year for its abuse of EU funding used to draft and teach new violent and hateful textbooks worse than previous editions. A resolution adopted by the EU parliament during its plenary session in Strasbourg demands that the Palestinian Authority be “closely scrutinized,” that the curriculum be modified “expeditiously,” and reiterates previous motions adopted by the Parliament insisting that funding to the PA “must be made conditional” on teaching peace and tolerance in compliance with UNESCO standards. The resolution is based on a report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), an international research and policy organization that monitors and analyzes education around the world. This NGO employs international standards of peace, tolerance and non-violence, as derived from UNESCO declarations and resolutions, to determine compliance and to advocate for change when necessary. The report was presented to a joint foreign affairs, budget, budgetary control and education and culture committee hearing of the parliament, as well as to the European Commission, in an April 20th testimony, and in a series of meetings with IMPACT-se’s leadership prior to the vote. The report uncovered thousands of pages of new teaching material found to be worse than current or previous Palestinian textbooks, produced by PA civil servants whose salaries are funded by the EU, that directly call for violence and promote antisemitism. The EU confirmed last month that all funding continues to be withheld over textbook hate as deliberations to condition some funding on textbook reform reached the President of the EU Commission corroborating previous statements by the Palestinian Authority. Though aid is expected to be channeled to the PA later this year, the amount to be made conditional on textbook reform is unknown. Multiple amendments attempting to nullify the impact of the resolution fell, including a separate resolution on EU funds for Israel, which was voted down. This while leading up to the vote, campaigners in Brussels falsely contended that the PA textbooks meet UNESCO standards. On April 20, the PA Minister of Education withdrew from an EU parliamentary debate with IMPACT-se at the last moment. He was criticized by both the Commission and Parliament for refusing to attend after he originally called for the hearing. Dutch MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen, a member of the foreign affairs committee, stressed that “it’s time to act because, we don’t see any improvements. Despite many calls from EU Parliament, the textbooks, but also the new materials, the study cards are still full of antisemitism, hate speech and incitement to violence. Students are directly encouraged to commit acts of violence and instructed to commit jihad against Israelis and die as martyrs. That is really unacceptable. lets tell him [PA minister of education] that we won’t unblock the reserve as long as the textbooks don’t meet UNESCO standards.”
The Jerusalem Post — April 29, 2022
Palestinian Education Minister, Dr. Marwan Awartani, was set to attend the European Union Parliament’s April 20 hearing on textbook incitement but backed out at the last moment. Despite initially calling for the hearing and agreeing to the EU-supervised debate with IMPACT-se, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, Dr. Awartani refused to take part in it. In his absence, IMPACT-se testified alone before the parliament. In an explanation of the Parliament’s overall goal in funding Palestinian educational materials, MEP Lukas Mandl, Vice-Chair of the Security and Defence Subcommittee said, “hatred breeds hatred, violence, and worse, we should have learned that by now. It’s shocking to see that once again these educational materials propagate hatred. In no case should we be sending EU taxpayers money, that’s absolutely mad.” The hearing covered the topic of incendiary language and content in Palestinian educational materials. EU Parliament members were shocked at the content of the PA Education Ministry’s new study cards, which were produced in response to the Parliament’s declaration that the PA’s existing textbooks were unacceptable. Budgetary Control committee chair, MEP Monika Hohlmeier, explained that the Parliament is looking to fund “nonviolent education for children.” MARCUS SHEFF, CEO of IMPACT-SE, (back to camera) briefs European MEPs in Brussels on Palestinian textbooks. This is why the committee initially suspended funds from the PA upon the discovery of their textbooks. The Parliament had called the textbooks “outrageous,” “unacceptable,” and “an absolute scandal,” and the cards showed absolutely no improvement in terms of incendiary content. The EU Commission and Parliament criticized the PA for refusing to attend the debate and roundly denounced the new study cards. A resolution condemning PA textbooks and abuse of EU funding is set to be voted on in early May.
JNS — April 26, 2022
Despite Western calls for reform, the Palestinian Authority curriculum has ramped up its incitement in recent years, with school textbooks and other learning materials filled with antisemitism, calls for jihad, rejection of reconciliation and the delegitimization of Israel. So problematic is the content that, according to reports, it has led the European Union to freeze its funding to the PA. In fact, passing up an opportunity to explain the PA’s position, Palestinian Education Minister Marwan Awartani pulled out of a debate about the curriculum before the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control on April 20. Marcus Sheff, CEO of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that monitors educational materials around the world for extremist content, spoke at the Committee on Budgetary Control debate focusing on the PA’s new “study cards,” released in August. Sheff told the committee that the study cards came to 10,000 pages, “roughly equivalent in size to a whole school curriculum,” and that they were “in some cases more violent and more inciteful than the curriculum that we’ve seen before.” Describing them as “openly antisemitic,” he said the cards provide lessons that teach that Jews control the world, glorify suicide bombers and that those who kill infidels will go to paradise. Arik Agassi, chief operating officer of IMPACT-se, told JNS that he was surprised as one parliamentarian after another joined in criticism of the PA, saying that given the EU’s history, he had rather expected them to criticize IMPACT-se. “We expected pushback. It was quite the opposite. They’ve had enough,” he said, noting that the European parliament has been aware of the incitement in Palestinian schools for years. Sheff told JNS that the “most astonishing element” is that the EU Commission, “essentially the government of the European Union,” also said that it’s had enough and that it wasn’t going to hand over 200 million euros annually until the PA made “significant changes to the textbooks,” as the commission is now convinced that they “incite hatred, violence and are antisemitic.” However, in response to queries from JNS, the European Union would not say that funds to the PA had been frozen. Rather, an EU official reaffirmed the organization’s “long-standing commitment towards building the future state of Palestine.” David Bedein, who runs the Center for Near East Policy Research and who has been covering PA curriculum issues for 22 years, said he is highly doubtful that any real change has taken place. “There’s a tendency to confuse the European Parliament and the EU While the parliament is the only directly elected body in the EU, it’s not the one that determines policy and those at the top haven’t changed. The European Parliament is for Israel. The EU is not'” he said. IMPACT-se’s Sheff and Agassi, however, expressed confidence that the funds to the PA have been frozen, pointing to comments during the debate by Henrike Trautmann, the EU Commission’s director for the southern neighborhood at DG NEAR (Directorate-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations), which they described as the first confirmation from the EU that all funds had been frozen over the curriculum issue. “The EU is famous for its diplomatic speech and for its lack of clarity in diplomatic issues,” said Sheff. “They will say to themselves, ‘We conduct our diplomacy directly bilaterally with the PA, and it would harm our diplomacy with the PA to publicly say what everybody, including the PA, is saying is a fact.'”
i24 — April 3, 2022
The European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee (CONT) passed a motion earlier this week condemning the Palestinian Authority (PA) for issuing textbooks that contain violent and hateful materials using EU funding. CONT’s motion was part of the European Union’s annual budgetary procedure examining how European taxpayer funds are spent on international projects, The Jerusalem Post reported. EU funding to the PA was subsequently frozen while the committee deliberate further action. The motion – proposed by the left-leaning Renew Europe Party – demanded that the PA be “closely scrutinized” and that the school curriculum be modified “expeditiously.” “Problematic and hateful material in Palestinian school textbooks has still not been removed” and the EU “is concerned about the continued failure to act effectively against hate speech and violence,” the motion stated.
The proposal stemmed from a January 2022 report by IMPACT-se, a pro-Israel NGO that monitors the content of school textbooks, The Post reported. Examining new teaching material by the PA, IMPACT-se suggested that the textbooks were worse than previous Palestinian curriculum, directly calling for violence against Jews and Israel as well as promoting antisemitism. The organization pointed out that the school material was produced by PA civil servants whose salaries are funded by the EU. We are “concerned about the Palestinian authority teaching hate,” said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff. “A funding freeze worth hundreds of millions of Euros is in place because of… textbooks,” he added, The Post reported. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the College of Commissioner will deliberate next on continued funding suspensions and the conditions of EU funding to the PA.
JNS — April 3, 2022
The Palestinian Authority’s school curriculum was established in 1993 by Mahmoud Abbas, when he was Yasser Arafat’s deputy. The curriculum is the most factual description of the rogue Palestinian walk—a direct contrast to Palestinian diplomatic talk. It focuses on pre-1967 Israel, and has been consistent with the 1959 Charter of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and the 1964 Charter of Mahmoud Abbas’s PLO, before Israel regained control of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). The curriculum is consistent with the anti-“infidel” precepts of Islam, aimed to eliminate the “infidel” from the “abode of Islam” and bring the “infidel” to submission. It is the most reliable expression of the deeply-rooted Palestinian vision of establishing an Arab entity from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, by eliminating the “infidel” Jewish sovereignty. It is also a most authentic reflection of attitudes of the PA in general, and its view of the Jewish state in particular. Since its establishment in 1993, it has played a major role in shaping the attitudes of the Palestinian street. It has been the most effective production line for Palestinian terrorists. The perpetrators of Palestinian terrorism—against rival factions and against the Jewish state—are proof of its effectiveness as a brain-washing tool. The following January 2022 documentation of the Palestinian school curriculum was prepared by Eldad Pardo of the Hebrew University, who has researched school curricula in the P.A., Iran, the Gulf States and other Middle East entities. The report was published by The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education.
• The 2021-22 curriculum contains anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hate and incitement.
• Jews are depicted as devious, treacherous and brutal.
• The focus of instruction regarding the “occupation” is on the pre-1967 area of Israel, such as Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Lod, the Galilee and the Negev.
• Israel has been entirely erased from the maps used in geography and social science classes.
• Israel is described as a satanic entity, and its establishment is defined as a crime, and a “colonial conspiracy,” based on “false premises” and a “racist ideology.”
• Women may gain equality through sacrifice and “martyrdom.”
• Students are encouraged to commit acts of violence and instructed to commit jihad (Holy War) against Israelis and die as martyrs to liberate Palestine and especially the al-Aqsa Mosque.
• Students are taught that those who die as martyrs (shuhada), while killing infidels (kuffar, i.e., Christians, Jews, polytheists), a notion described as one of the “rules of jihad,” will receive God’s grace and be greatly rewarded.
The bottom line:
A peace process, on the one hand, and Palestinian school curriculum, on the other hand, constitute a classic oxymoron. The failure to precondition negotiations with the P.A. upon the dismantling of its hate education has doomed negotiation to failure, while energizing terrorism. Conducting peace negotiation with the P.A. before the dismantling of its hate-driven school curriculum resembles negotiating an end to drug trafficking while tolerating the drug cartels’ penetration of the political and educational systems.
EJP — April 1, 2022
EU funding to the PA has been frozen during deliberations on funding conditionality because of textbook hate. This week’s motion was proposed by the centrist-liberal Renew Europe Party and supported by the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the EU parliament. It demands that the Palestinian Authority be “closely scrutinized” and that the curriculum be modified “expeditiously.” The motion “deplores that problematic and hateful material in Palestinian school textbooks has still not been removed and is concerned about the continued failure to act effectively against hate speech and violence in school textbooks and especially in the newly created study cards; reiterates its position that all textbooks and materials supported by EU Funds which are used in schools must be in line with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, co-existence and non-violence; moreover, insists that salaries of teachers and education sector civil servants that are financed from Union funds such as PEGASE be used for drafting and teaching curricula which reflect the UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and non-violence, as was decided upon by Union education ministers in Paris on March 17, 2015; and European Parliament decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial years 2016, 2018 and 2019; requests therefore the Commission to closely scrutinize that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and relevant experts modify the curriculum expeditiously.” The motion is based on a January 2022 report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) that was presented to Committee members in a series of meetings in recent weeks. The IMPACT-se report uncovered thousands of pages of new teaching material found to be worse than current or previous Palestinian textbooks produced by PA civil servants that directly call for violence and promote antisemitism. The salaries of these civil servants are funded by the EU. As IMPACT-se pointed out to lawmakers, this material was written after the European Commission committed to a roadmap together with the PA to ensure new textbooks produced in 2021 would be free of hate.
EU Reporter — April 1, 2022
The European Parliament’s Budgetary Control committee yesterday passed a motion condemning the Palestinian Authority for drafting and teaching new violent and hateful materials using EU funding. The motion is part of the EU’s annual budgetary procedure which scrutinizes how European taxpayer funds have been spent through projects carried out by the EU. This as EU funding to the PA is frozen during deliberations on funding conditionality because of textbook hate. The motion was proposed by left-leaning Renew Europe Party and supported by the centrist EPP party. It demands that the Palestinian Authority be “closely scrutinized” and that the curriculum be modified “expeditiously.” The motion is based on a January 2022 report by IMPACT-se that was presented to Committee members in a series of meetings in recent weeks by IMPACT-se’s leadership in the lead-up to the vote. The IMPACT-se report uncovered thousands of pages of new teaching material found to be worse than current or previous Palestinian textbooks produced by PA civil servants whose salaries are funded by the EU that directly call for violence and promote antisemitism. As IMPACT-se pointed out to lawmakers, this material was written after the EU Commission committed to a roadmap together with the PA to ensure new textbooks produced in 2021 would be free of hate.
The Jerusalem Post — March 5, 2022
Millions of euros from the European Union that are meant to aid the Palestinian Authority have been delayed in EU offices as officials discuss whether to condition parts of the foreign assistance on reforms to Palestinian textbooks. A cross-party group of EU legislators called for reduction of funds to the PA over the failed textbook reform in a letter to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen demanding that funding be conditional upon the reform. The textbooks in question have demonstrated “antisemitic narratives and glorification of violence,” according to the EU-commissioned Georg Eckert Institute. Despite promises made to donor nations to revise the textbooks, the PA Ministry of Education reprinted last year’s textbooks with the same issues raised by the EU. Moreover, the authority wrote thousands of pages of new material, roughly equivalent in size to all the textbooks in the curriculum. The new material contains content that is worse than current or previous Palestinian textbooks, with a greater number of lessons that directly incite violence and propagate overt antisemitism. The new material brought to the European Parliament demonstrates, for example, how Israelis are “Satan’s aide,” calls for students to die as martyrs and liberate Al-Aqsa mosque, and teaches students to kill infidels in exchange for great rewards. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) has briefed Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who signed the letter to the EC president. “Years of negotiation with the PA and repeated commissions [pledging] “zero tolerance” for antisemitism have unfortunately failed to bring about the desired change,” the letter said. “Palestinian children continue to be abused as they are being taught to hate. Asking the PA to revise these books is an imposition but self-evident and non-negotiable duty.” “These parliament members are angry and frustrated,” said IMPACT-SE CEO Marcus Sheff. “After passing legislation condemning the Palestinian textbooks and after the European Union extracted a commitment that it would remove the hate, the Palestinian Authority clearly set out to deceive Brussels by simply reprinting the old books for the new year. “The EU was entirely unaware of this and of the ten thousand pages of new, hateful teaching material the PA produced on their dime. The legislators have good reason to be outraged.” The European Union is the largest single donor to the PA, which constitutes a significant part of the West Bank economy. The EU funds salary of many Palestinian professionals who write those education textbooks, and in return, has asked for assurance that those books will uphold most basic EU and UNESCO standards for education.
The Algemeiner — March 3, 2022
European Union lawmakers are urging the European Commission to consider reducing funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if it continues refusing to purge its K-12 curriculum of materials that “incite schoolchildren to hate Jews and emulate terrorists. This situation is simply intolerable, even more so as the EU is paying the salaries of the school teachers using this hateful material,” 32 members of the European Parliament wrote in a letter to the commission’s president on Tuesday. “This is a glaring violation of the most basic EU values and contradicts our common goal of working toward peace and the creation of a democratic Palestinian state.” The European Commission has for years declared a “zero tolerance” policy for antisemitism, the signatories noted, but neglected to hold the PA accountable for failing to issue new textbooks based on the standards of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The EU continues to be the largest benefactor of the PA, which has seen donor funding significantly decrease since 2008, according to a November report by the World Bank. “While we wholeheartedly support EU funding for the PA, EU taxpayer money must never be misused for incitement,” wrote the lawmakers. “We urge you to include the possibility of a reduction of funding in case the PA continues to refuse to make the necessary changes in the textbooks.” Israeli education watchdog IMPACT-se issued a report in January highlighting examples of antisemitism in the PA’s curriculum for the 2021-2022 school year, including study cards for 11th graders that accuse Jews of being “in control of global events through financial power” and leveraging “Zionist influence” to trigger wars between major powers. Marcus Sheff, the CEO of IMPACT-se, said on Wednesday that the parliament members who wrote to the European Commission are “angry and frustrated.” “After passing legislation condemning the Palestinian textbooks and after the European Union extracted a commitment that it would remove the hate, the Palestinian Authority clearly set out to deceive Brussels by simply reprinting the old books for the new year,” Sheff said. “The EU was entirely unaware of this and of the ten thousand pages of new, hateful teaching material the PA produced on their dime. The legislators have good reason to be outraged.”The Algemeiner — March 3, 2022
European Union lawmakers are urging the European Commission to consider reducing funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if it continues refusing to purge its K-12 curriculum of materials that “incite schoolchildren to hate Jews and emulate terrorists. This situation is simply intolerable, even more so as the EU is paying the salaries of the school teachers using this hateful material,” 32 members of the European Parliament wrote in a letter to the commission’s president on Tuesday. “This is a glaring violation of the most basic EU values and contradicts our common goal of working toward peace and the creation of a democratic Palestinian state.” The European Commission has for years declared a “zero tolerance” policy for antisemitism, the signatories noted, but neglected to hold the PA accountable for failing to issue new textbooks based on the standards of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The EU continues to be the largest benefactor of the PA, which has seen donor funding significantly decrease since 2008, according to a November report by the World Bank. “While we wholeheartedly support EU funding for the PA, EU taxpayer money must never be misused for incitement,” wrote the lawmakers. “We urge you to include the possibility of a reduction of funding in case the PA continues to refuse to make the necessary changes in the textbooks.” Israeli education watchdog IMPACT-se issued a report in January highlighting examples of antisemitism in the PA’s curriculum for the 2021-2022 school year, including study cards for 11th graders that accuse Jews of being “in control of global events through financial power” and leveraging “Zionist influence” to trigger wars between major powers. Marcus Sheff, the CEO of IMPACT-se, said on Wednesday that the parliament members who wrote to the European Commission are “angry and frustrated.” “After passing legislation condemning the Palestinian textbooks and after the European Union extracted a commitment that it would remove the hate, the Palestinian Authority clearly set out to deceive Brussels by simply reprinting the old books for the new year,” Sheff said. “The EU was entirely unaware of this and of the ten thousand pages of new, hateful teaching material the PA produced on their dime. The legislators have good reason to be outraged.”
JNS — March 3, 2022
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from 18 countries co-signed a letter calling for the reduction of funding to the Palestinian Authority if the latter continues to refuse to change its educational material that includes antisemitic incitement to violence and the demonization of Israel. The letter sent to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is based on a January report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), which revealed thousands of pages of new material produced by the PA that promotes hate and antisemitism. The pages were written by PA professionals whose salaries are directly funded by the European Union and taught by school teachers whose salaries are also paid by the EU. The new educational material was published after the European Commission committed to making sure that new P.A. textbooks produced in 2021 would not include antisemitism. The PA Ministry of Education also promised to publish revised textbooks for the current school year but instead reprinted last year’s problematic education material, IMPACT-se said. The new material contains content “that is worse than current or previous Palestinian textbooks, with a greater number of lessons that directly incite violence and propagate overt antisemitism,” the organization noted. “Years of negotiations with the PA and repeated Commission pledges of ‘zero tolerance’ for antisemitism have unfortunately failed to bring about the desired change,” the 32 MEPs wrote in their letter. “Palestinian children continue to be abused as they are being taught to hate. Asking the PA to revise these books is not an imposition but a self-evident and non-negotiable duty.” MEP Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, from the largest and most influential European Parliament party, said on Wednesday that antisemitic Palestinian textbooks “cannot go unanswered.” She called for a “tougher response” from the European Commission, saying that “zero tolerance to antisemitism is not just a slogan.” IMPACT-se reported last week that the EU was discussing the possibility of freezing funding to the PA if no changes are made to its textbooks.
Atlantic Council (Marcus Sheff) — March 2, 2022
Education is the key to fostering the development of peaceful and tolerant societies. However, it can also be a tool for political and religious radicalization, exploited by bad actors. Education not only reveals what a society believes at present, but also what it aspires to in the future—in other words, they are powerful political predictors. That is why when a country goes to great lengths to teach respect for the “other,” religious tolerance, and peacemaking as a way to resolve conflicts, it should be taken note of. In this case, that country is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). But what is it exactly that makes the Emirati curriculum so exceptional and how do textbooks affect the prospects of peace in the Middle East? Universal standardized education is a relatively new phenomenon in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and, unlike in the West, curricula in many Arab or Muslim majority countries are written, published, and disseminated directly by the state. Textbooks are already uniquely authoritative, but that is even more the case in the MENA region. Students typically receive one book per subject per semester, which contain both the officially-approved knowledge and exercises students use to study. Recognizing this power, some authorities have weaponized education to foster negative feelings and beliefs about enemies of the state. This can be directed at ethnic minorities, entire religious groups, and countries far beyond their borders. Historically, a primary target for demonization in the region has, unsurprisingly, been Jews and Israel. Through extreme religious interpretations, historical distortions, and, in some cases, outright conspiracy theories, some MENA countries use curricula to perpetuate broad-based fear and hatred. This deprives their youth of an alternative vision of peace and mutual prosperity. IMPACT-se has been examining school curricula since 1998, using United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-derived standards as a universal benchmark. After reviewing 220 Emirati school books for grades 1–12 during the 2021–22 school year, IMPACT-se has yet to see another curriculum that has transformed itself not only to comply with these standards, but to actually prepare its population for a new era of peace and tolerance. It’s no coincidence that, within their first year of formal relations, Israel and the UAE have conducted an estimated $600 million worth of business transactions and hundreds of thousands of tourists have traveled between the two countries in the middle of a global pandemic. Compare this to other states that have made peace with Israel but their populations have yet to approach this level of economic and cultural exchange. Even if it were argued that the textbooks aren’t a causal mechanism, the support for peace and religious tolerance in the Emirati curriculum reflects a dramatic change in what values the UAE seeks to impart to the next generation. More importantly, what can be learned from the Emirati curriculum is that this kind of normalization doesn’t happen in a vacuum—it must be supported and fostered in the classroom.
The Times of Israel — February 24, 2022
Millions of euros in European Union aid to the Palestinian Authority are stuck in Brussels as officials in the European Commission discuss whether to condition parts of the foreign assistance on reforms to Palestinian textbooks, The Times of Israel has learned. The European Union, the PA’s largest single donor, helps to pay the salaries of the PA’s many civil servants, which constitutes a significant chunk of the West Bank economy. Between 2008 and 2020, Brussels sent around $2.5 billion in direct budget support to the PA. But citing “technical difficulties,” the bloc has donated almost no aid to the authority since 2020. The lack of funding has contributed to fears that Ramallah will see a fiscal crisis. According to a diplomat who asked for anonymity to freely discuss the sensitive subject, the delay in sending EU funds to the Palestinians began as a technical matter. But the process was substantially gummed up when an official in the European Commission in Brussels sought to condition parts of the aid on changes to Palestinian textbooks, the diplomat said. Israeli, European and American officials have long criticized alleged incitement in Palestinian textbooks. Palestinians reject that argument, saying that the curricula express the Palestinian national narrative. According to the diplomat, EU official Oliver Varhelyi demanded “clear process indicators” for some aid to check whether the textbooks adhered to international standards. The debate launched a drawn-out “consultative process” inside the EU that drew in various states and delayed the approval of the aid. According to officials in the European Parliament who spoke with The Times of Israel, Varhelyi proposed that around $10 million be withheld unless PA textbooks were found to meet international standards. IMPACT-se, a nonprofit that monitors textbooks for incitement, hailed Varhelyi’s proposal to condition the funding. The nonprofit recently released a report arguing that the PA had failed to change its educational materials despite pledges to the EU to do so. “This step by the EU is the entirely predictable result of the Palestinian Authority breaching its own agreement with the EU to take the hate out of the textbooks, agreed upon only a few months ago,” said IMPACT-se director Marcus Sheff.
This IMPACT-se report provides a list of 134 selected examples from 220 textbooks in the United Arab Emirates’ national curriculum, between 2016–21. The examples illustrate the findings of our latest research report, “When Peace Goes to School: The Emirati Curriculum 2016-2021,” presenting lessons on peace, tolerance, and cooperation with the world and non-nationals, which are taught to be closely associated with prosperity and national identity. The language and moral education programs especially encourage cultural diversity, curiosity, and happiness. Additionally, the Abraham Accords are taught, and anti-Israeli material has been moderated. The research did not find antisemitism or incitement to violence, and UNESCO guidelines for peace and tolerance are generally met. Selected Examples
The Algemeiner (Marcus Sheff)– February 22, 2022
In June 2021, after years of educating, persuading, presenting the hard facts, and preventing a whitewash, the European Union released its report on Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks. The EU found, inevitably, that these Palestinian education materials teach antisemitism, incite violence, glorify terror, and have removed all previous references to peace negotiations. Maciej Popowski, whose directorate commissioned the study and oversees all aid to the Palestinian education sector, said, “It is very clear that the study does reveal the existence of very deeply problematic content that remains of serious concern.” He added that the EU “will not let off until we see change happen and we get assurances that no questionable content in books are in use.” Fernando Gentilini, the top Mideast diplomat at the EU, stated that “one would have to draw conclusions” if the PA does not take action. Another top EU director, Henrike Trautman, said, “changes to the curriculum are essential.” And EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, who oversees all aid to the Palestinian education sector, wrote that any “inappropriate use of EU funding” will mean that PA funds can be taken away. By September 2021, the PA—finally faced with the prospect of losing funding from its largest donor—agreed to a “roadmap” with the EU Commission. This should have been the moment that hate, antisemitism, and incitement to violence were finally taken out of the Palestinian curriculum, and replaced with peace education. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) analyzed the 2021–22 Palestinian curriculum, and found no positive changes. The Palestinian Authority had simply taken all of the 2020 textbooks, replaced the date stamp with 2021, and reprinted thousands of copies. The European Commission was not even aware this had happened until IMPACT-se presented them with its report. Even as the PA agreed to a roadmap for textbook change with the EU, its Ministry of Education was writing thousands of pages of new material—study cards—roughly equivalent in size to all the textbooks in the curriculum. The material, in some places, contained content even worse than the current Palestinian textbooks, with a greater number of lessons that directly incite violence and propagate overt antisemitism. Israel is demonized; it is literally described as Satanic. One of the rules of jihad included in the texts explains that those who die as martyrs while killing infidels—Christians, Jews, and polytheists—will receive God’s grace and be greatly rewarded. In fact, jihad for the liberation of Palestine is described as a “private obligation for every Muslim,” and students are encouraged to sacrifice themselves for their homeland and “redeem it with blood.” PA Prime Minister Shtayyeh made it clear that there would be no changes to the textbooks at a PA Cabinet meeting in September 2021. Shtayyeh stated that “everything mentioned in the textbooks is an accurate and honest description of the suffering our people have been going through for more than seven decades.” It is this uncompromising rejection of any plan to offer Palestinian children some hope for an education conducive to peace and tolerance—and the total unwillingness to finally jettison the teaching of hate—that the European Commission now needs to digest and address.
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JNS — February 4, 2022
The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) has uncovered thousands of pages of new teaching material produced by the Palestinian Authority that directly calls for violence and promotes antisemitism, even after promising European Union donors it would implement changes. IMPACT-se found that rather than publishing revised textbooks as promised, the P.A. reprinted last years’ criticized textbooks for use in the current school year. In parallel, it produced thousands of pages of new material, roughly equivalent in size to all the textbooks in the curriculum. The new material contains content that has been determined as worse than current or previous Palestinian textbooks, with a greater number of lessons that directly incite violence and propagate overt antisemitism. For example, the material demands that students die as martyrs to liberate the Al-Aqsa mosque and explains that those who die as martyrs killing infidels (Christians and Jews), will receive grace and be greatly rewarded. IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said the P.A. “seems to have gone to a great deal of effort to hoodwink its donors. Faced with a clear call by the E.U. for them to create new textbooks free of hate and antisemitism, the P.A. simply reprinted the old ones, then produced thousands of pages of new teaching material with content worse than the textbooks themselves.” IMPACT-se presented its findings to representatives from the EU Commission, as well as to parliament members in Brussels, who had no knowledge that the old textbooks were still being used in Palestinian and UNRWA schools, or that a set of new, hate-filled materials had been produced in 2021. In contrast to students in the P.A., those in the United Arab Emirates related to the school curriculum have been updated to teach values of peace and tolerance. In what can be viewed as a sure sign of change in the region, many examples of antisemitism or incitement have been removed from the curriculum. IMPACT-se also released a report on Jan. 20 examining 220 Arab-language textbooks in grades one through 12 from the UAE’s national curriculum, printed between 2016 and 2021. Passages that previously demonized Israel, presented antisemitic conspiracies and blamed “the Zionist enemy” for seeking to exterminate the Palestinian people have been removed. Passages focusing on tolerance towards Jews are widespread throughout the textbooks. Especially noteworthy is the removal of a passage that presented the Palestinian issue as “the basis of conflicts in the Middle East.” IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff told JNS, “Emirati textbooks are reflective of the assessment made by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed over a decade ago that the West is a potential ally and not a colonial threat; that radicalism is categorically wrong and self-defeating, and that Emirati prosperity in a competitive global marketplace will be built on a tolerant and peace-loving workforce.”
This IMPACT-se report analyzed textbooks and new “study cards” produced by the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the 2021–22 school year, which are used in the curricula of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and UNRWA schools, and includes selected examples from several hundred pages of educational content. Contrary to the assurances made by the PA to its international partners that improvements would be made rapidly to improve the 2020–21 curriculum, IMPACT-se found that there were no revisions to the PA curriculum for the current 2021–22 school year. In addition to the lack of PA-assured textbook revisions, research on the supplemental online learning materials, called study cards, found that the PA Ministry of Education published the same, and worse, content in violation of international standards of peace, tolerance, and non-violence in education. Selected Examples
CBN — January 31, 2022
The Palestinian Authority has failed to remove educational materials that incite children to violence and teach them antisemitism, according to a report from an Israeli education watchdog. Last year, the PA agreed to work with European leaders to address the issues in Palestinian textbooks after an EU-funded study found that the education materials glorify terrorists, delegitimize Israel and reject peace. After the 2021 study was made public, European Commission spokesperson, Ana Pisonero, said the EU would work with the PA to establish an “objective and credible process for screening and monitoring of educational materials.” However, the Israeli nonprofit IMPACT-se says the Palestinian textbooks remain unchanged. “Despite the recognition by all of the PA curriculum’s serious problematic content, commitments to education reform, and the alleged implementation of promised education monitoring processes, IMPACT-se found that there were no revisions made to the PA curriculum for the current 2021–22 school year,” IMPACT-se said in a report published this month. The organization pointed to numerous examples. Israel is characterized as satanic and students are “directly incited to violence and instructed to commit jihad against Israelis and die as martyrs,” the IMPACT-se report says. The textbooks also accuse Israel of lying about Jewish history to justify its existence and promote terrorists as role models for children—including Dalal Mughrabi—who is known for her role in a 1978 terror attack that killed 38 civilians, including 13 children. In one education book, children are taught that Jews control world events and that Zionism is a “racist ideology.” “The PA did not revise its curriculum, despite promises to international partners that it would do so; and the PA Ministry of Education is still investing resources to produce and teach violent and hateful content in the current school year through parallel teaching materials (study cards). In fact, some of the lessons taught in these study cards represent a worsening of problematic material compared to lessons taught in the original textbooks they are supposed to supplement,” IMPACT-se concluded. The PA denies that its textbooks incite violence and merely promote Palestinian nationalism. “We are made to explain and justify what appears in our educational materials, even though it explains our narrative and our national identity. Meanwhile, no one demands to review Israeli curricula and media, so the world can see the true incitement by Israeli institutions,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas said in an address at the UN last year. The EU is the largest donor to the PA, and some leaders have said aid to the Palestinians must be conditional upon changes to textbook material. EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, whose portfolio covers aid to the PA and UNRWA, said in June that the problematic material in Palestinian textbooks is “inappropriate use of EU funding. Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League urged the EU to “hold the Palestinian Authority accountable” for the unchanged curriculum. IMPACT-se head Marcus Sheff said in a statement that the Palestinian Authority “seems to have gone to a great deal of effort to hoodwink its donors.”
The Times of Israel — January 30, 2022
Palestinian Authority textbooks have remained largely unchanged and still contain incitement to violence and hatred despite European Union pledges to work with the PA to revise them, a study by the Israeli nonprofit IMPACT-se found last week. Following an in-depth study of Palestinian textbooks conducted in 2021, a European Union spokesperson had said that while most PA educational materials were in line with international standards, some promoted “antagonism towards Israel.” “We have agreed to work with the Palestinian Authority to this end… with the express purpose of promoting and facilitating change,” she said. “The European Union has absolutely no tolerance for hatred and violence as a means to achieve political goals.” According to the IMPACT-se report, however, many of the same problematic curricula remain in use in Palestinian Authority schools several months later. The report brings numerous examples of what the organization calls incitement to violent terrorism. Dalal Mughrabi, notorious in Israel for her role in a brutal 1978 terror attack, is hailed in the textbooks as a heroic resistance fighter. Violence is described as a “legitimate right” for Palestinians seeking to “resist occupation.” The report brings numerous examples of what the organization calls incitement to violent terrorism. Dalal Mughrabi, notorious in Israel for her role in a brutal 1978 terror attack, is hailed in the textbooks as a heroic resistance fighter. Violence is described as a “legitimate right” for Palestinians seeking to “resist occupation.” In one Islamic Education textbook, Palestinian fifth-graders are told that their “duty to Al-Aqsa Mosque”—Islam’s third-holiest site—includes “jihad and martyrdom in pursuit of its liberation.” The nonprofit notes that Israeli rule is frequently described as “murderous and oppressive.” The textbooks also say Zionism is a “racist ideology” based on “false premises” such as that Jews belong to “a single national group.” Palestinians reject the argument that their textbooks constitute incitement. In a speech to the United Nations last year, PA President Mahmoud Abbas defended the curriculum as merely expressing their national narrative. Some European Union parliamentarians have advocated tighter restrictions on aid to Ramallah until the latter revises its textbooks’ content. A measure pitched last year to condition EU funding on such revisions was ultimately scrapped. “The Palestinian Authority seems to have gone to a great deal of effort to hoodwink its donors. Faced with a clear call by the EU for them to create new textbooks free of hate and antisemitism, the PA simply reprinted the old ones,” IMPACT-SE head Marcus Sheff said in a statement.
The Jerusalem Post (Marcus Sheff) — January 29, 2022
When President Isaac Herzog flies to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, marking the first official visit of an Israeli president to the Gulf state, he will be welcomed by the man who is arguably the Middle East’s most effective educational reformer. According to The New York Times, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also known as MBZ, undertook a bottom-up review of all of his country’s vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks after 9/11. Among other things, MBZ took a long, hard look at the UAE’s education ministry which Islamists had previously made into a state within a state of sorts, demanding a sweeping rewrite of the country’s textbooks. This reformed curriculum has been reviewed by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) in a report authored by Dr. Eldad Pardo and released this week. The UAE is developing strategically to secure a stake in the emerging world order and understands that education for tolerance and peaceful coexistence is critical for societies to flourish. Emirati students are taught that prosperity and national pride are intrinsically linked to peace and tolerance, a theme that runs throughout the curriculum. Textbooks take the psychological well-being of their students seriously, educating young generations morally and spiritually for a rapidly changing global society. Peaceful coexistence and love among people are not just a moral obligation but are also portrayed as sensible and worthwhile. Imagination and curiosity toward other cultures and civilizations are encouraged. Positivity and experiencing happiness are fundamental values for leading a rich, fulfilling and healthy life. It is instructive to compare this approach with the dark, violent, and Manichaean curricula of Iran and the Palestinian Authority. We found no instances of antisemitism in the textbooks. In fact, messaging focused on tolerance toward Jews is widespread throughout the texts. Normalization with Israel is legitimized by authoritative Islamic organizations and taught within the Islamic education program in three classes (Grades 6, 8 and 12). Solidarity with other Arab countries regarding the Palestinian cause remains strong but Palestinian issues are no longer described as “the foundation of the conflicts and struggles in the Middle East, and the key to the solution” of the region’s problems, as was previously the case. But, Israel is still not directly referenced on maps. There are hints to its existence, but baby steps will no longer be enough while strong and lasting bridges are being built between the new allies. The basic building block of the curriculum is Emirati nationalism, independence and patriotism. Sacrifice and martyrdom in the defense of the country are honored. Awareness of security and military concerns are inculcated into teachings, along with wider perspectives aimed at peace and conflict resolution. As with the rest of the Gulf region, the UAE faces structural challenges to maintaining its national cohesion and solidarity, blending large income gaps with social justice, local citizenry with an extremely large immigrant and expat community; women’s integration and ambition with traditional family values and adherence to orthodox Islam. The authors of the Emirati curriculum have risen to the challenge. This investment toward merging high-quality, forward-looking education for peace and tolerance with moral values and national education is a satisfying blueprint for teaching in the region.
The National Interest (Marcus Sheff) — January 29, 2022
As the higher education system in Syria disintegrates and 2.4 million young people in the country receive no schooling whatsoever, one would be forgiven for underestimating the importance of education in the turmoil that envelops Syria. Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez, who ruled as president from 1971 to 2000, pursued a policy of youth recruitment and indoctrination for his Ba’ath party. A similar focus continues under his successor. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), a research and advocacy organization that monitors and analyzes education, issued two reports—one in 2001 and another in 2018—demonstrating a stark continuity in the Syrian curriculum in regime-controlled areas over the last twenty years. Since 2011, the importance of education has been reflected in attempts by warring groups to reform the education system in areas under their control. Over the past decade, students have been taught widely disparate curricula depending on which faction rules the area in which they are educated. Those in regime-controlled locales are subject to the same indoctrination those living under an Assad regime have become accustomed to over the past half-century. The regime is not the only ruler pursuing educational dogma. Those in territory controlled by the rebels experience parallel systems. Educational courses imposed by the Islamic State (ISIS) swap science, math, and reason for “jihad and sacrifice for the sake of God.” IMPACT-se’s 2018 analysis found that the regime not only sharply shapes youngsters’ views of their own nation but their perception of the outside world as well. The multi-faceted civil (and proxy) war in Syria is reflected in the textbooks children are exposed to. Unsurprisingly, Russia is viewed overwhelmingly positively. Since 2014, foreign language studies include Russian, and students now choose between French and Russian as their second foreign language (English is first). Conversely, Turkey, which has maintained a strong anti-regime position, is denigrated. Its “Ottomanism and pan-Turkic imperial drive” is portrayed as being a threat to Syria’s pan-Arab ideology. IMPACT-se found that Turkey’s approach to Islamism and the Islamic way of life is painted by the regime’s textbooks as being incompatible with the “Syrian worldview.” On the other hand, the IMPACT-se analysts found, also unsurprisingly, that Israel, alongside its Western allies, is portrayed highly negatively. It is not directly named but merely dubbed the “Racist/Terrorist/Zionist Entity,” and Jews are the subject of age-old antisemitic tropes. In light of the above, it is little wonder that the researchers concluded that vast swathes of the curriculum do not meet UNESCO standards and guidelines for education, peace, and tolerance. Rather, the curriculum is riddled with mendacities that support the regime’s twisted worldview and impose it on malleable youngsters. At present, those who do have access to education are indoctrinated, which has contributed to the nation’s tumult, the 2018 IMPACT-se analysis concluded. In place of intolerance, sacrifice, and slavish pro-regime messages, children must be taught objectively. Classrooms should be places free of ideology and full of curiosity and progress—not merely theatres for the continuation of conflict by other means.
The Algemeiner — January 28, 2022
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has failed to uphold promises made to purge its curriculum of antisemitic and violent themes, a report by an Israeli education watchdog charged on Thursday. Last September, PA officials agreed with European partners to reform its curriculum, after an EU funded report by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI) determined that its textbooks contained antisemitic tropes, glorifications of terrorists and violence against civilians, and no mention of Israel on any maps. The problem persists through the current academic year, says IMPACT-se’s January 2022 report, “Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education Study Cards 2021-2022: Selected Examples.” The Israel-based NGO “found that there were no revisions made to the PA curriculum for the current 2021-22 school year.” “Contrary to the assurances made by the PA to its international partners that improvements would be made rapidly, the same problematic material identified in the 2020-21 textbooks by the GEI and IMPACT-se are still taught to students today,” said IMPACT-se, which studies curricula across the Middle East. “The Palestinian Authority seems to have gone to a great deal effort to hoodwink its donor,” IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said on Thursday. “Faced with a clear call by the EU for them to create new textbooks free of hate and antisemitism, the PA simply reprinted the only ones then produced thousands of pages of new teaching material with content worse than the textbooks themselves.” Students are shown antisemitic material as early as grade 7, said IMPACT-se. In the textbook Arabic Language, Vol. 1, Israeli soldiers are called “Satan’s aides” in a chapter imploring Muslims to “liberate” the Al-Aqsa Mosque “from the grasp of occupation.” Across various subjects in PA textbooks and study cards for all ages, students are encouraged to venerate terrorists, kill “infidels,” pursue the “Right of Return” to Israel with “all the means of warfare,” and disavow any notion of Jewish nationality and the right of Israel to exist. Israel still does not appear on any maps of the region. “The EU was apparently unaware of any of this,” Sheff continued. “The majority of the EU’s donations to the PA goes to its education sector, so one has to ask what the EU delegation to Ramallah actually knows about what goes on in PA schools. At a time when the PA is facing a major budget crisis, they’re doubling down on teaching the hate that donor nations said they could no longer tolerate.” After publication of the GEI report last year, members of the European Parliament said continued funding of the Palestinian Ministry of Education without changes to the content of its curriculum risks the body’s credibility. “We cannot accept that this is financed with EU taxpayer money, ” German MEP Niclas Herbst, Budget Committee Vice Chair, said in September. “We should have zero tolerance when it comes to antisemitism and it has to be free of hate speech.”
The Jerusalem Post — January 28, 2022
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reneged on an agreement with the EU to revise its academic curriculum in 2021 and has instead promoted new academic materials that feature hateful language and violent imagery, a January 2022 report by The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) discovered. Despite a roadmap created in tandem with the European Union to ensure new textbooks produced in 2021 would be free of hate—an initiative started following the publication of an EU funded study on Palestinian textbooks that discovered rampant antisemitism and violent references—the PA has not removed the troubling content from its textbooks, which are used to educate public school children in PA-administered regions. “Faced with a clear call by the EU for them to create new textbooks free of hate and antisemitism, the PA simply reprinted the old ones, then produced thousands of pages of new teaching material with content worse than the textbooks themselves,” said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff. “The EU was apparently unaware of any of this.” While neglecting their promise to edit the textbooks, the PA produced thousands of pages of new material—much of it directly propagating violence and overt antisemitism. For instance, some materials teach of the “characteristics” of Jews who are devious and treacherous and Israelis, who are described as “Satan’s aide.” The new hateful learning materials span across school subjects. Science classes use illustrations of a boy with a slingshot to illustrate the transfer of energy, while Geography classes remove all mention of Israel. History classes are particularly controversial, as much focus is spent on recording Jewish control of global events via means of money and power. The Jewish “takeover” of Palestine is also a point of emphasis on the educational materials, as the journey of how “Zionist influence” led to the takeover of Palestine by Jews is among the most broadly covered educational topic. The new content also inspires children to pursue jihad and remove Jews from Palestine, saying that jihad is the “private obligation for every Muslim” and that “martyrs” who die while killing “infidels” will receive God’s grace and be greatly rewarded. “It is very clear that the study does reveal the existence of very deeply problematic content that remains of serious concern,” said Maciej Popowski, whose directorate commissioned the study and who oversees all aid to the Palestinian education sector, in September amid the agreement to revise PA curricula. He added that the EU “will not let off until we see change happen and we get assurances that no questionable content in books are in use. At a time when the PA is facing a major budget crisis, they’re doubling down on teaching the hate that donor nations said they could no longer tolerate,” Sheff declared.
International Policy Digest (Marcus Sheff) — January 27, 2022
The attack on Abu Dhabi by Iran-backed Houthi rebels early Monday is the latest attack to target the Emirati capital. Supported by Iran, which has been instrumental in the development of the Houthi drone and missile program, the organization has co-opted the country’s education system as a tool in its arsenal for spreading radical influence over the region. With its messaging penetrating the mainstream education system, this is used as both a tool for recruitment as well as a means of further radicalizing students. A review of Houthi materials conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) exposed some of the most egregious of these violations of international standards of peace and tolerance in current educational curricula across the region. Iranian influence in the nature of this educational content is evident, and Houthi educational materials mimic much of the Khomeinist rhetoric of the Iranian regime, of which it is a proxy. These examples are just a brief, albeit worrying, insight into the violent Houthi mindset and serve as a prime example of how education can be weaponized for the purposes of perpetuating conflict. In stark contrast, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken a radically different educational path. New IMPACT-se research on the Emirati curriculum for Grades 1-12, aptly titled “When Peace Goes to School,” shows a curriculum that teaches students to value multicultural principles alongside inculcating a respect for others. It encourages curiosity and dialogue and promotes positive concepts, such as experiencing happiness, as fundamental values necessary for leading a rich, fulfilling, and healthy life. It praises love, affection, and family ties with non-Muslims. Interfaith relations, particularly with the Christian community, are evident along with expressions of tolerance toward Judaism. The report did not find examples of antisemitism or incitement but rather, a curriculum that generally meets UNESCO guidelines for peace and tolerance. In the 26 years that IMPACT-se has been reviewing curricula in the Arab and Muslim world, the UAE textbooks most closely meet UNESCO’s standards of peace and tolerance. It is head and shoulders above the regional norm in the teaching of peace, religious tolerance, and acceptance of the other. It could and should be a model for others to emulate, with its direct impact on the country’s economic successes evident. Children who are encouraged to learn about other cultures and work together are indeed more likely to create, innovate and develop. Those who are taught to hate and suspect foreigners are likely to grow up closed-minded and with a feeling of resentment towards the other. The region would do well to take a page out of the UAE textbook.
The Turbulent World of ME Soccer — January 22, 2022
An Israeli NGO gives the United Arab Emirates high marks for mandating schoolbooks that teach tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and engagement with non-Muslims. “The Emirati curriculum generally meets international standards for peace and tolerance. Textbooks are free of hate and incitement against others. The curriculum teaches students to value the principle of respect for other cultures and encourages curiosity and dialogue. It praises love, affection, and family ties with non-Muslims,” the 128-page study by The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) concluded. However, at the same time, the report appeared in its evaluation of Emirati textbooks to hue closely to Israeli policy towards the UAE and, more generally, most states that populate the Middle East. The report notes positively that the textbooks “offer a realistic approach to peace and security,” a reference to the UAE’s recognition of Israel in 2020, its downplaying of efforts to address Palestinian aspirations, and its visceral opposition to any form of political Islam with debilitating consequences in countries like Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. The report notes that “support for the Palestinian cause continues but no longer (is) seen as key to solving the broader range of regional challenges. Radicalism and hate are the chief threat. Iranian expansionism is a threat.” To its credit, the report implicitly states that Emirati concepts of tolerance are not universal but subject to what the country’s rulers define as its national interests. As a result, it points out that “the People’s Republic of China is surprisingly described as a tolerant, multicultural society, which respects religions” despite the brutal crackdown on religious and ethnic expressions of Turkic Muslim identity in the north-western province of Xinjiang. IMPACT-se further notes that the textbooks fail to teach the Middle East’s history of slavery. The report insists that the Holocaust and the history of Jews, particularly in the Middle East, should be taught but makes no similar demand for multiple other minorities, including those accused of being heretics. The NGO suggests that the UAE could also improve its educational references to Israel. The report takes note that “anti-Israeli material has been moderated” in textbooks that teach “cooperating with allies” and “peacemaking” as priorities. However, UAE recognition of Israel does not mean that a map of Israel is included in the teaching of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
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i24 — January 21, 2022
Marcus Sheff, CEO of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, spoke with i24NEWS on how the UAE’s textbooks are building a more tolerant society. “I think it’s fair to say that in the 26 years that we have been reviewing curricula in the Arab and in the Muslim world, this most closely meets UNESCO’s standards of peace and tolerance,” Sheff said. Schoolbooks are more inclusive, often covering interfaith interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims. “It is head and shoulders above the norm in the region in the teaching of peace, religious tolerance, and acceptance of the other … [and] clearly could be a model for others to emulate.” The CEO explained how textbooks are an important tool for setting the stage for a more peaceful and tolerant society by educating the next generation on such values. “Children are asked to think about what tolerance means, and to comment on it, so that’s really critical thinking,” he noted. Textbooks also covered the topic of Iran from a perspective of security threats – addressing the Islamic republic’s aggression towards its neighbors. Though a number of books are still reluctant to identify Israel on maps within—and even place the Palestinian flag over the state instead in some cases—Sheff said real change is occurring nonetheless. “On one hand, we’re seeing so much tolerance and so much material which demonized Israel—antisemitic conspiracies about the Zionist movement, and its ‘imperial aspirations’ have been taken out.” “Putting Israel on the map I think is the next obvious stage,” he said. Complete Report
JNS — January 21, 2022
Textbooks in the United Arab Emirates promote peace and normalization with Jews and Israel; however, the Jewish state is still not on school maps, according to new research released by an Israeli watchdog group. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) released a report on Thursday examining 220 Arab-language textbooks in grades one through 12 from the UAE’s national curriculum, printed between 2016 and 2021. IMPACT-se discovered that peacemaking was “by far” the top priority discussed in the textbooks that were analyzed. The books also “offer a realistic approach to peace and security, teach patriotism, anti-radicalism, commitment to defending the homeland and cooperating with allies,” said the report. Even the Islamic-education program in UAE schools “emphasizes tolerance, coexistence and friendly relations with all non-Muslims and ethnicities.” IMPACT-se said it didn’t find antisemitism, hate or incitement in the textbooks, and that UNESCO guidelines for peace and tolerance “are generally met.” But while the 2020 Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between the UAE and Israel, are praised in textbooks and anti-Israeli material has been largely removed or moderated, Israel is not displayed in maps, and Holocaust education is not taught. In terms of how the Middle East is portrayed, the textbooks describe Iranian expansionism as a threat, and support for the Palestinian cause is no longer seen as a solution to solving the broader range of issues in the region. The textbooks also encourage students to exhibit tolerance and respect among non-Muslims, especially Jews and Christians. “School education is the key to fostering the development of peaceful, tolerant societies, and the UAE curriculum’s authors seem determined to follow that path, relentlessly educating young Emiratis to understand the centrality of peace and employing Koranic verses to teach tolerance. Coexistence with Jews, Christians and other religions is a central feature while the authors have ensured that antisemitism has now been eradicated from the curriculum,” said Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se. “This determination to foster a peaceful and tolerant education extends to Israel: the Abraham Accords feature in three separate textbooks and children are taught that the treaty carries Islamic scholarly approval. This can only bolster people-to-people normalization.”
The Times of Israel — January 20, 2022
Textbooks in the United Arab Emirates promote peace and religious tolerance toward Jews, but Israel is still missing from maps, according to a study released Thursday. The report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), titled “When Peace Goes to School: The Emirati Curriculum 2016-21,” examined 220 Arabic-language textbooks in government schools in grades 1-12, covering civics, history, Arabic literature, and Islam. The curriculum “praises love, affection, and family ties with non-Muslims,” read the report. “Interfaith relations, particularly with Christianity, are evident along with expressions of tolerance toward Judaism. The report did not find examples of antisemitism or incitement.” But while tolerance toward Jews is encouraged — Islamic education lessons feature anecdotes about Muhammad and Caliph Omar acting kindly toward Jews in the Quran and the Hadith — the textbooks show both encouraging and problematic signs about Israel. The 2020 Abraham Accords that normalized ties with Israel are taught from Grade 6, with a focus on endorsements of the agreement by Emirati Islamic organizations. The accords are presented variously as a path to prosperity, a commitment to peace and cooperation, and even a way to support the Palestinian cause. In addition, many sentences that portrayed Israel in a negative light were removed from prior textbooks on a range of topics. Yet, more than a year after Abraham Accords, Israel is still not on any textbook maps, with one exception. Some maps do hint at Israel’s existence in the negative space around the borders of a Palestinian entity, or show Israel’s border without its name. Other problematic content around Israel can occasionally be found. In history lessons on Arab-Israeli wars, Israel is presented in quotation marks, signaling that it is not a real country. Zionism is also portrayed negatively … There is no teaching of the history of Jews in the region, nor is there any mention of the Holocaust. There are, however, extensive lessons on Palestinian history and literature. Even with these lessons, the trend is overwhelmingly positive, said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff. “Our report found that anti-Israel material has been significantly moderated and now extremely rarely exists,” Sheff emphasized. “Passages that previously demonized Israel [and] antisemitic conspiracies that the Zionist movement has imperial aspirations to extend from the Nile River to the Euphrates with the support of ‘Global Colonialism,’ and that blamed the Zionist enemy for seeking to exterminate the Palestinian people, have all been removed. In effect there has been a wholesale removal of problematic examples and a considerable, strategic shift to moderate and tolerant material. Especially noteworthy in relation to Jews and Israel is the removal by the authors of a passage that presented the Palestinian issue as ‘the basis of conflicts in the Middle East.'” The report’s author Eldad J. Pardo gave the curriculum “high marks for its pursuit of peace and tolerance,” and said its message “constitutes the best tool for combating radicalism and violence while building a viable future for the Emirates.”
The Algemeiner — January 20, 2022
A year and a half after the Abraham Accords normalized ties between the United Arab Emirates and the Jewish state, an Israeli education watchdog found that K-12 textbooks in the Emirates embrace the treaty and generally shun anti-Israel and antisemitic material. Released Thursday by the Israel-based IMPACT-se, the report—“When Peace Goes to School: The Emirati Curriculum”—found that the textbooks promote tolerance of and positive engagement with Jews and Christians based on principles based in Islamic theology. “It is by far most tolerant and peaceful Arab or Muslim majority country curriculum that the institute had reviewed, in over a quarter of a century of research,” the group’s CEO, Marcus Sheff, told The Algemeiner. “Textbooks offer a realistic approach to peace and security, teach patriotism, anti-radicalism, commitment to defending the homeland, and cooperating with allies; peacemaking is by the priority,” said the report. “The large Islamic education program emphasizes tolerance, coexistence, and friendly relations with all non-Muslims and ethnicities.” IMPACT-se—which has issued reports on Israeli, Palestinian, Iranian, Turkish and a range of other curricula across the Middle East—evaluated 220 Arabic-language textbooks, applying standards based on UNESCO and UN declarations. The group lamented that the State of Israel has been erased from all but one map of the Middle East, either described as “Palestine” or visible only as an empty silhouette. But it noted that the 2020 Abraham Accords are discussed in materials for students in grades 6, 8 and 12, along with endorsements by leading Islamic UAE organizations. A number of depictions of Israeli and the conflict with the Palestinians had been revised in recent years, IMPACT-se found. In one 11th grade social studies textbook, quotations of Emirati founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan were revised to remove criticism of the idea that Palestinians should recognize the Jewish state. However, parts of Emirati curriculum remained “hostile” to Jews, including a grade 11 lesson describing Muhammad’s filling “[Jews] hearts with horror”—for, the report said, “supposedly violating their commitment to support Muhammad.” In a lesson drawn from a passage from the hadith, students are told not to “resemble the Jews.” And the materials say nothing about the Holocaust or the history of Jews or other minorities in the Middle East. “Changes are needed,” the report emphasized. It noted that the material only partially fosters gender equality—encouraging women’s participation in “all walks of life,” but urging men and women to follow traditional Islamic family values and for women to obey their husbands. Still, Sheff said Thursday in further comments, the group’s first-ever review of the Emirati curriculum was encouraging.
“School education is the key to fostering the development of peaceful, tolerant societies and the UAE curriculum’s authors seem determined to follow that path, relentlessly educating young Emiratis to understand the centrality of peace and employing Qur’anic verses to teach tolerance,” he said. “Coexistence with Jews, Christians, and other religions is a central feature while the authors have ensured that antisemitism has now been eradicated from the curriculum. This can only bolster people-to-people normalization,” he added.
Hamodia — January 20, 2022
Textbooks in the United Arab Emirates have been updated to reflect normalization with Israel, except on maps of the Mideast where Israel still does not exist. According to a report released on Thursday by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), the UAE curriculum contains “expressions of tolerance toward Judaism, and its authors “did not find examples of antisemitism or incitement.” Many passages that portrayed Israel in a negative light were expunged on a range of topics, the report found. But some do remain. For example, “Likewise, Palestine, which was burdened by the yoke of creating a new ‘national home’ for the Jews on its lands, has also witnessed strong Arab resistance to Zionist greedy ambitions since the moment of its establishment,” reads a Grade 11 history book. Yet, more than a year after signing of the Abraham Accords, Israel has not made it onto the textbook maps, with one exception. Some maps merely hint at Israel’s existence in the negative space around the borders of a Palestinian entity, or show Israel’s border without its name. Israel is not only missing from the maps, Jews are missing from the Mideast. There is no teaching of the history of Jews in the region, nor is there any mention of the Holocaust. There are, however, extensive lessons on Palestinian history and literature. On balance, the trend is overwhelmingly positive, said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff. “Our report found that anti-Israel material has been significantly moderated and now extremely rarely exists. Passages that previously demonized Israel; antisemitic conspiracies that the Zionist movement has imperial aspirations to extend from the Nile River to the Euphrates with the support of ‘Global Colonialism,’ and that blamed the Zionist enemy for seeking to exterminate the Palestinian people, have all been removed. In effect there has been a wholesale removal of problematic examples and a considerable, strategic shift to moderate and tolerant material. Especially noteworthy in relation to Jews and Israel is the removal by the authors of a passage that presented the Palestinian issue as ‘the basis of conflicts in the Middle East.’”
This IMPACT-se report evaluates the UAE’s national curriculum for the 2021–22 academic school year. Among the findings: The curriculum teaches that prosperity and national pride are closely associated with peace and tolerance and encourages cooperation with the world and non-nationals. There is a realistic approach to peace and security; textbooks teach patriotism, anti-radicalism, commitment to defending the homeland and cooperating with allies, with a priority on peacemaking. Language and moral education programs encourage cultural diversity, curiosity and happiness. Students prepare for a highly competitive world and are taught positive thinking and well-being. The Abraham Accords are taught and anti-Israeli material has been moderated. The research did not find antisemitism or incitement to violence and UNESCO guidelines for peace and tolerance are generally met. Report Exec Sum (Report:Print Exec Sum:Print)
The Circuit (via Jewish Insider) — January 19, 2022
At the age of 28, when Loay Alshareef, then a French language student from Saudi Arabia, stumbled into his homestay in Paris to discover he was surrounded by Stars of David—his instinct was to turn on his heels and find another family to stay with. “I didn’t feel comfortable at the beginning,” he told The Circuit. Putting it mildly, Alshareef said he “didn’t have positive views about Israel or about the Jewish people,” at that time, in 2010. “I called the school and they said ‘take your time'”—and with the gentle guidance of his “wise” host mother, he did. “There are good Jews, bad Jews, good Christians, bad Christians, good Muslims, bad Muslims—but this is not what we were taught. We were told that the Jews are conspiring against Muslims and the Jews are evil, the Jews hate Muslims from the bottom of their hearts. And to me, it was very baffling.” Today, Alshareef is fully invested in building bridges between Jews and Arabs, but understands the inherent challenges in doing so. “You cannot blame” people, he said, for “being taught for 70 years hatred towards Jews and Israel.” Today, he noted, Saudi Arabia is undergoing a “great change,” leaving behind previous education curricula that he described as “disastrous.” Marcus Sheff, CEO of The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), pointed out that 15 of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks grew up in Saudi Arabia, as did Osama bin Laden. “There is a clear and direct link between school education,” Sheff told The Circuit. Changes to the education system were slow in coming but in recent years, he said, there has been an institutional effort for change and “there is a clear strategic approach to modernizing the curriculum.” IMPACT-se has been monitoring the curriculum since 2003, and on an annual basis since 2019, when they presented a report and a list of examples of necessary changes to Saudi Arabian authorities, after which significant changes were made. The organization has seen the removal of “a great deal of content” that demonized Jews, Christians and non-believers and promoted violent jihad. “Ideas which forbade friendships with Jews and Christians have been taken out, which is what we see now—the Saudi effort to do business with the outside world,” he added. “You can’t do that if you forbid relations with them.” Alshareef says that he is seeing people changing their perspectives before his very eyes, and that is what keeps him motivated. “I want to open a new page of Muslim-Jewish relations, and I will do whatever I have to do for this reason,” he said. “I believe the Abraham Accords are here to stay and will flourish—I hear people saying they will survive—I say they will flourish.”
International Policy Digest (Sheila Raviv) — January 3, 2022
School curricula present a double-edged sword in analyses of the complex relationship between education and the processes of radicalization. On the one hand, curricula can be instrumentalized to favor intolerant, hateful ideologies that endanger the prospect of regional normalization in the Middle East. On the other hand, curricula can just as powerfully be used as a means to promote a more peaceful future based on ideals of mutual respect and tolerance. Nobody grasps this truth more than the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se). The research and advocacy group’s pioneering textbook analysis exposes the problem of radicalization in education, while also supporting positive change in line with principles derived from UNESCO. These principles include the promotion of peace and gender equality and underline the importance of respecting the way of life and the culture of others. IMPACT-se is also guided by an abiding belief that curricula should be free of any content that seems to promote or is likely to promote any form of hatred or intolerance. This includes wording or imagery that uses stereotypes, promotes mistrust, or alludes to racial hatred. Such instances would clearly present a problem to prospects of regional normalization of relations in the Middle East. The important work conducted by IMPACT-se thus serves to underline the fact that education can indeed be used as a powerful tool to mitigate and challenge intolerant and extremist influences. By tackling this problem head-on and applying pressure to governments, IMPACT-SE has shown that significant progress can be achieved. Criticism of Saudi Arabia resulted in changes in 2020 that were reported in the Washington Post involving the Kingdom “scrubbing its textbooks of antisemitic and misogynistic passages.” Furthermore, the textbooks no longer endorse the death penalty for homosexuality. In fact, IMPACT-se produced a review of Saudi Arabian textbooks in December 2020 and concluded that there had been notable progress. That said, changing curricula to align with UNESCO will not happen overnight, and serious concerns remain. For example, Saudi Arabian textbooks continue to reflect tensions between the Kingdom and Israel. Textbooks still contain a story about a Jewish boy being saved from hell by his conversion to Islam. Another pertinent case study is Qatari curriculum, with the most recent IMPACT-SE report finding that it is still far from meeting international standards of peace and tolerance but that it is making slow but steady progress.For example, the state of Qatar stopped formally teaching The Protocols of the Elders of Zion after the 2017-18 academic year. The fight for a more tolerant, open-minded, and peaceful world governed by mutual respect requires hard work … The battle against radicalization through education is a textbook case of perseverance.
The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer — January 2, 2022
Qatar has begun to cleanse its schoolbooks of supremacist, racist or derogatory references as well as celebrations of violent jihad and martyrdom, according to a recently released study. Recognition of Qatari efforts to clean up textbooks takes on added significance, with the World Cup shining a light on the country’s problematic human rights record and migrant labor system. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (Impact-se) concluded in an 85-page report that “substantial improvements have been registered in the new textbooks prepared for the first semester of the current academic year. Impact-se is an Israeli NGO that focuses on textbook analysis to prevent the radicalization of schoolchildren. Writing in the [foreword] David A. Weinberg, the Washington Director of the Anti-Defamation League, cautioned that Qatar still has “a long way to go when it comes to removing hateful content and consistently teaching tolerance, and yet the improvements that have occurred over the last two academic years in Qatar are still a pleasant surprise.” Mr. Weinberg, whose writings focus on state-enabled anti-Semitic incitement in the Middle East, noted that the latest Qatari textbooks, in contrast to Kuwaiti and Egyptian materials that are still in use, no longer describe Jews as ‘treacherous. … whatever pressure there is on Muslim-majority states to revise textbooks emanates from Western pressures as well as requirements related to geopolitical objectives, competition for religious soft power, and efforts to reform and diversify economies. That is what has driven changes in Qatari, Saudi, and Emirati textbooks. Textbooks are one measure of the degree of a country’s religious tolerance. Pushing for regional organizations to set standards is another. The latter is where Middle Eastern religious soft power rivals falter. Nevertheless, the Qatar report is significant for reasons beyond the rivalry for religious soft power and leadership of the Muslim world.
Other news outlets with this article:
The Times of Israel
Middle East Transparent
South Asia Journal
Global Village Space
The Print — January 4, 2021
Researching antisemitic incitement in the Middle East can get rather gloomy, given how prevalent it is in that part of the world. As such, it can be a real delight to welcome positive developments to report when they do occur, especially in places where one might not necessarily have expected them. To some degree, that appears to be what is going on with Qatar’s latest government-published textbooks for school children. Looking back, it was not too long ago when IMPACT-se’s CEO Marcus Sheff and I wrote in an op-ed for Newsweek that “Qatar’s textbooks are on par with those issued by Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority as the worst in the region, and perhaps the world, with regard to government-published anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.” But since then, Qatar’s books have somewhat improved. They still have a long way to go when it comes to removing hateful content and consistently teaching tolerance, and yet the improvements that have occurred over the last two academic years in Qatar are still a pleasant surprise. For example, while Egypt and Kuwait are still using textbooks this fall semester which explicitly claim that Jews are inherently treacherous, in the last few months Qatar and Jordan each have excised similar passages from their government-published textbooks for the fall of 2021. Geostrategically, Qatar is the Arab State that is most supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, and as such it seems a rather unlikely place for government-published textbooks to be moving in a relatively more tolerant direction. … it’s remarkable and somewhat encouraging that Qatar has started to excise some of the antisemitic passages in its textbooks. For example, it has removed a passage which taught that Zionism “strives to rule the world and control it.” And it has reduced problematic passages with regard to martyrdom and violent jihad—such as removing a passage that referred to jihad as “the peak” of Islam. … it is so important that this IMPACT-se report also includes an appendix identifying the problematic passages from Qatar’s spring 2020-21 textbooks that should ideally be eliminated from the upcoming term’s textbooks. By doing so, this report provides the most comprehensive picture so far of Qatar’s textbooks this school year, including what has changed, what has not, and what remains to be determined. As such, this report is an outstanding representation of IMPACT-se’s distinctive methodology. Despite the enormous logistical burden of doing so, they always strive to show the most comprehensive picture of peace and tolerance issues in a given country’s curriculum, even if it means studying dozens—and in some cases hundreds—of textbooks in order to do so. Journalists, scholars, and policymakers interested in understanding the incomplete positive change in Qatar’s textbooks today have no more thorough resource in English or in Arabic than this very IMPACT-se report. They would do well to read it closely—as would officials in Doha.