Do recent Palestinian schoolbooks eliminate Israel from the Middle East?
April 4, 2007

The following is a letter composed by CMIP Chairman in response to a debate held on Fox News on April 4, 2007, between Mr. Steve A. Emerson, Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, and Ms. Diana Buttu, Former Legal Advisor to the PLO, on the subject of Palestinian and Israeli school textbooks.
The question of whether “Palestinian Authority schoolbooks eliminate Israel, essentially, geographically and politically, from the map of the Middle East?” was at the center of a debate conducted by David Asman on Fox News on April 4, 2007 between Steve Emerson, the executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and Diana Buttu, former legal adviser to the PLO.

Diana Buttu, invoking their independent review by a “Jewish American professor by the name of Nathan Brown”, claimed that the Palestinian schoolbooks pass muter, did not teach hatred, did not eliminate Israel geographically and politically and were even better than the Israeli ones.

As a matter of fact, Prof. Brown sole contribution to this topic was an invited paper presented in November 2001[1] which attempting to minimize CMIP’s reports on Palestinian schoolbooks, notably the one issued in 2000 on 34 new school textbooks for Grades 1 and 6 just produced by the PA.[2]

What is crystal clear is that Nathan Brown never reviewed most of the Palestinian school textbooks, namely those for Grades, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Invoking his pseudo authoritative review is therefore tantamount to a fraud. The same can be said with regard to his “expertise” re Israeli school textbooks since he never reviewed them at all.

From CMIP’s systematic and on going review of all the Palestinian schoolbooks, since 1998 to the present, it can be stated that generally, they indeed eliminate Israel, from the map of the Middle East and that the fundamentals taught in them re the Jews and Israel are the following:

Jews are foreigners and have no rights whatsoever in Palestine. They have a dubious and even murderous character. Israel is an illegitimate occupier of all Palestine.

A violent struggle for liberation, enhanced by the traditional Islamic concept of Jihad and martyrdom, is advocated and encouraged. The exact area to be liberated is never specified, implying that it includes the whole country, i.e. pre-1967 Israel.

In 2005, probably as a response to international criticism, some commendable changes were introduced in the schoolbooks for grade 11, although at the same time maintaining the fundamentals. For the first time ever, information was given about Jewish history in Jerusalem and ancient Palestine[3], the name of “Israel” appeared on two maps[4], there was a clear reference to the Islamic need to exercise tolerance towards Jews[5] and there was a clear cut admission that it was the Arab side which started the war in 1948 in defiance of the UN Partition resolution[6].

Unfortunately, none of these interesting and promising developments were maintained in the schoolbooks for Grade 12 issued by the Palestinian Authority in 2006, now under the control of the new elected Hamas government.

[1] “Democracy, History and the Contest over the Palestinian Curriculum,” a paper presented at the conference on “Attitudes towards the past in conflict resolution” organized in November 2001 by the “Adam Institute for Democracy ad Peace in Memory of Emil Greenzweig” (Jerusalem).
[2] Click here to read CMIP’s response to Prof. Brown
[3] Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, Part I , p. 9 and p. 11. Islamic Education, Part.I, p. 15
[4] Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, Part II, p. 57 and 58
[5] Islamic Education, Part II, pp. 110-113
[6] Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, II, pp. 30, 33, 35