A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi
In a recent report for the Guardian (Israeli and Palestinian textbooks omit borders, Feb. 4), Harriet Sherwood exposed Israel’s education system for the world, or at least her loyal readership, to see, noting that: “In Israeli textbooks, 76% of maps show no boundaries between Palestinian territories and Israel.
Instead, Sherwood serves the cause of absurd moral equivalency by implying that while Palestinian textbooks portray a world without Israel, refer to Jews as “Zionist gangs” and rewrite the Holocaust to ignore atrocities committed against Jews, Israel’s no better since it doesn’t recognize the non-existent borders of a country which doesn’t exist.
Sherwood’s piece suggests that Israel is teaching hatred by virtue of the fact that its educational system doesn’t propagate the Palestinian national narrative, one which depicts the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as an original sin that dispossessed the land’s native people. Over the years this Nakba narrative has metastasized into an international coalition of Islamists and leftists which celebrates the Palestinians as the quintessential “Other”, the last victims of Western racism and colonialism.
Sadly for Ms Sherwood and her fellow travelers, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” So, beyond the guerrilla chic appeal of movements for social justice that are only heard if they are loudly anti-Western, and superficially pro-democratic – yet remarkably mute when it comes to the vast majority of crimes against humanity inflicted by the once colonized against their own people – here are some pesky facts to consider:
- Palestinian textbooks describe the land (from the river to the sea) as being comprised of Muslims and Christians. No mention is made of Jews or the centuries-old Jewish communities of Palestine. The city of Jerusalem is described as exclusively Arab. Israel is not recognized as a sovereign nation and all maps are labeled “Palestine.”
- Former United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, a major proponent of the two-state solution, has said that the Palestinian school books do “…not give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination.”
- Regarding the idea of a peaceful, demilitarized Palestinian state existing side-by-side next to Israel, Palestinian school books make no attempt to educate for peace or coexistence with Israel. Instead Israel’s right to exist is adamantly denied and the Palestinian war against Israel is presented as an eternal religious battle for Islam.
While Sherwood finds it noteworthy that school books of societies in conflict tend to contradict one another, she finds the following facts too inconsequential to even bear repeating:
- Israel’s Ministry of Education has implemented many programs where Israeli and Arab students work together on joint projects in an effort to learn more about each other, their heritage and culture.
- The Israeli Government actively supports the program Seeds Of Peace, bringing together Arab and Jewish teenagers before they have formed prejudices about each other.
- The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) issued a report covering the 2012 set of Israeli textbooks. The report showed that many textbooks focus on education towards reconciliation, tolerance and peace. Peace is presented not only as a Utopian aspiration, but also as a reachable political goal. The new textbooks give information about the peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries and the Palestinians, in particular on the question of the borders between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians’ struggle is presented as that of a national movement whilst not identifying with their aims. The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians continues to be presented as a clash between two national movements, thus legitimizing the existence of the Palestinian national movement. None of the new textbooks contains indoctrination against the Palestinians as a people.
At its core the Palestinian liberation movement stands neither for the Palestinians nor liberation. It is very much defined by what it’s against: the sovereignty of the Jewish State over ALL lands seized, conquered or liberated (insert your preferred verb here…) from 1948 onward. Sherwood and her political fellow travelers realizes that since Palestinian independence needs to be created Ex nihilo – out of nothing – the only surefire way to do so is by undermining Israel’s legitimacy by a thousand cuts.
Today, it’s Israel’s education system. Rest assured that once school is out for the summer, Sherwood and like-minded fighters for freedom will dig up another half-baked canard, dust it off and fashion it into the latest whip to be inflicted upon Israel and its citizens.