Briefing Paper September 2019 (3)
How Israel teaches its children to hate Asa Winstanley AHT 30/7/19
Dissident Israeli scholar Nurit Peled-Elhanan’s important academic study, “Palestine in Israeli School Books” [published 2012] is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand important realities about the Israeli state and Israeli society.
Peled-Elhanan’s book was a major study of 17 Israeli school textbooks on history, geography and civic studies. As you can see from what she says in the interview above, she came to some stark conclusions. When they even mention Palestinians at all, Israel’s official schoolbooks teach a “racist discourse”, which quite literally wipes Palestine off the map. Maps in the schoolbooks only ever show “the Land of Israel”, from the river to the sea. She explained that not a single one of the schoolbooks included “any positive cultural or social aspect of Palestinian life-world: neither literature nor poetry, neither history nor agriculture, neither art nor architecture, neither customs nor traditions are ever mentioned.”
Of the rare times that Palestinians are mentioned, it is in an overwhelmingly negative and stereotypical fashion: “all [the books] represent [Palestinians] in racist icons or demeaning classificatory images such as terrorists, refugees and primitive farmers — the three ‘problems’ they constitute for Israel.” She concluded that the children’s schoolbooks “present Israeli-Jewish culture as superior to the Arab-Palestinian one, Israeli-Jewish concepts of progress as superior to the Palestinian-Arab way of life and Israeli-Jewish behaviour as aligning with universal values.”.
All this is quite the opposite of the stereotypical and misleading story about children’s schoolbooks in Palestine. The books printed by the Palestinian Authority since the 1990s are frequently portrayed in anti-Palestinian demonology as putting forth the worst anti-Semitic calumnies about Jewish people. Overall, this narrative is a crude fabrication instigated by anti-Palestinian propaganda groups, such as that run by Israeli settler Itamar Marcus and his “Palestinian Media Watch.View all →