Study on Israeli and Palestinian textbooks leads to some surprises

It emerges that the Israeli Ministry of Education is outraged that its textbooks were compared with Palestinian textbooks, in a US State Dept-funded study — and an Israeli Education Ministry official has said this is “libel”.

The Israeli Education Ministry said in a statement:  the “attempt to create parallel between Israeli + Palestinian education systems is without any foundation… and has no basis in reality”.  [This sounds like the high-strung effort to parallel the argument that there’s “no moral equivalence” between Israelis and Palestinians.]

The Education Ministry statement added that “this is a ”study’ the conclusions of which were known in advance … The Education Ministry chose not to cooperate with those…interested in maliciously slandering the Israeli educational system + the State of Israel”…

This study of how Israeli + Palestinian schoolbooks treat the “other” was funded by the U.S. State Department [over $500,000] , and took 3 years.  The first organizational meeting was held in August 2009 and it was basically completed in May 2012.  The time since then was spent on translating, researchers told journalists at a press conference in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim on Monday morning.  But, there was also fighting, and preparation for the fight that went public just a few days ago, in advance of the report’s launch today.

And, yes, the researchers said at the Jerusalem press conference/launch, the release of the study was delayed until after both the U.S. + the Israeli elections [the U.S. elections???  Somehow, this could hardly have been a major consideration…]

Dr. Bruce Wexler, American [+ Jewish] expert researcher on 3-year study of Israeli + Palestinian school books, revealed that he is having an outraged “Justice Goldstone” moment, as the prepared wave of criticism crested.

[South Africa’s Justice Richard Goldstone was named to head the UN Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza [27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009. But, under the organized criticism of his role in that report, he said he was not going to attend his own grandson’s bar mitzvah, to avoid bringing the controversy there… He later recanted, a bit, but that was a personal stance and did not affect the fact that the report he worked on is still on file, intact, at the UN. Goldstone was on assignment for the UN, while Wexler was working in his personal capacity on a study funded by the U.S. State Department, on who Wexler does not depend, which probably explains at least in part why Wexler has been more candidly outspoken…]

Wexler said at the press conference Monday morning in Jerusalem  [with emotion] that the statement of the Israeli Minister of Education “is false at every level..I did not come into this study to attack Israel”.  He spoke of his loyalty to Israel, and claimed that when the results were conveyed to the two sides, “The Israeli Minister of Education became very aggressive. Frankly, he is a product of these text books …That means he [the Israeli Minister of Education] cannot see beyond the blinders that have come into his mind as a result of the national narrative…and, by the way , people like that [with blinders] “are poor and dangerous national leaders”.

Wexler, a Professor Emeritus at Yale University, said it seems “the Israeli Government would rather hold on to a propaganda claim they know to be false, than to get change in Palestinian books”…

UPDATE: Haaretz reported on 5 February that “Professor Bruce Wexler, the Yale University psychiatry professor who designed the comparative study of Israeli and Palestinian school textbooks, has blasted the ‘blind spots’ of Israeli Education Minister Gideon Saar, saying: ‘National leaders who have those blind spots make for poor and dangerous national leaders’… Israel, which has made the condemnation of the anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish content of Palestinian textbooks a focal point of its hasbara efforts against the Palestinian Authority, lambasted the report as biased, unscientific and unprofessional”, This is published here.

And on Twitter, a comment from Mitchell Plitnick @MitchellPlit This textbook issue was always phony. So the hasbara crew goes ballistic as yet another of their lies is exposed

Wexler said that this study on Israeli-Palest textbooks had two recommendations: 1) both sides should provide more info about the “other’s” culture, religion, history, and 2) the two ministries should conduct a joint evaluation of study + their own textbooks.

Professor Daniel Bar-Tal [Tel Aviv University] said that while Israeli textbooks do have some stories about individual warm, friendly personal relations, they do NOT on collective level.  Prof Bar-Tal: “We must take into account what is written in textbooks is seen as complete truth”; this “imprints” children’s attitudes early.

The study’s presentation notes that “School textbooks are public statements by governments”.

Researchers told journalists in Jerusalem this morning that Oslo + Taba agreements both included signed statements to deal with text books.  Professor Sami Adwan [Bethlehem University] told one questioner at the press conference this morning to “Ask parties why, despite agreement on trilateral US-Israeli-Palestinian Committee to look at school books, this trilateral committee has never met”.

The Israeli-Palestinian book researchers flatly denied claim [raised by some attending the press conference] that Palestinian school books contain “calls to go murder Jews” or “praise of those who murder Jews”.

The study said that “Dehumanization + demonization of the ‘other’ is rare is both Israeli + Palestinian schoolbooks”.

Professor Sami Adwan [Bethlehem Univrsity] said at the press conference in Jerusalem: “we have to learn to live with 2 sets of terms for holy sites, 2 diff names”; he noted that this happens elsewhere in the world, as well.

Palestinian Authority PM Salam Fayyad said on Monday that the study “confirms “Palestinian textbooks do not contain any form of blatant incitement..based on contempt for the ‘other’… The Government of Israel should “desist from attempts to detract from the objectivity and professionalism of the study.”

The Palestinian Government appears to be very interested in meeting with the Israeli side to discuss this matter .. will it be a way to ease into the resumption of negotiations?


It would be very interesting to see what would happen if the Palestinian Government were to host a press conference on this study, with the same speakers…


What other media wrote:

Continue reading Study on Israeli and Palestinian textbooks leads to some surprises

Why is Salam Fayyad – Palestinian Authority Prime Minister – going to head the delegation that will visit Netanyahu?

The Israel Project sent out an email over the weekend saying that Salam Fayyad, who had nothing to do with negotiations, will meet Benjamin Netanyahu next week about negotiations…

The same news was published in a report by Agence France Presse (AFP) on Thursday [which cited the Israeli Prime Minister’s Arabic-language media adviser Ofir Gendelman as its source]. The AFP story, which was posted here, said:

    ” ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with Palestinian prime minister Fayyad’, Israeli premier’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman said in a statement posted on his official Twitter feed. He initially said the meeting would take place next week, but later clarified that it would occur after the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins at sundown on Friday and ends on April 13. Palestinian officials confirmed the meeting and said Fayyad would hand Netanyahu a letter from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas about the stalled peace process. ‘A Palestinian delegation will take a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’, Nimr Hammad, an advisor to Abbas told AFP on Wednesday. He said Fayyad would be joined by senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo and negotiator Saeb Erakat. Visiting US envoy David Hale was meeting Fayyad early on Wednesday evening and was scheduled to see Abbas later, Palestinian officials said”.

The same AFP story noted that:

    “Abbas has reportedly prepared a letter restating Palestinian terms for returning to negotiations and warning that the status quo risks rendering the Palestinian Authority useless. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Tuesday that the letter would not include any threats by Abbas to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, as had previously been reported. But on Monday, the Palestinian leader said his message would contain a warning for the Israeli leader. ‘You have made the Palestinian Authority a non-Authority. You have taken from it all its specialisations and commitments’, he said in Cairo, quoting from the letter”.

The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported today, here, that:

    “A PA official in Ramallah said over the weekend that dissolving the PA was not not an option. The official denied that Abbas had any plans to dismantle the PA because of the stalemate in the peace process. Abbas is planning to send a letter to Netanyahu in the coming days that does not include such a threat, the official told The Jerusalem Post. The letter, he added, would hold Israel fully responsible for the current stalemate because of its refusal to stop construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods and accept the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state. Abbas’s letter, which will be delivered to Netanyahu by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, will also demand the release of Palestinians who were imprisoned before the signing of the Oslo Accords nearly two decades ago, the official noted”.

But, I’m still puzzled about this report that PA PM Salam Fayyad [a resident of East Jerusalem, so easier for him to move around inside the city] will present letter to Israeli PM Netanyahu in just over a week’s time … It can’t be just that the Israeli PM likes him better than he might like Sa’eb Erekat.
Why wouldn’t it be Palestinian leader Abbas himself — would that look too much like negotiations? So then, why wouldn’t it be someone from the PLO Executive Committee [Fayyad is not a member, but Sa’eb Erekat is, for example]. Why is this delegation being led by someone whose only function is as a member of the Palestinian Authority?

Since it’ll be PA PM Fayyad who’ll be delivering letter to Netanyahu, will he be empowered to present PA Cabinet resignation if no progress?

What is the Palestinian leadership / Palestinian Authority going to tell Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Barak Ravid, who reports for Haaretz, Tweeted late on 4 April: “I obtained a draft of the letter that Palestinian President Abbas is planning to give PM Netanyahu next week … In the letter Abbas will accuse the Netanyahu government of undermining Palestinian Authority” – article posted here“…

Then, Ravid sent out Tweets with scans of the entire draft letter, in the original Arabic:
Here is page number 1 of the draft letter Abbas will send Netanyahu here
Here is page number 2 of the draft letter Abbas will send Netanyahu here
Here is page number 3 of the draft letter Abbas will send Netanyahu here
Here is page number 4 of the draft letter Abbas will send Netanyahu here.

There has been a lot of speculation about this letter — Abbas would announce his resignation, Abbas would disband the entire Palestinian Authority…

The same day, Israeli former Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin, formerly of Meretz and previously the Labour Party, wrote a piece, entitled “Dear Abu Mazen, End This Farce”, which was published on the Foreign Policy website, here, urging Abbas to disband the PA, saying:

    “I admit that I never believed the moment would come when I would have to write these words. I am doing so because U.S. President Barack Obama has convinced you not to announce, at this point in time, the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority’s institutions and the ‘return of the keys’ of authority for the Palestinian territories to Israel. Because there have never been serious negotiations with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the last three years, and because you did not want to perpetuate the myth that a meaningful dialogue existed, you have been sorely tempted to declare the death of the ‘peace process’ — but the American president urged you to maintain the status quo. It is a mistake to agree to Obama’s request, and you can rectify this.

    Continue reading What is the Palestinian leadership / Palestinian Authority going to tell Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Source: Israel relented + is releasing tax refunds to PA, at least for now…

According to a source in Ramallah on Wednesday evening, Israel has relented [under pressure, and temporarily] and is releasing tax revenues due to Palestinian Authority [PA]. This money is expected to be in bank today [Thursday], so that PA salaries can be paid this month.

This is despite the Palestinian reconciliation deal that was finalized by a public ceremony in Cairo on Wednesday.

It was the announcement of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation a week ago Wednesday [27 April] that inspired the Israeli decision, announced by Israel’s Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday 1 May and backed by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to “freeze” transfer of tax revenue collected at Israeli ports on behalf of the PA — money which Palestinian Authority Minister Salam Fayyad announced was needed for payment of May salaries to nearly 200,000 PA employees in government ministries and security services.

The Israeli decision was reportedly questioned by the American government.

The U.S. has said that its contributions to the PA will continue for the moment, but will be reviewed after formation of a new PA cabinet in which Hamas is asking for some key ministerial posts. Financial arrangements will be reviewed, U.S. officials have indicated, after examination of any new Palestinian post-unity government.

Palestinian statements — including earlier suggestions from Fayyad himself — are that a new PA government will be composed of “technocrats” selected on the sole basis of who can best do the job.

Problems would certainly arise, however, if some of these “technocrats” just happened to be affiliated with Hamas.

Continue reading Source: Israel relented + is releasing tax refunds to PA, at least for now…

PA PM Fayyad lists defects in "peace process"

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in an interview with the Saudi-owned, London-based Arabic-language daily newspaper that “While continuing Israeli settlement activity is undoubtedly bad, it is not as serious and threatening as these American guarantees and undertakings. Let us consider the issue of keeping an Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley: The Israelis want to keep their army in that area for decades. What sovereignty would a Palestinian state enjoy when it is hemmed in by Israeli troops on all sides? What is even more serious is that these U.S. guarantees are preventing us from internationalizing the problem, which is one of the few tools we have in our hands. I hope that what I am saying is not reported in a way that appears as if I am not against settlements. On the contrary. All these guarantees were given in the hope that Netanyahu would extend his moratorium by two months, which in any case does not include Jerusalem or the major settlement blocks. This is nonsense, and we reject it completely”.

Continue reading PA PM Fayyad lists defects in "peace process"