New Palestinian Schoolbooks

The schoolbooks currently (October 2003) in use in Palestinian Arab schools are sampled below.

In the case of every one of the schoolbooks listed in this table, the following text appears (in Arabic):

The (Palestinian) Ministry of Education welcomes the support, which it has received from institutions and organizations all over the world. In particular, it would like to thank UNESCO, Arab countries, and other friends, including the governments of Belgium and Italy, for the professional and financial assistance given to further this project. [Emphasis added]
English and Arabic titlesComments
Lurratuna Aljamila (Grade 1)
Our Beautiful Language Part 2

Page 106: Shahids – a song dedicated to Shahids "Your Shahids, salt of the earth, you grew up in blood.

Page 115: A story: “One night in a refugee camp” Mother Zabar said; “If only we had stayed in Jaffa.” Her son answered: “We will return there one day”.

Altarbiya Alwataniya (Grade 1)
National Education – Part 2

Page 9: The grocery shop is called “Haifa,” which is in pre-1967 Israel.

Page 30: The grocery shop is called “Acco”, which is in pre-1967 Israel. There are no shops with names of Palestinian towns.

Pages 53-54: The map features the area of Israel, including the Palestinian territories. The areas known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are marked, but Israel is not mentioned. The map is described as “the map of Palestine”.

Altarbiya Almasihiya (Grade 2)
Christian Education

The role of Jews in the story of Jesus

Page 11: The story is told of Jesus at the temple. Jerusalem is described as a Palestinian city. It had been built by the Arab Canaanites (Jebusites), who had given it the name Jebus. This was later changed to Orsalem, the City of the Righteous, the Holy City, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif. No mention is made of the Jews in the city. The Temple is described as a place to worship Allah. There is no detail to connect it to Jews.

Page 59: "Pontius Pilate ordered the capture of Jesus. He hoped the Jews would be satisfied with this, but they cried out "Crucify him, crucify him". What is interesting is that this is the first time that the Jews are mentioned in the book. It is in a strictly negative form, which is similar to anti-semitic works circulated in Europe from previous centuries.

Altarbiya Alwataniya (Grade 2)
National Education Part 1

Front cover: Bottom right corner - a photograph of a British mandate-era postage stamp of Palestine. The name appears in English and in Arabic. In reality, on the actual stamp, the name Palestine also appears in Hebrew. But on this textbook cover, the Hebrew characters for the name Palestine have been obliterated, removing any trace of them.

Page 4: The first residents of the region were the Arab Canaanites

Page 16: A map depicts 'Palestine’ (with the Dome of the Rock at its center), as having an Arab-Islamic character only. It is a part of the Arab-Islamic world, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf. It borders Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. Israel is not mentioned. Similar maps of the Middle East and schoolbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority educational system also mention Palestine alone. All references to Israel are omitted.

Page 19: A description of the Negev refers to it in “southern Palestine”.

Page 22: Palestine has numerous cities, the most important being Jerusalem-which is the capital of (Israel does not exist). In a further list of ‘Palestinian’ cities, there is no distinction between Gaza and Nablus, or between Jaffa and Haifa. Cities founded before the establishment of Israel such as Tel-Aviv, Netanya, Hadera, Bat Yam and Holon are not mentioned.

Page 36: The refugee camp “ Meh’yim ”. A place where Palestinians live, after they were forced to flee from the towns and cities, and to where they still intend to return.

Page 70: A sign for Independence Day refers to the right of return.

Page 70: On visitors during a Muslim festival, it is customary to visit the sick and famiies of Shahids.

Altarbiya Alwataniya (Grade 3)
National Education Part 1

Page 37: "Palestine is part of this world and plays a central cultural, archeological and religious role. These elements can be traced to the distant past, such as in buildings like the Al-Aksa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre." No mention of any Jewish sites or biblical bond with the Holy Land.

Page 39: The page is devoted to holy religious sites around the country. A list is displayed of holy religious sites in Jerusalem. As above, this includes Al-Aksa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but nothing of Jewish interest.

In Hebron, the text refers to the burial place of Abraham in an Islamic context only. Mention is made of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem and also the relevance of Nazareth to the Christians. Again, no word is written of the Jews' biblical bond to the Land of Israel.

Page 49: The map of the area is described as the "map of Palestine". There is no room for Israel.

Altarbiya Alislamiya (Grade 6)
Islamic Education Part 1

Page 67: "Palestine Has become part of the Islamic world….Islam does not deny that it is a Muslim's duty to honour his country…..The defense of the homeland is an obligation upon every Muslim, however minimal his connection to his country."

Page 68: "Whoever dies in defense of his country is considered a shahid, who will attain the highest spiritual levels possible." (This means that by dying for your country, you will attain all the rewards in heaven - a very emotive statement, especially in such a religious region.)

Page 69: "Palestinians expect that every Palestinian will return to each city or village from where he was expelled." (This comment ignores the fact that many Palestinians became refugees, because they were encouraged to leave by the military leaders. Further, the hidden message implies that eventually Israel will be wiped off the map).

Page 83: "Jews never ceased to threaten them with death, even when the Prophet (Mohammed) appeared". (This refers to a particular tribe in the early days of Islam). "The students asks: Why did the Jews not believe in the High Prophet...?"

Lurratuna Aljamila (Grade 6)
Our Beautiful Language – Part 1

Page 120: A picture is shown of the city of Jaffa. "Jaffa is a port in Palestine, situated on the Mediterranean Sea. In 1948, it had 71,000 inhabitants. It was conquered first by the Maccabeans (Jews) and then by Slonikians. In 68 C.E., it was sacked by the Roman army. The Crusaders reconquered the port in the 12th Century, but the Arabs later restored it to its former self.

There is no mention of the Jewish biblical and historical connection to Jaffa. When Jews are referred to, it is in a negative context only.

Page 121: The page is entitled "Palestine - Our Country". This is followed by a discussion of mosques in Acre. Again, the Jewish history of the town is ignored, as well as the Napoleonic military struggles.

Jurrafiyat Falastin (Grade 7)
The Geography of Palestine

Page 2: A map of the area of Israel and the Palestinian territories is called "Palestine". No mention of Israel is permitted.

Page 4: A map of Palestine covers the whole of present day Israel, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea. The borders of Palestine with Lebanon and Syria are clearly examined.

Page 7: The map on this page shows that Palestine includes the Galilean Hills, Haifa, Jerusalem, Beersheba and Ashkelon, as well as well known Arab towns. Tel Aviv is omitted totally.

Pages 8-75: As the book progresses and develops its explanations, none of the towns are associated with Jews, whose constant historical presence is ignored completely. This applies to the discussion on page 62 of the rise of industry in the region. Even the international airport at Lod is denied a mention, despite being part of one of the major flight paths in the Middle East.

Altarbiya Alwataniya (Grade 7)
National Education

Page 20: The page describes how Jews arrived in the region from Eastern Europe from 1882 to 1948. "…Their aim was to conquer Palestinian land and to replace the indigenous population either by expelling or destroying them." Note only in this factually incorrect, no mention is made of: "The mass population movements of Arab tribes from areas known today as southern Syria and Jordan." The pogroms and persecution encountered by the Jews in Europe " The legal purchase of land by Jews such as the Rothschild family. "Zionism and the return home to the biblical homeland of the Jews.

Page 21: The Palestinian revolts of 1921, 1929 and 1936 are described. No room is devoted to the slaughter of the Jewish community in Hebron nor to the attempts to prohibit Jews from praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Page 22: The picture of violent resistance by the Palestinians as outlined on previous pages was interspersed by references to shahids, who fell in battle against the Jews. A notable example was Al-Khader Al-Husseini, who died in the battle of Kastel outside Jerusalem in 1948. On this page, the student is requested to write about his feelings towards shahids. The page also uses explanations from the British historian Arnold Toynbe, a person recognised for his dislike of Jews.

Pages 23ff: They describe the period between 1948 and 1967. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were under the respective rule of Jordan and Egypt. The text continue to refer to other areas, like Acre, Haifa and the Galilee. Almost without fail, Israel is painted as a destroying villages and trying to wipe out a culture. These arguments are substantially false. Moreover, at no time is criticism leveled at Egypt and Jordan for not establishing a Palestinian State in the West Bank or Gaza, when they had the opportunity. Further, the students are not asked to question why a state was not created.

Page 81: The text charges that as a result of the success of Israel in the Six Day War in 1967, economic and tourist activity in the West Bank collapsed.

The text ignores statistics from the World Bank and other international agencies, which show that for at least 2 decades, as Israel began to govern the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, economic performance improved tremendously. Further, health and social indicators also began to rise above levels found in many Arab states.

Almutala'a Walnusus (Grade 8)
Text Reading Part 1

Page 49: The City of Gaza is described as located….140 kilometers south-west of Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine."

Page 77: The text refers to a song called "Palestine". The student is asked: "The author describes Jerusalem as the sister of Arabs and Muslims, but her enemies are sharpening their knives to kill her. What does the author expect from his readers in order for them to defend Jerusalem."?

Page 79: On this page, as on many others (page 45, for instance), has repeated references to shahids or fedayeen: people who die for their country in a holy cause, usually in order for others to follow their example. Heavy use is made of the theme of endangering one's life for the cause of Islam. It must be stressed that while some people feel that the slightly increased use of the term fedayeen shows greater moderation than in the older Jordanian schoolbooks, both phrases have similar connotations. Both are related to violent acts in the name of Islam.

Pages 35 / 77 / 79: Whether discussing the conquests of Salah A-adin during the Crusades or more modern history, the student is taught that these are acts of Jihad: noble and religious causes for which it is considered worthy to die.

Al'ulum Allarawiya (Grade 8)
Linguistic Science Part 1

Many of the sections chosen for study in this book have a militaristic and patriotic flavour.

While this may not be problematic in itself, what is disturbing is that the texts for discussion ignore the roles of other peoples and of other religions in the area. This is most noticeable on pages 5, 33, 35 and 60. There is no attempt to facilitate a pluralistic approach to learning.


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