AJC is Dismayed that the EU Failed to Act against Antisemitic Incitement in Palestinian Textbooks Supported by EU Funds
Brussels – 14 June 2022 – The AJC Transatlantic Institute is dismayed that the EU failed to condition at least some of its €214 million annual funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) on ending incitement in its textbooks. A Commission proposal to withhold about 5% of the EU’s support unless the PA finally reformed its schoolbooks and removed antisemitic material and incitement to terror, failed to receive the necessary qualified majority among member states in the European Council. The Commission decided today to drop this proposal altogether and pay out its funds without conditions—including for the salaries of Palestinian teachers and education sector civil servants—despite the continued antisemitic incitement in Palestinian textbooks.
“The EU had the historic opportunity and obligation to take a clear stand against antisemitism and incitement and for peace between Israelis and Palestinians but unfortunately decided to waste it,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Brussels-based EU Office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute. “This decision contradicts the EU’s core values, its declared goal of advancing a two-state solution, and ignores the European Parliament’s repeated calls to end such incitement in Palestinian schoolbooks supported with EU funds. The decision is simply incomprehensible given that the Commission’s very first EU Strategy on Combatting Antisemitism, released just eight months ago, explicitly states that the EU must ensure that external funds are not misallocated to activities that incite hatred and violence towards Jews,” Schwammenthal added.
In June 2021, an EU-commissioned study by the Georg-Eckert Institute confirmed previous reports of antisemitism, glorification of terror and the erasure of Israel on maps in Palestinian textbooks. The Institute’s director, Prof. Dr. Eckhardt Fuchs, told the European Parliament in September 2021 that while some books do follow UNESCO standards, “in other subjects they do not. Here you find incitement to hatred, antisemitic parts, and this we have said very clearly and differentiated.”
In March 2022, 32 MEPs from all mainstream parliamentary groups, led by the AJC-supported Transatlantic Friends of Israel, sent a letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urging her to apply the conditionality mechanism to the Palestinian educational sector.
“Years of negotiations with the PA and repeated Commission pledges of ‘zero tolerance’ for antisemitism have unfortunately failed to bring about the desired change. Palestinian children continue to be abused as they are being taught to hate. Asking the PA to revise these books is not an imposition but a self-evident and non-negotiable duty,” the MEPs wrote in part.
Last May, the European Parliament’s budget discharge report once again condemned incitement in Palestinian textbooks and demanded that “all text books and materials supported by Union Funds which are used in schools must be in line with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, co-existence and non-violence".