AJC Urges EU to End Incitement in Palestinian Textbooks

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AJC Urges EU to End Incitement in Palestinian Textbooks

18 June 2021 – Brussels – The AJC Transatlantic Institute calls on the European Commission to take action to bring about an immediate end to incitement in Palestinian Authority-issued textbooks and, if necessary, withhold some funds to Ramallah to bring about the necessary changes in the school material. An EU-funded study published earlier today had confirmed previous reports of antisemitism, glorification of martyrdom and terror and the erasure of Israel on maps in Palestinian school books. 

Key findings of the study by the German Georg Eckert Institute had already been published last week in Germany’s BILD (8 Jun 2021) and in the Jerusalem Post (9 June 2021). Brussels underwrites the Palestinian education sector by paying the salaries of civil servants and teachers who drafted and teach the textbooks. 

“The deeply troubling study was long in the making and confirms what previous reports had documented over the past several years: The Palestinian Authority systematically poisons the minds of Palestinian children, teaching them hatred against Jews, the glorification of terror and the denial of Israel’s right to exist. This outrage has been allowed to continue for far too long and I urge the Commission to take immediate action,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Brussels-based EU Office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute. “Time is of the essence. Unfortunately, far too many Palestinian children have already been taught with this hateful material. The textbooks must be immediately replaced and should the Palestinian Authority refuse to do so, the Commission will have no other choice but to follow the Norwegian example and withhold some funding to bring about the necessary change,” Schwammenthal added.

“It is difficult to imagine a policy more at odds with EU values and the stated goals of working toward peace and the creation of a democratic Palestinian state than indoctrinating schoolchildren to hate. As the EU is ultimately financing this incitement, the Commission must act decisively to help preserve both the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution and its own standing as an honest broker,” Schwammenthal added. 

Oslo decided already last year to withhold half of its funding to Ramallah’s education sector until hate was removed from the textbooks. For its part, the European Parliament in its last two successive budget discharge reports – for the years 2018 and 2019 respectively – condemned  Ramallah’s failure to act against incitement in textbooks and insisted that the salaries the EU pays to Palestinian teachers and public servants in the education sectors “must be made conditional” on the promotion of peace and tolerance in schools. In December 2020, the European Union under the German EU-presidency decided to extend the fight against antisemitism across all of the EU’s policy areas and the Commission announced its intention to draw up a comprehensive EU Strategy on combating antisemitism.

“Last December we praised the EU for its commitment to “mainstream” the fight against antisemitism across all policy areas, which of course also includes foreign policy. Ensuring that foreign aid doesn’t go to funding antisemitic teaching must therefore be a top priority,” Schwammenthal said.

Since last October, Members of the European Parliament associated with the AJC-backed Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) interparliamentary group have repeatedly sounded the alarm on the Georg Eckert Institute’s error-ridden interim report and called for action. In three open letters – 7 October 2020, 5 May 2021, and 10 June 2021 – the lawmakers urged the EU executive to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority in order to help end the indoctrination of Palestinian children.

For press inquiries or interviews, please contact us at +32 (0) 2 280 06 43 or by email tai@ajc.org

Please find below selected excerpts from the Georg Eckert Institute documenting incitement in Palestinian textbooks.


Highlights from Eckert Institute

Headlines, page numbers and quotes from textbooks as found in the report are in bold


3.1 Terminological Practices and Symbolic Representations


P. 69

“Given this reading, using the term ‘Zionist occupation’ in place of the name of the state could be interpreted as questioning the legitimacy of the State of Israel, its political existence as an international legal entity thus being symbolically negated. The questioning of the legitimacy of Israel as a state is especially evident in cases when the terms ‘Zionist occupation’ and ‘occupation’ do not only refer to the regime of occupation in the Palestinian territories by Israel since 1967, but also to the territories of the State of Israel established in 1948. An exercise in Mathematics 7/II refers to the ‘occupation’ as it addresses fatal incidents in which protestors were shot during the 1976 demonstrations against land confiscations in the north of Israel.220


From 220Mathematics 7/II (2019), p. 105: ‘Six Palestinians were killed on the 30th March 1976 as they were defending the land which the occupation tried to confiscate. Since that time, this day has been known as the Eternal Land Day, and it is commemorated every year.’ عن دفاعهم خالل، 1976 عام آذار من الثالثني يف نيّ ُشهد ستة فلسطيني است [...] .عامّ كل احياؤه ويتم، الخالد األرض بيوم رف ّ ع يومها ومن، مصادرتها االحتالل حاول التي ا


From  Settlement as a practical application of Zionism, p. 2 “Zionism is linked to settlement as settlement is considered to be a part of Zionism and an important foundation of its project. Zionism has been established based on three false assumptions: Firstly, that Jews, although they belong to many countries and communities, represent one nation distinguished by Semitic characteristics; secondly, that the relationship between Jews and other nations is based on hostility and conflicts and is encapsulated in the phenomenon of anti-Semitism; thirdly: that the Jewish problem has no solution but the establishment of a Jewish state and that this state is located in the Promised Land (Palestine) and in settling there. The basis for maintaining Zionism can be solely achieved through through continuous settlement in Palestine.”


P. 70 “the textbook passage above can be understood as delegitimising Zionism as a national movement of the Jewish people and thus – as its historical result – the establishment of a Jewish state, in particular on Palestinian soil, as the only possible solution. The textbook presents Zionism as if it were a product of European colonialism in the middle of the Arab region, designating a chapter to it following chapters on France in Algeria and Italy in Libya. Resistance to this alleged colonial project is accordingly embedded within the anticolonial liberation struggle of the people and thus characterised as legitimate.”


“While use of the term ‘Jew’ (يهودي ,yahūdī) and its derivates in the textbooks may indicate religious and cultural tolerance it also occurs together with anti-Jewish prejudice”




P. 73

One in eight references to jihād in Social Studies 7/II relates to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East: ‘the Palestinian freedom struggle as jihād’. 



P. 74

“When mentioned in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the term is used for civilian victims but also for planners and military fighters who have carried out violence against the military and civilians and have become national figures.247 This is the case in textbooks for various subjects, such as Arabic language, social studies, geography and history, and occurring less frequently in textbooks for the natural sciences and mathematics. The naming of persons as shuhada follows an inconsistent pattern, this title being applied both to innocent victims of Israeli violence as well as to protagonists of Palestinian violence against civilians. For instance, a school mentioned in Life Sciences 9/1 is named after ash-Shahīda Rihām Dawabsha (دوابشة ريهام الشهيدة(248, a victim of the violent arson attack by a settler on the house of a Palestinian family in the West Bank in 2015. The settler was later convicted in an Israeli court. Mathematics 9/II  mentions a school named after ash-shahid Abu Jihad who was involved in the plannng of violent attacks on soldiers as well as civilians until he was killed in 1988.”


P. 75

“The maps specifically depicting this region are irredentist and portray – if not an untouched statehood (as a political entity) – then certainly a territorially whole Palestine, as an imagined homeland, within the borders of the British mandate. This imagined territorial entity of Palestine negates the existence of the State of Israel. None of the geographical maps of the region or symbolic or iconographic presentations of the territory identified in the corpus depicts Israel as a state. Keys and labels identify ‘Palestine’, but never ‘Israel’; Israeli cities do not appear unless they have a long-standing Arab population (and these are then shown as Palestinian cities).” 



P. 83

“The presentation in the textbooks generally follows the original holy texts in terms of the ambivalent – sometimes hostile – attitudes towards Jews and the characteristics they attribute to the Jewish people, referring to the latter both as an ethnoreligious collective and occasionally as individuals….Such reservations and, to a certain extent, prejudices lay the groundwork for a Christian or Islamic anti-Judaism.

The following review of textbooks for Islamic and Christian religious education shows whether and how they adopt such prejucides, possibly linking them to anti-Semitic narratives, and reproduce them in a pedagogical and didactic context. In doing so, it is not the portrayal of the factual reality of the rivalry between the religions in the early days of Christianity or Islam that is considered problematic, provided that the portrayal refrains from excessively negative attributions. Rather, repeated recourse to such aspects and frequent use of negative attributions in relation to the Jewish people, for example, textbook excercises, suggest a conscious perpetutation of anti-Jewish prejudice, escpecially when embedded in the current political context.”


P. 84

“Islamic Education 9/I (2019) dedicates a 5-page lesson to the military campaign of Muhammad and his followers in the year 628 against the oasis Khaybar, which was inhabited by Jewish tribes (‘The Battle of Khaybar’ [خيرب غزوة ,ghazwat Khaybar]).259 Here too, the themes of loyalty and treason play a significant part with respect to the tribes, referred to homogenously as ‘the Jews’. The text describes how the banū a-naḍīr tribe had been banished from Medina as a result of its furtive trickery against the Muslims. After that, they incited the Jews of Khaybar, who had initially lived peacefully together with the Muslims in the city and exhibited ‘no animosity towards the Muslims’,260 to violence towards the Prophet. The oasis had thus become a source of danger for Muslims. When they saw the Prophet and his army advancing, the textbook continues, the Jews fearfully retreated into the fortifications of Khaybar, accustomed to ‘sheltering in fortresses rather than confronting [the enemy] in battle’.261 The ‘Jews’ are thus not only described here as deceptive262 but also as inferior given their alleged cowardice….”


Under one of the pictures, which presumably aims to depict Mecca in Muhammad’s time with a decorated Ka’bah (كعبة) (p. 65), a text describes the ‘Attempts by the Jews to kill the Prophet’ (النبي قتل اليهود محاوالت ,muḥāwalāt al-yahūd qatil an-nabī). 



From: Islamic Education 5/II (2019), p. 65264

The attempt by Uqba ibn Abi Mu‘ayt to murder the Prophet (pbuh) while he was praying, as he put his sheet around the Prophet’s neck and squeezed it tightly. Abu Bakr came and pulled Uqba away from the Prophet and said, ‘Do you intend to kill a man just because he says: “My Lord is Allah, and he has brought forth to you the Evident Signs from your Lord?”’ (narrated by Al-Bukhari) [Image] Reflect: How can we use modern mass media to support the Prophet (pbuh) and defend Islam? Second - The Jews’ attempts to kill the Prophet (pbuh): Watch a video about the Jews’ attempt to kill the messenger of Allah (pbuh). 1) The Jews of banū a-naḍīr [the Nadir-tribe] attempted to assassinate the Messenger after the Battle of Badr. They were about to drop a rock onto him and kill him while he was sitting down against a wall. But he learnt of that through divine inspiration by Gabriel (pbuh) who told him that the Jews were planning to kill him. So he left them quickly and went back to Medina, where he prepared an army of Muslims, then besieged them, fought them, and drove them out of Medina. 2) The attempt by a Jewish woman to assassinate the Prophet (pbuh). She brought a poisoned lamb to the Prophet (pbuh), and he ate from it. He became repeatedly ill from eating this poisoned lamb until he died. (narrated by Al-Bukhari)


“The exercise following the text. (p.66) asks students to discuss the “repreated attempts by the Jews to kill the prophet” and then asks them to think of “other enemies of Islam.”


P. 86  Islamic Education 5/II (2019), p. 66265

The enemies of Islam in every time and place will not stop using all means and methods to fight Islam and Muslims, fighting those who call for Islam, and seeking to extinguish the light of Allah on earth, but Allah supports his religion and those who call to the way of Allah, despite the numerous methods of distortion and harm. Topic for discussion: The several attempts by Jews to kill the Prophet (pbuh) Activity 2: Mention other situations used by enemies to insult Islam and Muslims. Banner: (Victory is but an hour of patience


Page 67 

“includes comprehension questions (repetitions, selected exercises) on the text and refers five times to the previous statements about the actions of the Jews against the Prophet and the punishment issued to them. Students are required, for example, to summarise ‘the story about the Jews of banū a-naḍīr’s attempt to assassinate the Messenger’ and to mention ‘the opinion of the Messenger (pbuh) of the Jews of banū a-naḍīr after they tried to kill him’.266 When listing the possible punishments the students are expected to include the punishment that was actually implemented according to the Qur‘ān, the banishment of the banū a-naḍīr from Medina. Other possible answers include the killing of the enemies, their imprisonment or their ‘besiegement’ (حصارهم ,ḥiṣāruhum).267 The subsequent lesson (p. 68) on the life of the Prophet (p. 70) tells the story of ʿUbada Ibn al-Samit, one of Muhammad’s followers and leader of the battle of al-Badr (624). According to the written record his grave is located on the east wall of the Aqsa Mosque, which is explained in more detail in the text. The reference to the grave of Ubada Ibn al-Samit in Jerusalem is the basis for asking students in the exercise on page 71 to discuss the desecration of Muslims’ graves (of companions and the righteous) in Jerusalem and Palestine by Jews.”


P. 88

“The next page (p. 75) presents the story of Sumayyah bint Khayyāṭ who, according to the written records and this textbook, was one of the first seven people to convert to Islam and was said to have been murdered by a member of the Quraysh tribe. The text on page 76 then presents the biography of Safiyya bint Abd al-Muttalib. It repeats the story recorded in the Aḥādīth, which tells how Safiyya came across a Jew after the battle of Khandaq and killed him (p. 76–77): The excercise that follows the story of Muhammad’s companionm(on. Page 77) requires the student to discuss the role of Palestinian women in the confrontation with the “Jewish Zionist occupation”. The text juxtaposes the terms “Jewish” from Quranic script and “Zionist,” a political term with contemproary relevance, thus suggesting they are interchangeable (the 2019 edition also asks about the role of women in Jihad).”

From: Islamic Education 5/II (2019), p. 77: Topic for discussion: Talk about the role of Palestinian women in their jihād, their sacrifice and steadfastness in facing the Jewish Zionist occupation


“The texts discussed here belong to one learning context that is taught over three lessons. Supported primarily by the aḥādīth, they narrate events from the dawn of Islam related to the life of the Prophet Muhammad. At the centre of the narrative are the trials to which the written records state Muhammed was subjected, as well as his female relatives and companions. One topic runs like a central theme through the teaching material: the followers of the Jewish tribes of Medina, always collectively referred to as ‘Jews’, who according to the Qur‘ān turned against the Prophet.269 Merely basing the depiction of the Jews on the traditional literature, the text portrays the ‘Jews’ as deceptive, cowardly and aggressive protagonists: they attempt to kill Muhammad with a boulder from behind, or by using poisoned food. Through the recurrent use of the phrase ‘The P. 89 attempts by Jews to kill the Prophet [the Messenger]’ (محاوالت النبي قتل اليهود ,muḥāwalāt al-yahūd qatil an-nabī [ar-rasūl]) the responsibility for these actions is not placed on individuals but on the ‘Jews’ collectively. The Jew in the story of Safiyya is described as ‘circling around’ the camp with the intention of killing Muslims. A didactic escalation can be identified in the exercise in the twelfth lesson, which alludes five times to the attempts by Jews to kill Muhammad or requires students to repeat elements of the story. The students are further required to watch a video portraying these acts of the ‘Jews’.270 The creation of a connection between the stated deception of the ‘Jews’ in the early days of Islam and the insinuated behaviour of Jews today, who supposedly desecrate Muslim graves, is extremely escalatory. This connection is not explicitly stated but the defiling of graves, which is associated with the obliteration of memories and commemoration, is placed in the same context as the earlier reports of the attempts to murder Muhammad. Both descriptions have sacrilegious tones. Equally escalatory is the exercise asking about the role of Palestinian women in the face of the ‘Jewish Zionistic occupation’. A correlation is created between the previously narrated actions of Sumayyah bint Khayyāṭ and Safiyya bint Abd al-Muttalib. One died as an innocent victim in a battle against pre-Islamic heathen tribes and the other is held in high regard as a result of her actions being described as heroic in the ḥadīth: she killed a Jew who was endangering the camp. Even if no explicit call to violence is present, it is clear that telling this story immediately before setting the exercise will influence the students’ answers so that a violent solution to the conflict with the ‘Jewish Zionist occupation’ might be suggested. The significance of this may be increased by the addition to the 2019 edition of the question on the role of Palestinian women in jihād.

The whole learning context is lent a certain charge by the following fact: it is not so much the sufferings of the Prophet or the actions of the companions that appear to be the focus of this teaching unit but rather the alleged perniciousness of the Jews. Even in the present day it is not the ‘Zionists’ who are charged with evil deeds, such as desecrating graves, but Jews. The term ‘Zionist occupation’ (الصهيوين االحتالل ,al-iḥtilāl aṣ-ṣuhyūnī) that recurs in the textbooks in the context of the conflict is replaced here by the term ‘Jewish Zionist occupation’ (الصهيوين اليهودي االحتالل , al-iḥtilāl al-yahūdī aṣ-ṣuhyūnī). The chapter therefore sends the message that the Jews as a collective are dangerous and deceptive, and demonises them. It generates feelings of hatred towards Jews and – given the criteria listed in Chapter 1.3.1 – must be characterised as anti-Semitic. In the 2020 edition of the textbook Islamic Education 5/II this teaching unit has been altered in several passages, thereby reducing the negative focus on Jews (see chapter 5).”



P. 98

Quote from textbook: The dangers faced by the Islamic monuments in Jerusalem: Activity (4): Read the following text, draw conclusions and answer the questions: The Zionist gangs were able to take over the largest part of Palestine in 1948 until they fully took over in 1967 when the Zionist forces entered Jerusalem. Since that time, they have been pursuing a policy based on defacing the principal Arab and Islamic monuments in Palestine, especially in Jerusalem.


Give examples of the Zionist occupation’s attempts to deface the Arabic and Islamic monuments in Jerusalem. 2. List the holy religious Christian sites in Jerusalem. I have learnt: The Zionist occupation has been following a policy to deface Arab and Islamic sites in Palestine and especially in Jerusalem. The Zionists started to change the Islamic and Arabic identity of the city by giving it a Zionist style.


They have also inaugurated Zionist synagogues in Jerusalem’s Old City, and are currently trying hard to control the haram al-quds [Temple Mount with Aqsa Mosque] by allowing Zionist settlers to enter it daily in preparation for full control over it and forbidding any Islamic connection to this holy site for Muslims.


“The authors come close to propagating a conspiracy theory in their claim that the ‘Zionists’ ‘changed’ the Buraq Wall – also sacred to Muslims because of the ascension of Muhammad – into the Wailing Wall. Furthermore, the text states, Zionists removed some of the stones from the ‘Jerusalem Wall’ (القدس سور ,sūr al-quds), apparently the city wall, and replaced them with stones bearing ‘Zionist drawings and shapes’. That the Jews in the Jewish sector of the Old City had had synagogues for centuries, some of which had been destroyed in the Jordanian occupation and rebuilt after 1967, is presented here as though the ‘Zionists’ had built those synagogues with the effect of altering the Arab-Islamic character of the Old City. This text therefore contains several elements of ‘deception’ and ‘aggression’.” 



P. 99

“In the Arabic language textbooks each chapter or lesson generally addresses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in one way or another.  As well as illustrations depicting the conflict and its violent consequences, the textbooks also contain portrayals that not only condemn the Israeli use of violence but at the same time dehumanise and to a certain extent demonise these Israeli actors.”


P. 101

“The montage suggests that the Israeli sniper was purposely aiming at the little boy, and thus produces a demonising and dehumanising portrayal of the ‘other’; in this case the Israeli soldier. The text also implies a fundamental malice and inherent barbarity of soldiers who aim their weapons, as it comes across in the text, at children crossing the street. The story and its visualisation portray the Israeli soldiers as aggressive and insidious, hiding behind concrete barriers while shooting at the children.”


P. 102


“Israeli violence is portrayed in real-life connections in textbooks for mathematics and the natural sciences. Most of the 43 real-life connections in which Israelis appear portray them as perpetrators, homogeneously referring to them as the ‘(Zionist) occupation’, the ‘occupation forces’, or the ‘occupation soldiers’, i.e. as collective entities in an exclusively military context and as oppressive occupiers. Two of the 43 real-life-connections show individual actors as perpetrators: a soldier and a settler, who remain unnamed. One exercise following a lesson on the human lymphatic system inquires as to the dangers facing a boy named Rami who has been beaten on his left side by an Israeli soldier.317” 


“An escalatory portrayal depicts Jewish protagonists in reallife connections in the process of what the textbook calls the ‘Judaisation of Jerusalem’ (القدس تهويد ,tahwīd al-quds), in an exercise about solubility in water. The introductory text describes a Jewish organisation of settlers who ‘work [...] silently’ (بصمت و ]...[ تعمل (in Jerusalem as a part of a ‘policy of Judaisation of the districts of Jerusalem, changing the population and the identity of places’.319 The text thus attributes deceptive strategies to the protagonists, who, here by way of rare exception, are called Jewish settlers rather than Israeli or Zionist settler organisations (اليهودية االستيطانية الجمعيات.(32”


‘The role of the Murābiṭūn is to defend oneself against the Zionist gangs that are continuously storming the Aqsa Mosque and its compound and to maintain it as an absolute Islamic monument […]’.321


P. 103


“The grand narrative of Palestinian nation-building is closely interlaced with the concepts of struggle and resistance. It draws connections with other, more universal narratives such as that of the anti-colonial struggle for independence, drawing on the latter to arrive at the concept of revolution. History textbooks portray the current conflict with Israel as ongoing and as unaccomplished decolonisation with its roots in the British mandate and its apex in the ‘Zionist occupation’.” 


Palestine’s path to liberation from the yoke of colonialism – i.e. from Zionism according to the textbook for year 12 – has to be achieved via a ‘people’s revolution’.


P. 106

“The image with the caption ‘Palestinian revolutionaries’ shows five masked fighters armed with machine guns. Here the textbook has left the context of comparatively civilian resistance in the form of stone-throwing and is now addressing military, potentially lethal violence which – such is the message in the juxtaposition of text and image – has also been a part of the ‘Palestinian Revolution’”



P. 107

“The considerably more bloody Second Intifada (2000–2005) is addressed by the textbooks in less detail; Geography of Palestine and its Modern and Contemporary History 10/II


With regard to the portrayal of violence, a significant point of criticism is that the textbooks make no mention of the numerous suicide attacks on Israeli territory that resulted in much bloodshed and became characteristic of the Second Intifada, as well as the violent use of arms and the Israeli besiegement of the occupied territories. 


The textbook Social Studies 9/I also takes up the theme of resistance in the sense of the grand narrative of Palestinian nation-building. In unit 2, chapters 1 and 2, the textbook discusses the emergence of liberation movements and violent vs. non-violent as the different forms of resistance. Resistance is defined as ‘confronting the coloniser by peaceful or military means, or both, to respond to injury, maintain existence and identity, and gain freedom. It is a legitimate right confirmed by monotheistic canons and international conventions’.329 The textbook provides examples of both kinds of resistance (violent and non-violent), drawing on different cases from history, such as Algeria. When relating these reflections to Palestine, the text demonstrates that Palestinians have engaged in violent resistance over the course of the Palestinian struggle”


P. 109, from  Social Studies 9/I (2019), p. 50–51

Armed resistance: The armed Palestinian resistance started with the beginning of Zionist immigration to Palestine around the end of 19th century and increased with this immigration. Then it became political and military operations and revolutions by the beginning of the British Mandate. The most important Palestinian revolutions are: the Buraq Revolution of 1929, the revolution of 1936, and the declaration of the biggest and longest strike in history. The resistance operations continued after the issuance of the partition resolution and after the Zionist occupation in 1948. The PLO has engaged in armed resistance since it was founded in 1965.


Arab women have played a prominent role in resisting colonialism. They did not hesitate to join the rebel bases and training centres, they led commando operations against the occupation and were added to the lists of shuhadā’, wounded and prisoners. Such women include Algerian Djamila Bouhired, who resisted French colonialism in Algeria, and Dalal Al-Mughrabi who led the Deir-Yassin commando operation on the Palestinian coast in 1978, which resulted in the deaths of more than thirty Zionist soldiers and many others


“The description of the various phases and forms of resistance here mentions Dalal Al-Mughrabi and thus implicitly the acts of terror committed by the PLO in the 1970s and early 1980s. In a brief paragraph on female participants in resistance she is placed next to Djamila Bouhired of the Algerian resistance against the French colonial powers. This representation appears to frame violence against Israeli civilians both in the anticolonial narrative and a context of women’s empowerment. As no further portraits of significant female figures in Palestianian history are presented, the path of violence implicitly appears to be the only option for women to demonstrate an outstanding commitment to their people and country.33”


[NOTE The terror attack committed with the participation of  Dalal Al-Mughrabi killed 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children.]


P. 110


“Unlike the textbooks for history and geography as well as social studies, the textbooks for Arabic language and literature do not attempt to conceptually embed violent forms of resistance into an overarching narrative and then proceed to analyse them; rather, they describe them and subject them to poetic elevation. This glorification of resistance does not shrink from affirming that opponents may be killed during an armed confrontation.”


P. 111

“Unlike the heroising of the Palestinian fighters, the Israeli soldiers are depicted in the text as cowardly and thus inferior, such as the ‘burnt Zionist soldier held by thick chains inside his tank by his commander who feared that the soldier would otherwise flee’.333 The text is accompanied by a drawing of a Palestinian fighter shooting at an Israeli tank with a Kalashnikov gun and hitting two Israeli soldiers. One of the soldiers has already been hit and is hanging lifelessly over the machine gun of the tank turret; the other throws his arms up in the moment he is hit and loses his steel helmet. Similarly to the text, the illustration not only glorifies as heroic the use of arms in resistance by the Palestinian fidāʼīyīn (Kalashnikov vs. tank; keffiyeh vs. steel helmet, etc.); the violent use of firearms is glorified if it – as is the case here – serves to defend against an attack. More problematically still, in this textbook for year 8 the wounding or even killing of the opponent is presented in a positive light”


P. 112


“Dalal Al-Mughrabi (1959–1978) occupies a prominent position in Palestinan national memory. For example, she is featured prominently in the mural displaying the most important figures of Palestinian history in the Arafat Museum at Ramallah. Al-Mughrabi became known as a result of the role she played in 1978 in one of the most deadly terror attacks in the history of Israel, widely referred to as the Coastal Road Massacre. Al-Mughrabi herself was killed in this attack. This, together with highly symbolic elements added to embellish the story at a later stage have imbued Al-Mughrabi with a solid position as resistance fighter and shahīda in the Palestinian collective memory. As one of few women in the Palestinian national movement she is presented as a role model to girls and young women in particular. She is given a prominent depiction in the textbooks, symbolising the armed violence of ‘resistance’ in the form of terror attacks on Israeli citizens and institutions, not only in Israel, especially in the 1970s. As she occupies a distinctive place among the identification figures that Palestinian students encounter in their textbooks of various subjects, the following section will focus on her portrayal in the textbooks analysed for this Report. In Palestinian history and social studies textbooks, Al-Mughrabi is presented in the historical narrative of the events of the 1970s, while in Arabic language textbooks she is depicted more poetically as a woman who sacrificed herself for the land and thus often titled shahīda. 34”


P. 113 

From Palestine’s Geography and its Modern and Contemporary History 10/II (2019), p. 68

Zionist Aggression towards Lebanon in 1978: Activity (1): Read and draw conclusions: The Liberation Organisation continued the resistance operations, starting from their military bases on Lebanese territories, where a group led by Dalal Al-Mughrabi carried out the coastal operation. The Zionist aggression used this as a pretext to invade southern Lebanon in 1978. - The purpose of the Zionist invasion of Southern Lebanon in 1978.


“The text provides an account of the situation prior to the advance of the Israeli army into southern Lebanon in 1978. The acts of violence launched by the PLO from Lebanon against Israeli national territory are declared to be ‘resistance operations’ (املقاومة عمليات ,ʿamaliyāt al-muqāwama) and include the ‘coastal operation’ (الساحل عملية ,ʿamaliyat a-sāḥel) about which no further detail is given – led by Dalal AlMughrabi. The textbook does not criticise the PLO terrorist attacks which are described here as acts of ‘resistance’, but rather – through the choice of words – the ‘Zionist aggression’ (الصهيوين العدوان ,al-ʿuduān aṣ-ṣuhyūnī) in response to these attacks. By characterising the PLO commandos as ‘resistance’ the acts of the group – which remain undescribed – are presented as justified. The fact that the text in its historical explanation refers to Al-Mughrabi, presenting her iconic photograph in illustration, is indicative of a certain level of familiarity with Al-Mughrabi and her action.”


P. 114

“This presentation features two striking elements that presumably aim to present violence on the part of Al-Mughrabi and her commandos as fair and therefore justified. First, the account is embedded within the narrative of the anti-colonial struggle against an occupying power, which can be explained in the light of the history textbooks’ habitual equation of Zionism with colonialism. ‘Resistance’ and ‘liberation’ are catchwords presenting ideals that supposedly justify the use of violence against the actual (France) or alleged (Israel) colonial power. It is women who are given prominent portrayals as symbols of anti-colonial resistance, leading the ‘ranks of shuhadā’, wounded and prisoners’ – Djamila Bouhired in Algeria and Dalal Al-Mughrabi for the PLO. The second justification for the violence committed by the commando operatives in Israel (camouflaged here as ‘on the Palestinian coast’) occurs in the characterisation of the Israeli fatalities as ‘more than thirty Zionist soldiers’. The misidentification of the civilian casualties as Israeli (‘Zionist’) soldiers has a twofold function: (i) It portrays Al-Mughrabi’s operation, which was ultimately a failure (it was intended to facilitate an exchange of hostages for Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons), as an heroic military achievement in which a courageous woman sacrifices herself for greater ideals (liberation from colonial oppression). (ii) It also seeks to justify the use of lethal violence since – in this reading – the opponents would appear to be armed forces, equally trained and prepared to employ violence. Another factor that may have influenced this ‘re-declaration’ of victims as combatants may be an awareness of the shamefulness of presenting the violence committed by one’s own side against unarmed civilians.”


P. 115

“An Arabic language textbook takes the portrayal of Al-Mughrabi and her operation further. In the following accounts and the illustrations that accompany them, the authors’ will to commemorate Dalal Al-Mughrabi and underline her role in the narrative of resistance and its violent phases is particularly notable: This brief introduction, illustrated by a portrait of Al-Mughrabi and already adopting a heavily emotional tone (‘made her memory immortal in our hearts and minds’), is followed by an embellished account written in a lyrical style, glorifying and giving a detailed description of the commando operation:”


P. 116

“In this text, Dalal Al-Mughrabi is introduced as a leader and fighter who grows up under the difficult conditions of a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. The Nakba is named as the cause of this suffering, and the name of the commando operative cell, Deir Yassin, evokes the events of the year 1948 once again. It is not the State of Israel whose territory is to be infiltrated for the purposes of this attack; rather, the group in its rubber dinghy is heading for ‘Palestine’; Al-Mughrabi then sees, while in severe distress at sea, the lights of the ‘Palestinian coast’. The text is resplendent with primarily national symbolism, often coming across as clichéd kitsch: the rural coastal landscape that ‘welcomes’ the ‘heroes’ with a ‘smile’, the ‘bleeding homeland soil’, the bus headed for Haifa that was forced by the fidāʼīyīn to change its destination to Jaffa. Particularly significant is the unrolling of the Palestinian flag in the hijacked bus on territory which – in this reading – is occupied by the enemy. Another interesting aspect of this section is that the use of deadly violence against civilians appears to be disapproved of, since there is no mention of the part played in killing the hostages by the fidāʼīyīn accompanying Al-Mughrabi. Rather, the textbook states that Al-Mughrabi announced to the (civilian) passengers her intention not to kill them but to instrumentalise them as hostages for the purpose of freeing Palestinian detainees from Israeli prisons. This depiction lends her and her operatives a noble objective for their actions. Their taking of the hostages is, further, presented as justified by the motive of liberating the homeland from the grip of Israeli occupation. The blame for the hostages’ deaths is assigned exclusively to the ‘occupation forces’, who are depicted here as attacking the bus with a special military unit, indifferent to civilian losses. The textbook describes this as an overkill operation (machine guns, bombs, aeroplanes and tanks) and part of Israeli ‘scorched earth’ tactics, aiming here ‘to kill everyone inside the bus’, including the Israeli civilians present.”


P. 117

“Repeating the text’s content causes the students to internalise its ultimate message – that Dalal Al-Mughrabi sacrificed her young life for noble goals: the liberation of Palestinian detainees from Israeli prisons and fulfilment of the justified claim to the stolen homeland. She fought and died as a shahīda on Palestinian soil, the message continues, and the result of the confrontation with the ‘occupation forces’ was that – due to the Israeli overkill tactics that elude all morality and sense of humanity – many of the passengers on board the bus lost their lives. Dalal Al-Mughrabi and her group are thus – so the textbook implies – not to blame for the death of the hostages; the true culprits were, it suggests, Ehud Barak and his ‘Zionists’”



P. 120

“the two letters show the students that there was willingness on both sides to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. It is the only testimony to these efforts based on a comprehensive source in the entire body of textbooks studied. It is, however, important to note that several passages in the main body of the letter have been omitted,”




“The omission of the passage that speaks of beginning a new era of peaceful coexistence free of violence reflects the current situation between the two parties, which does not provide a roadmap to non-violence and peace acceptable to all sides involved. The second significant omission refers to the undertaking by the PLO to require all its elements, armed groups and their respective members to renounce violence. Three key points stand out from the reproduction of the letter from Arafat to Rabin: Firstly the letter refers explicitly to the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. This is a de facto recognition of the State of Israel by the PLO, reproduced in a textbook which generally otherwise – similarly to all other textbooks studied here – uses the term ‘Zionist occupation’ when referring to Israel. Naming Rabin and addressing him as prime minister is also significant as all other protagonists on the other side only generally appear as anonymous representatives of a collective of ‘occupiers’. Secondly the text states that the PLO renounces the use of terror and all violent acts. It is significant that this passage includes the word ‘terror’ in black and white; a linguistic usage that is otherwise avoided in the textbooks when describing acts of violence by Palestinians. This renunciation of terror is not necessarily contradictory to the otherwise downplayed or even glorified depictions of terrorist violence; rather, it supports the classification of terror as a historical phase of the Palestinian ‘resistance’ up until 1993, at least in the official view of the Palestinian Authority. The third significant point is that the textbook reproduces (parts of) the passage that declares invalid the controversial article in the Palestinian National Charter questioning Israel’s right to exist. When viewed together these points are not inconsequential. The inclusion of the unabridged letter from Rabin is also important. Even if this letter only essentially acknowledges the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, it appears here as a document from the opposing side that records willingness to engage in peaceful negotiation with their former enemy. This contrasts with the otherwise dominant approach of the textbooks to refer only to the opposition’s use of violence. The exercise instructing students to ‘Compare the aforementioned commitments in the two letters of recognition’ does contextualise this aspect but without diluting the message of the two letters. On the whole, the fact that this textbook prints the letters of mutual recognition should be highlighted as significant, even if it fails to seize the opportunity to provide an exercise fostering a stronger commitment to peacebuilding here.” 


P.122 Conclusion

“Concerning the use of terms designating the adversary, as stated earlier in this Report, the term ‘Israel’ is used comparatively seldom while the term ‘(Zionist) occupation’ is prevalent. This is almost consistent throughout the textbooks. Firstly, the term ‘Zionist occupation’ can be interpreted as referring to the effects of Israel’s occupation policy in the occupied territories when emphasis is placed on occupation practices. Secondly, it can be understood as a device through which to avoid naming the adversary or ‘other’ by name and to even question the legitimacy of the State of Israel and its political existence as an international legal entity. A history textbook for year 10, however, provides a source documenting the recognition of Israel by the PLO. While the term ‘Jews’, which occurs far more seldom and primarily in religious education books, is connotated positively in passages pointing to the common roots of the three monotheistic religions, examples of a pejorative use of the term reminiscent of antiSemitic prejudice were also identified in the analysis.

The religiously informed terms ‘jihād’ and ‘shahīd’ are politically charged, and their use in textbooks reflects the diversity of meanings that these terms embody in Islamic and – to a certain extent, oriental Christian theology. Rarely is the term connected to the current conflict; when it is, however, it carries escalatory potential. The term ‘shahīd’, however, is nearly exclusively connected to the conflict context and applied to two different groups: to individuals killed while committing violent attacks against Israel and also to victims of Israeli violence who were themselves not actively involved. Maps presented in Palestinian textbooks express the conflict in a highly symbolic way. The cartographic representations of an imagined All-Palestine, either as a political entity or an imagined homeland do not provide a spatial representation of the presence of the State of Israel or cities founded by Jewish immigrants. The State of Israel and cities like Tel-Aviv are not mentioned in the maps. Sites or cities located in Israel with large Arab populations, such as Akko or Haifa, are incorporated into the imagined All-Palestine, as are landscape formations that lie within Israeli state territory.

An Islamic education textbook expresses appreciation for the loyalty of the Jewish tribes of Medina at the time of Muhammad, while then focusing on the one tribe who ultimately betrayed the Prophet. When Jews appear as individuals in a section on early Islam in Islamic Education 5/II, published in 2017 and 2019, they are featured negatively with didactic reinforcement. This section displays anti-Semitic motives and links characteristics and actions attributed to Jews at the dawn of Islam to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 


History and (some) social studies textbooks present violence perpetrated by Palestinians as a legitimate means of resistance in certain periods of Palestinian history: violent methods have occupied a prominent place on the long path to national sovereignty and liberation from the yoke of occupation. The textbooks primarily refer to the First Intifada when presenting acts of violence committed by Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, justifying these acts as means of ‘resistance’. Violence against civilians is presented as a historical phase in the Palestinian struggle; its depiction avoids going into detail and does not explicitly denounce it, with the exception of History 10, which quotes from the letters exchanged by Arafat and Rabin. As a type of ‘military operation’, violence against civilians is also presented as part of the narrative of resistance.


The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is discussed in a history textbook for year 10 and quotes the letters of mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO from September 1993. This textbook section confirms the recognition of Israel and the renunciation of violence and terrorism by the PLO. The recognition of Israel’s right to exist documented in the letters by Yasser Arafat and Ytzhak Rabin stands in opposition to the questioning of the legitimacy of the State of Israel in other textbooks and passages. While earlier textbook editions did mention initiatives of the peace process subsequent to the Oslo Accords, these are no longer present in the textbooks analysed for this Report.”