Over 20 MEPs Demand EU Funding-Cut to Palestinian Authority over Incitement in Textbooks

TFI Press Release

Over 20 MEPs Demand EU Funding-Cut to Palestinian Authority over Incitement in Textbooks

Brussels, 7 October 2020 – A cross-party group of over 20 Members of the European Parliament from 15 countries have urged the EU to partially withhold funding to the Palestinian Authority until Ramallah ends its antisemitic incitement in school textbooks. 

Citing the most recent research by IMPACT-se, MEPs associated with the Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) interparliamentary group also asked the EU executive branch in an open letter to discontinue its collaboration with the Georg Eckert Institute. The Germany-based institute was tasked in 2019 with analyzing the Palestinian textbooks but a presentation of its interim report has revealed a series of grave professional errors.

Read Letter here.

The report, costing over €220,000, erroneously praised the Palestinian Authority for supposed improvements in peace and tolerance due to the mistaken inclusion of Israeli Jerusalem Municipality textbooks in the report, wrongly understood by the researchers as being Palestinian Authority textbooks. The introductory review, also carried out by the Georg Eckert Institute, was plagued with Arabic translation errors and indicated a miscomprehension of Palestinian culture. 

The legislators referenced the IMPACT-se report in the letter stating:

“Palestinian Authority textbooks are replete with troubling insertions of antisemitic content and imagery, hate speech and incitement to violence, martyrdom, and jihad across all grades and subjects. These textbooks are drafted and taught by education sector civil servants and teachers whose salaries are financed through the EU’s PEGASE instrument. They violate each of the UNESCO standards for peace, tolerance and co-existence in school education. In the interests of advancing peace and putting an end to harmful incitement, we suggest that the Commission put a 5% reserve on funding for the Palestinians until such time that it makes substantive positive changes to the textbooks.” 

Austrian MEP Lukas Mandl, the TFI chair in the European Parliament who sent the letter this morning to the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Neighborhood Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, said: 

"It’s unacceptable that the EU is funding Palestinian textbooks which glorify terrorism and peddle antisemitism. Incitement by the Palestinian Authority continues to be a major obstacle to achieving our common goal of a negotiated two-state solution. By putting a temporary and partial hold on funding, hopefully Ramallah will understand the message that the EU is serious about fighting incitement and all forms of antisemitism.”

German MEP Niclas Herbst, TFI member and Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee, stated:

"The European Parliament has made it very clear, in 2018 and again this year, that it no longer wants European taxpayers to finance the teaching of antisemitism, hate and encouragement to violence in the Palestinian textbooks. Palestinian children deserve better. We are extremely concerned that in the new, September 2020 textbooks, changes have still not been made. We were equally concerned that the presentation of the EU interim report of the curriculum used the wrong textbooks, ignored antisemitism and justified terror. Something went very wrong in this research process and must be put right."

Earlier this year, the Norwegian government, another major donor to the Palestinian Authority, announced that it would withhold half of its funding to Ramallah’s education sector until hate was removed from the textbooks. Last May, the European Parliament condemned Ramallah’s failure to act against incitement in textbooks and insisted in the 2018 Commission discharge report that the Commission ensure EU funds promote peace and tolerance in Palestinian schools.

Daniel Schwammenthal who leads the AJC’s Brussels-based EU office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute, and also serves as TFI’s Secretary General added: “An EU that stands for a peaceful two-state solution must also take a clear stand against EU funds being misused to poison the minds of young Palestinians.”

With respect to the European Commission’s cooperation with the Georg Eckert Institute, the legislators from four major political groups, including the three largest, said: “In light of the Georg Eckert Institute’s deeply troubling and error-ridden interim review, it is inconceivable that the Institute’s final report, due to be released in December, can possibly reflect a serious and scholarly assessment of the textbooks.”

A recent IMPACT-se report on the updated 2020-21 Palestinian Authority textbooks found that there had been virtually no positive changes made to the curriculum, despite commitments made by the Palestinian Prime Minister and Education Minister that changes would be made.

Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se commented on the letter stating:

"This initiative brings together just some of the hundreds of European Parliament members who voted overwhelmingly to condemn the hate, antisemitism and incitement to violence in Palestinian textbooks in April."

"The salaries of the teachers who write and teach these textbooks are paid for by European taxpayers. So no wonder these lawmakers are frustrated when researchers conducting the expensive commission report on Palestinian textbooks ignore antisemitism and violence, label terror as “resistance” and use Israeli textbooks to praise the Palestinian curriculum."

The final straw is the Palestinian Authority completely ignoring the stream of European officials who demanded the textbooks are changed, received assurances they would, only to be told the new curriculum is as full of hate as ever.

IMPACT-se is a research and policy institute that monitors and analyzes education. It employs international standards on peace and tolerance as derived from UNESCO declarations and resolutions to determine compliance and to advocate for change when necessary.

The Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI), which initiated the letter, is a growing cross-party friendship group of currently 77 lawmakers (view membership here) from both sides of the Atlantic committed to strengthening the partnership between the United States, Israel, Canada, and Europe.