Brussels, 15 June 2022 - The Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) expresses its profound regret at the failure of the European Commission to adequately respond to ongoing antisemitic incitement in textbooks used by the Palestinian Authority.
A Commission proposal to withhold approximately 5% of the EU’s support unless the PA finally reformed its schoolbooks and removed antisemitic material and incitement to terror, was ultimately dropped yesterday. Instead, aid will be disbursed without conditions—including for the salaries of Palestinian teachers and education sector civil servants—despite the continued antisemitic incitement featured in Palestinian textbooks.
While TFI wholeheartedly supports EU funding for the PA, EU taxpayers’ money must never be misused for incitement. The EU-commissioned study by the Georg-Eckert Institute published last June confirmed previous reports of antisemitism, glorification of terror and the erasure of Israel on maps in Palestinian schoolbooks. The Institute’s director, Prof. Dr. Eckhardt Fuchs, told the European Parliament in September 2021 that while some Palestinian textbooks follow UNESCO standards, “in other subjects they do not. Here you find incitement to hatred, antisemitic parts and this we have said very clearly,” Prof. Dr. Fuchs explained.
It is with great dismay that TFI takes note that despite years of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and repeated Commission pledges of “zero tolerance” for antisemitism, EU policy has 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, in line with the common goal of working towards peace and the creation of a democratic Palestinian state.
More recently, the EU Strategy on combating antisemitism released by the European Commission last October underlines that in its foreign relations the EU will “promote full compliance of education material with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistance and non-violence” and “ensure that EU external funds, in compliance with existing measures, may not be misallocated to activities that incite hatred and violence, including against Jewish people.”
“I’m extremely disappointed by this decision,” TFI President and Greek MEP Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou said. “Zero tolerance cannot just be a slogan. It needs to be reflected in our actions. This is a missed opportunity to effect much-needed change when it comes to the content of Palestinian textbooks.”
TFI Chair and Austrian MEP Lukas Mandl added that “The European Commission has missed an opportunity to act in line with its own principles. It would be a clear moral obligation to avoid funding anything that disseminates hate in children's hearts. We will continue to push our administration into the right direction."
This decision ignores the repeated calls of the European Parliament to end such incitement. 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".