SEPTEMBER 14, 2017 – Exactly two years ago, a senior official at the US State Department questioned my journalism. He informed me that all the work that we had done on the Palestinian Authority textbooks used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was one great fabrication, that the US government had checked out the textbooks used by UNRWA, and that they met the highest standards of peace education.
Six months later, the White House issued a statement in a similar vein to a colleague in DC: “While there is still work to be done, the Palestinian government has made significant progress in reducing inflammatory rhetoric and revising official textbooks. Over the past few years, the Palestinian Authority has helped improve the Palestinian curriculum, including textbooks that discuss human rights and the Holocaust, which has contributed to a better education for young Palestinians.”
To respond to this, I asked my staff to purchase all Palestinian Authority textbooks used by UNRWA and to translate all the books, so that we could hand the results to the US Congress and to the Israeli Knesset.
One of the ironies is that the US Agency for International Development in Ramallah wrote to us, saying that the US never examines the textbooks … despite the fact that the US donates $400 million each year to UNRWA, one third of its budget.
Here are some items taken from the new books used in UNRWA schools in the 2017 academic year:
• The Zionist occupation started in 1856 (Social Studies, Grade 9, Part 1, 2017, p. 10)
“Since the Zionist movement established in 1856 its first settlement, known as ‘Montefioriyyah’ [Mishkenot Shaananim, built by Sir Moses Montefiore before the emergence of modern Zionism], south-west of the Jerusalem city wall, the series of division [actions] in Palestine has not stopped. It [i.e., the Zionist movement] established settlements that included training centers and arms depots. After the Catastrophe [Nakbah in Arabic] of 1948 it ruled over more than 78% of Palestine’s territory. More than 850 thousand Palestinians were made to emigrate and they and their families lived in refugee camps in Palestine and in the Diaspora. Nothing of it [Palestine] was left, except the Gaza Strip and the West Bank that were occupied [later] in 1967.”
• Zionists adopted Canaanite place names (Social Studies, Grade 6, Part 1, 2017, p. 54)
“The Zionist occupation named its own settlements by these Canaanite names, [thus] having stolen and forged Palestinian national heritage and history.”
• Zionism’s changes in Jerusalem (Social Studies, Grade 7, Part 1, 2017, p. 62)
“The Zionist occupation pursued a policy of erasing Palestine’s Arab and Islamic features in general, and especially in Jerusalem. Since the first day of Jerusalem’s occupation, the Zionists started to change the identity of this Arab-Muslim city and make it [a city] of a Zionist nature. They confiscated Palestinian land and built settlements there, harassed the Palestinian inhabitants in order to force them to leave Jerusalem, so that the settlers would come in their stead, demolished houses and forced the inhabitants to emigrate, took their identity cards and separated Jerusalem from its Arab environment. They annexed the Islamic features to the Zionist heritage list, as they transformed the Al-Buraq Wall into the Wailing Wall; they destroyed the Mugrabi neighborhood and changed its Arab-Muslim nature; they removed some of the Jerusalem city wall and put instead other ones with Zionist decorations and forms; they opened Jewish synagogues in Jerusalem’s Old City, and they are striving painstakingly these days to gain control over the Noble Shrine [Al-Haram al-Sharif – the traditional Arabic name of the Temple Mount] by letting the Zionist settlers to enter it daily in preparation for its complete takeover and cut any Muslim connection to this place that is sacred to Muslims.”
• The occupation releases boars to cause damage to the Palestinians’ crops (Social Studies, Grade 9, Part 1, 2017, p. 21)
“The occupation has transformed vast areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into dumps of poisonous refuse and acted to pollute the Palestinian environment with radioactive and chemical materials, which has caused an increase of the averages of affliction with severe diseases, chiefly cancer. It [also] dumped their markets with spoiled goods beyond their expiration dates in the Zionist markets such as cars and foodstuffs, and released herds of boars that caused damage to the inhabitants and their crops …”
• The Zionist gangs (Arabic Language, Grade 9, Part 1, 2017, p. 23)
“… And the land – it changed its features out of anger, as if it could not bear the steps of those ones who broke into it without asking permission – Zionist gangs that came from a foreign world loaded with hostility and hatred to Arabs and Palestinians.”
• Map titled “the Arab Homeland –Political” (Social Studies, Grade 9, Part 1, 2017, p. 5)
The whole country appears in one color with the name “Palestine” next to it.
David Bedein is the director of Israel Resource News Agency and also administers the Center for Near East Policy Research. He is also the author of “Roadblock to Peace – How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA Policies Reconsidered” and “The Genesis of the Palestinian Authority.” His website is israelbehindthenews.com.