Demonizing and de-humanizing the enemy are mostly absent from Israeli
school books, a new study released Monday shows.
While Israeli claims of Palestinian incitement are far from uncommon, the international study showed them to be largely baseless and accused both sides of a one-sided narrative.
The Council for the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land commissioned the study to examine how Israeli and Palestinian textbooks portray both sides in connection to the conflict and the peace process.
The study was led by a joint Israeli-Palestinian team comprised of Prof. Sami Adwan of the Bethlehem University, Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal of the Tel Aviv University and Prof. Bruce Wexler of Yale University.
A school in Ramallah (Photo: AP)
The Israeli books examined were taken from the state education system and from independent haredi schools.
The majority of Palestinian books were issued by the Palestinian education ministry and some were taken from independent schools.
The study suggested that the books show a one-sided national narrative, painting an imbalanced picture where one side is the aggressor and the other is a peace seeker acting in self-defense.
According to the study, the Israeli books' descriptions of the Palestinians list violent attacks against Israelis and portray the Palestinians' intentions as focused on the annihilation of Israel.
Conversely, Palestinian books describe Palestinian land and resources as either given by world powers to the Jews or taken forcefully by Israel.
Historical events are described selectively in order to bolster the national narrative of each side, and the culture, religion and general lifestyle of the other is nearly absent. The other side is often not even mentioned on maps.
Though the study determined that negative bias towards the other side and a positive one towards oneself exist in all the education systems it was more prominent in the haredi and the Palestinian school books.
It was claimed that Israeli state education included more information on the other, and showed more examples of Israeli actions against Palestinians which draw the ire of the Israeli public and leadership.
The Palestinian Authority expressed its satisfaction with the study and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the PA would use the findings to improve the Palestinian education system, urging Israel to do the same.
Fayyad stated, "This study proves what we have repeatedly affirmed in response to allegations that have now been invalidated".
He added, "From the onset, we took all measures to extend the highest degree of cooperation with the researchers, especially from the Ministry of Education. This cooperation stemmed from our firm conviction of the significance of the issue and the need to discuss it on objective and professional bases, rather than pre-conceived notions and stereotypes."
The Israeli Education Ministry
said the study was biased, unprofessional and impartial.
"The attempt to draw comparisons between the Israeli and Palestinian school systems is baseless and completely unrelated to reality," ministry officials stated.
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