A sign of things to come? It turns out that the revolution being carried out by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is also reflected in the reform of the country's textbooks since he came to power.
Among other things, references to Jews as monkeys and pigs who worship the devil, and descriptions of them as traitors by nature and sworn enemies of Islam have been removed. Anti-Israeli materials also have been removed, including reports about the Zionists' use of women, drugs and the media in order to achieve their goals and conspiracies according to which Israel has plans to expand its borders from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates in Iraq.
A new study, which examined changes made this year in the Saudi curriculum, in relation to the last five years, found a continuation of the trend of positive changes in textbooks with regard to anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic content. Progress also was made on gender issues, content was added against Hezbollah and the Iranian-backed Houthis and against the Muslim Brotherhood movement, as well as more tolerant content that promotes peace.
The research carried out by the international research and policy institute IMPACT-se in London, which investigates and analyzes the contents of textbooks in the world to encourage contents of peace and tolerance according to the standards of UNESCO, included an analysis of 301 textbooks published in the last five years by the Saudi Ministry of Education.
The most significant change that has been made is in the negative attitude toward Jews, with almost all the antisemitic examples in the books completely removed this year. For example, a song about the opposition to Jewish settlement in Palestine was deleted. A task that asked the students to refute Zionist claims about their connection to Palestine was also removed. A high school history book no longer includes a lesson on the positive results of the first intifada and referring to Israel as a "fraudulent democracy." A blood libel accusing Israel of setting fire to Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969 was also removed from one of the books, as well as an example that claimed that Israel's reasons for starting the Six-Day War were its desire to take control of holy sites for Islam and Christianity in Jerusalem and oil wells in the Sinai Peninsula.
In several places in the textbooks, the terminology toward Israel was moderated and references were removed to "the Zionist enemy" and "the Israeli occupation." However, the textbooks still do not recognize Israel and do not teach about the Holocaust. The maps completely ignore the existence of Israel and do not mention mention its name, Zionism is still described as a European colonial and racist movement, and there are still places where it is described as the "Zionist entity"
"Although every textbook reform is important, the textbooks of Saudi Arabia have a special significance as the leader of the Sunni current in Islam," said Marcus Sheff, CEO of the research and policy institute IMPACT-se.
Eric Agassi, IMPACT-se vice president, added:"The changes that Bin Salman is making are extremely brave, unprecedented and are a sign of things to come. Saudi Arabia is no longer just a country. Her textbooks are distributed to Muslim communities around the world and are studied by tens of millions of students in mosques and other educational settings."