Two new amendments condition continued financial support for PA education on removal of the anti-Israel incitement found in dozens of Palestinian textbooks.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Two amendments to European Union (EU) legislation that were approved Wednesday may help Israeli-Palestinian relations in the long term more than any leaders’ meetings, as they demand that Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks no longer include the anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli material they have had since before the signing of the Oslo Accords.
The groundbreaking changes were hidden among dozens of other clauses inside long reports of the European Union’s Committee on Budgetary Control, and referred to the main body that has funded the PA since 2008, PEGASE.
“The European Parliament… insists that educational material financed by Union funds, including PEGASE (Mécanisme Palestino-européen de Gestion de l’Aide Socio-économique), comply with the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education adopted by education ministers of the Union in Paris on 17 March 2015,” the first piece of legislation reads.
The second one demanded that such EU-funded PA teaching and training programs “should reflect common values such as freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination within education.”
The fact is that this legislation is not a result of a sudden revelation on the part of EU parliamentarians that Palestinian textbooks are not preaching peace and co-existence. Already in 2001, German representative Armin Laschet was shown an English translation of PA schoolbooks that horrified him and led him to say that he would act to halt all EU funding of PA educational institutions and authorities “until all the Palestinian textbook passages antagonistic to Israel are removed.”
Ten years later the situation hadn’t improved, as shown in an exhaustive 2011 study by The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE). They reported then that in PA textbooks, Jews were demonized, there was a general denial of Israel’s existence in history as well as in current affairs, and if the Jewish state was mentioned at all, it was to be blamed for various problems in the region.
And in 2016, Israel Radio’s Palestinian affairs correspondent, Gal Berger, made an extensive and publicized survey of PA textbooks from grades 1-12, finding basically the same problems. This included numerous examples in various contexts that celebrated the idea of martyrdom, while on the other hand expunging Israel’s existence.
According to Marcus Sheff, head of IMPACT-SE (which assisted in the formulation of the current legislation), “The PEGASE fund has transferred around 3 billion euro to the PA, a significant amount of which goes to the Palestinian education sector,” and called it “bizarre” that “[i]n all that time, there have been no real attempts by the European Commission to ensure that Palestinian children, who the EU supports in the classroom, receive an education based on European values — the values of peace and tolerance.”
Israeli government officials from the prime minister on down have often pointed to the anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian education system as being one of the main causes of Palestinian terror and violence.