US State Dept. report cites antisemitism in Qatari schoolbooks

Violence against Israel is also legitimized, sometimes even praised, in the textbooks, alongside glorification of jihad and martyrdom.

By Etgar Lefkovits, JNS

The U.S. State Department’s 2023 Report on International Religious Freedom, which was released last week, highlights a new study of Qatari textbooks showing an ongoing prevalence of antisemitic content.

The study was shared with the State Department by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), an NGO that analyzes schoolbooks and curricula for compliance with UNESCO standards.

The study, which reviewed 55 textbooks from Qatar’s national school curriculum for the 2023–2024 school year, found that the Gulf state continues to teach religious extremism, intolerance, and antisemitic tropes.

Among these are claims that Jews manipulate global affairs while being materialistic, arrogant, and hostile to Islam.

Violence against Israel is also legitimized, sometimes even praised, in the textbooks, alongside glorification of jihad and martyrdom.

Moreover, the Qatari curriculum rejects a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, a hallmark of United States and international foreign policy on the Middle East, and opposes normalization with Israel in any form, the study shows.

“It is disappointing … that problematic material which encourages antisemitism and promotes violence continues to be taught in Qatar’s classrooms today,” said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff, in a written statement.

“Unless changes are made, it seems inevitable that children in Qatar will grow up developing age-old hateful attitudes which we had hoped would become a thing of the past.”

A previous study by IMPACT-se found that Saudi Arabia has removed practically all antisemitic and anti-Israel material from its schoolbooks.

In addition to the issue of Qatari schoolbooks, the State Department report also points to the state’s media outlets, which “periodically” carry antisemitic content.

This, according to the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other organizations, increased following Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre and subsequent war in Gaza.

While the U.S. government estimates that Muslims make up just over 60% of Qatar’s 2.5 million population, with the remainder being Buddhists, Christians and Hindus, Qatari law restricts public worship for non-Islamic faiths.

It prohibits non-Muslim groups from displaying religious symbols, the report notes, and bans Christian congregations from advertising religious services or bearing crosses in public.

All of the above “is part and parcel of Qatar’s indoctrination policy, which serves as an anchor to the Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood narrative, and uses Israel as a scapegoat for their entryway to the Islamic and Arab street,” Prof. Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, told JNS.

“I don’t see any reason why they will change it.”

Rabi noted that the vehemently anti-Israel Al Jazeera satellite TV station, which has been banned in Israel, is based in Doha with the funding of the Qatari government.

Earlier this year, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew conceded that the United States has a “complicated” relationship with Qatar, but said that the Gulf state was a key mediator in the hostage-release talks.