By David Bedein, Bureau Chief, Israel Resource News Agency, Jewish Tribune, May 11, 2000
Itamar Marcus, the New York-born research director of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, recently presented the findings of his center's study of the new Palestinian Authority's teacher's guide, which is the official guide that PA teachers are required to use in their schools.
Marcus's center, located in a three-room Jerusalem office, employs four full-time translators who work among piles of Arabic language, newspapers and textbooks.
Marcus has done more than anyone else to bring the issue of the Palestinian textbooks to the public eye. For that reason, he was appointed to the trilateral American-Israeli-Palestinian commission that monitors allegations of incitement, set up after the Wye accords. His center's reports are posted at www.edume.org.
Marcus's premise is that without peace education, you cannot have peace.
The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, has maintained a rigid curriculum that continues to call for liberation of all of Palestine, while describing Israel, Jews, and Zionism in the most demonic of terms. PA officials say in their defense that these are the books that they get from Jordan and from Egypt.
What PA officials forget to mention is that Israel had deleted the "offensive" sections of the Jordanian and Egyptian textbooks when Israel ruled the West Bank and Gaza, and that the Palestinian Authority had reinstated those deletions.
Many people held out hope that all this would change. In the words of senior Israeli cabinet minister Shimon Peres, who addressed the International Conference of the Jewish media this past February, "We look forward to seeing a new textbook for peace in the Palestinian Authority."
Not so, according to Marcus, whose center issued a clear, comprehensive and readable nineteen-page study which describes the new texts of the Palestinian Authority that have been included in the PALESTINE AUTHORITY'S TEACHER'S GUIDE, which reads more like a war manual than an educator's tool.
PA teachers are required to prepare their students for a Jihad (holy war) to liberate all of Palestine and to "cherish the Jihad fighters who quench the earth of Jerusalem with their blood."
Palestinian Authority students are asked to emulate the efforts of Saladin, who liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders' conquest.
Israel is to be defined by the PA teacher as a "Zionist occupier", and described by PA teachers in a context of "racism and Nazism."
PA teachers are to instill in their students the idea that "Jews are dangerous enemies of Allah, Islam and the Arab nation."
PA teachers are to teach Zionism as an example of European imperialism, whose aim is "the elimination of the original inhabitants of Palestine."
PA teachers are to distribute a text entitled "The Jewish danger in Palestine". Meanwhile, the new historical texts of the Palestinian Authority, define Israel as a "thieving conqueror", while the only map of Palestine in the new textbooks of the Palestinian Authority eliminates the state of Israel, while Israeli cities like Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheva, and the entire Galil and Negev are termed Palestinian cities.
When our news agency received this Palestinian Authority teacher's guide, I hopped in a cab to visit the Palestinian Ministry of Education in Al Bira, near Rammallah, where I was received in a courteous fashion, with Turkish coffee.
I asked a senior PA education official there if the PA would delete material that Israel considered to be offensive. The answer delivered in a soft, firm tone by a senior official of the PA was clear:
"We are now sovereign and we will determine what we will teach our children, without any interference."