Glimmer of Hope for Palestinian Education

Georg Eckert Institute report coverAfter months of delay, the European Union (EU) released its report on Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks on Thursday 17th June, revealing much evidence those textbooks contain anti-Semitic statements and incitement to violence.

European officials are finally taking notice of the major problems that have been ignored for years. Last week, at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Working Group Against Antisemitism, Henrike Trautmann, head of the EU group that oversees aid to the Palestinian education sector, said:

“It is very clear that the study does reveal the existence of very deeply
problematic content 
… changes to the curriculum are essential.”

The EU Parliament Vice-President, Nicola Beer, said:

It hurts us to read about the content of textbooks that only exist thanks to
an educational infrastructure that the European Union, together with other donors,
enable the Palestinian Authority to have.

She continued:

“Depicting Jews as dangerous, demonising them, perpetuating anti-Jewish prejudices is just upsetting. But reading about schoolbooks – and here I speak as a mother – glorifying terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, presenting cold-blooded violence against civilians, including a lot of children, as resistance leaves me speechless.”

At an earlier meeting, German MEP Niclas Herbst said that there should be no tolerance for antisemitism and promotion of violence; noting to colleagues that if the EU wants to keep its credibility:

“We need to talk about the funding of the educational system in general,
because we cannot accept that this is financed with EU taxpayer money.”

In addition, Honest Reporting described a meeting in which the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had faced a grilling about the textbooks by members of the European Parliament on Wednesday 1st September.

Philippe Lazzarini admitted there were a “number of issues” that need to be addressed, although he listed problems with age appropriateness and gender perception before the issues of incitement to violence and discrimination.

European Union Committee meetingA European Union Committee meeting

With the European Parliament’s Budget Committee due to meet at the end of this month to vote on 2022 allocations to the PA, several proposals have been tabled to freeze a portion of funding to the PA until the textbooks are changed.

Observers in Israel are starting to feel more optimistic that the EU may finally take action to press for these long overdue improvements to happen.

But one cannot help wondering whether change may come too late, after generations of Palestinians have been indoctrinated to hate their Jewish neighbours.