CFI calls for review into Palestinian curriculum to be published

LFI also express concerns after leaks prompt doubts over reliability of report's findings


Conservative Friends of Israel has called on the government to publish a joint European Union/UK review into the Palestinian Authority curriculum.

It follows doubts over the reliability of the study commissioned in April 2019 to investigate claims that Palestinian Authority textbooks were inciting hatred and violence in contravention to UNESCO standards on peace and tolerance in education.

It was claimed this week that researchers wrongly included  Israeli Arabic textbooks in the report, categorising them as Palestinian Authority textbooks. The report has still not been published.

In a letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, CFI Parliamentary Chairmen Stephen Crabb MP and  Lord Pickles and CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE expressed “serious concerns” over a leaked online presentation of the report by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research.

The letter highlighted “basic translation errors” in the methodology and the fact  “some of the most troubling examples of incitement to violence and antisemitism appear to have inexplicably been entirely overlooked.”

Meanwhile the Labour Friends of Israel group have also written Middle East minister, James Cleverly MP raising concerns about the credibility of the study into the textbooks.

John Spellar MP, LFI’s vice-chair wrote: "Specific examples which are singled out for praise by the researchers are not contained in PA textbooks, but those used by pupils in the Jerusalem Municipality’s Arabic-language schools. If this is not an error, I’d be grateful for an explanation as to what interest the British government and EU have in studying textbooks which are funded by Israeli taxpayers and which are not used in PA schools?”

Mr Spellar added “if accurate, IMPACT-se’s allegations seriously undermine the credibility of the textbook review and call into question its utility as a means to deal with the issue of incitement to violence in the PA curriculum.”

CFI said that the these issues “raise fundamental questions about the whole inquiry”, which “seems likely to fall far short of the standard the UK Government and Parliament can reasonably have expected”.

They noted that “Members in both Houses of Parliament have expressed concerns about the content of teaching material supplied by the Palestinian Authority for use in schools. A curriculum that glorifies violence and encourages discord”.

Cross-party MPs agreed in a Westminster Hall debate on the subject in March that “there was an urgent need for the findings of the joint EU/UK study into the PA’s curriculum to be published at the earliest opportunity”.

The CFI letter added: “Parliament was promised an honest assessment of the teaching material”, yet “leaked reports suggest this will fall considerably short of undertakings given, in good faith, by Ministers”.

It said: “Palestinian children returning for the new school year deserve better”  and added that “it is unacceptable that these children will continue using textbooks that promote violence and hatred of Israel and Jews, taught by teachers paid for by the UK”.

Asking the Foreign Secretary for assurances that the UK government intends to publish the overdue report, CFI said “British taxpayers have the right to know what is actually being taught”.

The commission followed a report by the Jerusalem-based NGO Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), which reviewed a selection of Palestinian materials and found that they were even more radical than previous editions.

The EU and UK agreed to jointly fund the report at a cost of nearly €225,000.  The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI), based in Germany, was selected to carry out the investigation, with results initially expected to be released in September 2019.

The UK announced an interim report would be released in June, with the full report coming later in the year, but nothing arrived.

IMPACT-se subsequently uncovered a presentation on the report by the institute on the website of an organisation called Prezi.

According to IMPACT-se, the document has revealed numerous issues with the report, including methodological irregularities, translation errors and Israeli textbooks in Arabic being investigated in place of PA textbooks.

IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said. “The European Union and the UK had the opportunity to add to our collective understanding of these extreme textbooks and to fulfill their duty of care to Palestinian students. Instead, the review has been a comedy of errors from start to finish."

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive