LFI condemns Government review into Palestinian textbooks for also probing Israeli ones

Government is accused of 'providing the Palestinian Authority with blank cheques so it can continue... glorifying violence and inciting terror'


Labour Friends of Israel has called it "shameful" that a review into Palestinian textbooks - that teach children antisemitism and are partly funded by British aid money - will also investigate Israeli textbooks.

Middle East Minister Alistair Burt announced a “rigorous and independent review” of Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks in July, after it was revealed Britain was paying more than £20million in aid a year towards a curriculum criticised for inciting pupils to become jihadists and martyrs.

But it has now been revealed that the review will also include an assessment of Israeli textbooks, even though Britain does not fund them.

The JC understands the information emerged in a meeting between Mr Burt and a European pro-Israeli advocate.

Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan wrote a letter to Mr Burt, seen by the JC, in which she wrote of her “surprise” the scope of the planned review suggesting: “I’m not aware of evidence of any widespread incitement in Israeli textbooks.

“Am I therefore right to assume, given your statement, that it is your intention that this review will examine both Palestinian and Israeli textbooks?”

In his response, Mr Burt did not deny this was the Department for International Development's (DFID) intention.

LFI Director Jennifer Gerber said: “Last week, a four-day old child became the youngest known victim of this terrible conflict.

“Sadly, instead of helping to stop the killing and bring the two sides together, the Department for International Development is providing the Palestinian Authority with blank cheques so that it can continue its policy of glorifying violence and inciting terror.

“It is shameful that ministers have dragged their feet on these lessons in hate for well over a year and appear no nearer to cutting the cash the PA uses to poison the minds of another generation of Palestinian schoolchildren.”

Mr Burt had previously said he would establish a review which would not report until September 2019, though it has still not been commissioned.

Last month, he said the Palestinian Authority has "taken action to help address concerns raised", including "piloting new textbooks".

But, according to research by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), there have been no major changes in the school year that began in September.

PA textbooks continue to teach five-year-olds the words for "martyr" and "attack", while teenagers are told that those who sacrifice themselves will be rewarded with "72 virgin brides in paradise".

LFI is among pro-Israeli groups to accuse DfiD of dragging its heels over the PA textbooks which British aid is partly funding and of trying to imply a false equivalence between the PA’s and Israel’s curriculums.

IMPACT-se chief executive Marcus Sheff said: “After being presented with nearly one hundred examples of antisemitism, hate and glorification of terrorism in the Palestinian education system that it funds, the best idea the UK government seems to have is to examine the Israeli curriculum, which it does not fund.

"The Israel curriculum, while not being perfect, meets UNESCO-derived standards of peace and tolerance. It identifies peace as the ultimate goal, depicting it as highly desirable and achievable.”

In 2013, research into textbooks in Israel and the Palestinian Authority found they largely eliminate one another’s existence in maps, although the Israeli curriculum is more balanced and self-critical than the Palestinian.

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