MPs voice concern over ‘conflicting’ findings of EU report on Palestinian school books

The long-delayed report found that elements of the PA curriculum teach Jew-hate – but also said the books reviewed adhere to Unesco standards


MPs have voiced concern over the “conflicting” findings of a European Union report into the content of Palestinian school textbooks. 

The long-delayed report, compiled by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, found that elements of the Palestinian Authority curriculum promote terrorism and martyrdom, and teach Jew-hate.

However, the review also found that the 156 textbooks and 16 teachers’ guides it examined adhere to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) standards.

Through its foreign aid programme, the UK government funds the salaries of Palestinian teachers who contribute to and teach from the textbooks in the question.

During a Westminster Hall debate today, MP Caroline Ansell described the EU report as conflicting, and said the examples of schoolbook anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric within it should not be viewed as reasonable. 

Examples of encouragement of violence and antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks include the repeated glorification of “heroine” Dalal al-Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis, including 13 children, in a terror attack. 

One exercise in a religious studies textbook even asks students to discuss the “repeated attempts by the Jews to kill the prophet” Muhammad and asks who are “other enemies of Islam".

Ms Ansell, who has previously worked as a teacher and a school inspector, said: “There are… issues with the report. A wider analysis also highlights glaring omissions – the justification of the Munich Olympics terrorist attack as ‘Zionist interests abroad’ – this is not covered.

“The report (also) suggests positive editing and improvement… but are these phantom changes… based on books that reportedly aren’t in the curriculum?” 

Responding to the debate on behalf of the government, Minister for Africa James Duddridge refused to explicitly accept that the textbooks adhere to Unesco standards. 

Mr Duddridge said: “I hesitate (to accept the full findings of the report) because I haven’t gone through, forensically, the conclusions. But the broad thrust of the report we agree with – there has been progress; there’s still areas where progress needs to be.” 

Ms Ansell concluded the debate stating: “I’m pleased that there wasn’t, as such, a formal acceptance of the conclusion of the report…

“If we are maintaining a position of zero tolerance then we cannot tolerate the very evidence brought forward by this esteemed institution, which reflects antisemitism… and does not provide that opportunity to learn… for this youngest generation in Palestine.”

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