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February 12, 2013

More on the Textbook Study

Ben Dror Yemini

Ben Dror Yemini delves into the controversial study of Israeli and Palestinian textbooks, and makes some interesting points:

Let’s leave aside the professor’s political opinions for the moment and examine the research itself. I obtained memos written by two members of the study’s Scientific Advisory Panel, Professors Amnon Groiss and Elihu Richter. While the research was still ongoing, these two scholars highlighted substantial methodological flaws and the “omission of more than forty significant texts? that appear in Palestinian school books. To be clear, the omitted texts are precisely those that contain the highest degrees of incitement (“invading snakes?; “the enemies that split open women’s bellies? etc. etc.) The demand that these texts be included was turned down with the excuse that it was not clear that the words referred to Israelis or Jews. ...

And it only gets worse. When discussing negative portrayals of the “Other,? the study includes the mere mention in Israeli textbooks of the Farhud – the 1941 pogrom against Iraqi Jews – and the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics as examples of negative portrayals of the Arab side. What exactly are the study’s authors trying to say? That it is forbidden to mention these events? Or perhaps the books should be rewritten to state that “Muslim freedom fighters succeeded in striking Jewish criminals in Baghdad and Munich?? According to this logic, perhaps it should be forbidden to learn about the Nazis, since this creates a negative image of the Germans.

The Israeli textbooks, as the study notes, do mention the 1948 massacre by the Irgun militia at the Arab village of Deir Yassin (but not the majority of the pogroms that were carried out against Jews in Arab lands). In contrast, there is not a single instance of self-criticism on the Palestinian side. Not even of the Mufti Amin al-Husseini’s support for the Nazis. There is also no mention of the fact that when the Palestinian texts refer to bringing an end to the occupation, they mean, almost without exception, the occupation of ‘Greater Palestine’ from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Or to put it even more clearly: bringing an end to the State of Israel.

In the Israeli texts one finds humanizing descriptions of Islam and of Muslims, and a yearning for peace. The Palestinian texts are free of any such sentiments. Yet the report covers up and glosses over the complete contrast between the two educational systems.

Yemini also quotes the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education at Hebrew University explaining that they have "serious questions about the Council’s report methodological choices and about some of the texts and quotes omitted from its analysis. Likewise, we find it difficult to reconcile the wide gap observed between the quotes mentioned in the report and the conclusions derived from them."

Be sure to read the rest of the illuminating piece at Times of Israel here.

Posted by GI at February 12, 2013 10:58 AM


"The Israeli textbooks, as the study notes, do mention the 1948 massacre by the Irgun militia at the Arab village of Deir Yassin... "

Still beating that same old drum. There has been so much scholarship on that ALLEGED massacre, but it isn't yet displacing the myth.

To name just a few element: The villagers were warned well in advance to leave, but most were prevented from doing so by the Arab invaders; forced to remain in their homes.

Second, the Israeli jeep sent ahead to warn/clear out civilians got stuck outside the village and couldn't make it in time.

And a horde of other inconvenient facts. Pity that this is still in Israeli textbooks. Must be for the convenience of SOME elements of the dysfunctional Israeli political system -- why else?

Posted by: Hypatia at February 14, 2013 10:34 AM

It's too late. The "both sides are guilty" meme has been taken up in the mainstream media and syndicated articles along this line have been so widely published that it is essentially hopeless to fight it.

Posted by: EricS at February 18, 2013 02:03 PM

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