Palestinian Textbooks Don't Vilify Jews, New Study Reveals

U.S.-Funded Report Says Both Sides Distort History

Reading, Writing, but No Demonizing: Do Palestinians learn to dehumanize Israelis from school textbooks? A new State Department-funded study says no — but accuses both sides of distorting history.
Getty Images
Reading, Writing, but No Demonizing: Do Palestinians learn to dehumanize Israelis from school textbooks? A new State Department-funded study says no — but accuses both sides of distorting history.

By Naomi Zeveloff

Published February 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A landmark State Department-funded study has cleared the Palestinians of demonizing Jews in school textbooks but contends that both Israeli and Palestinian teachers use classroom materials that distort the history of the Middle East conflict.

The study, described by its authors as the first scientific analysis of incitement in Israeli and Palestinian textbooks, contradicts a longstanding narrative among Israelis, American Jews and others that Palestinians incite their children to violence by depicting Jews as subhuman in their textbooks.

Several years in the making, the study was carried out and overseen by a team of American, Israeli, Palestinian and international education experts. It was commissioned by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, a consortium of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders in Israel, and received $590,000 in funding from the U.S. State Department.

Its findings were released at a press conference in Jerusalem this morning.

The Israeli government said it refused to cooperate with the study and has denounced the findings as “predetermined,” without elaborating. “The attempt to create a parallel between the Israeli education system and the Palestinian education system is completely unfounded and lacks any basis in reality,” the Israeli Ministry of Education said in a press release.

The study’s lead investigators defended their report, saying in a statement that an international team of schoolbook analysts confirmed that the study is “of the highest scientific standards.”

An official at the Palestinian Ministry of Education did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The study’s first, and perhaps most surprising, finding is that, for the most part, neither Palestinian nor Israeli schoolbooks demonize the other people or refer to them as subhuman.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.