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.