Fierce Reaction Greets Study of Alleged Hate in Palestinian Textbooks

Finding That Class Materials Don't Vilify Jews Sparks Fury

Textbook Case of Controversy: A new study was supposed to settle the question of whether Palestinian textbooks spur hatred toward Jews and Israel. Instead, the study itself has became a focus of controversy.
getty images
Textbook Case of Controversy: A new study was supposed to settle the question of whether Palestinian textbooks spur hatred toward Jews and Israel. Instead, the study itself has became a focus of controversy.

By Naomi Zeveloff and Nathan Jeffay

Published February 07, 2013, issue of February 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A controversial in-depth study that clears Palestinian Authority school textbooks of the charge that they demonize Jews and Israelis has become an orphan, virtually upon its release.

Since Yale University psychiatry professor Bruce Wexler, Bethlehem University professor Sami Adwan and Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University rolled out their study’s results February 4, the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which commissioned the project, has disavowed the study.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate — one of the council’s four constituent members — has, too. The U.S. State Department, which fully funded the study, has refused to comment on it. And the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, which sent out a press release February 5 announcing that it would host a Washington rollout for the study, has now called that release’s distribution an accident.

According to Wexler, the fury over the report is a recent development. Last May, he said, the study received unanimous support from its 17-member scientific advisory panel, an international group of education experts, who drafted and signed a document approving both the methodology and the findings. But now, three members of the panel have publicly denounced the project.

Those involved in the project attribute much of the response to it to Israeli government officials, who have led the charge against the report, denouncing it as “misleading,” “highly distorted” and ”biased, unprofessional and significantly lacking in objectivity.”

The study, which looked at textbooks used by both Israelis and Palestinians, found that, with some exceptions on both sides, neither side’s books dehumanize the other as a group. But the study also found that books used in schools on both sides distort history and use facts selectively to favor their own respective narratives, at a significant cost to building peace.

The Palestinians’ alleged demonization of Jews and Israel in school textbooks has been a long-standing grievance for pro-Israel advocates. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the Palestinians have voiced satisfaction with the study’s findings. But on the Israeli and Jewish side, protests reached a fever pitch.


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!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • 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.