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

(page 2 of 6)

One adviser to the study warned Wexler, who is Jewish, that he was in danger of becoming “another Goldstone,” a reference to Richard Goldstone, the South African Jewish jurist who became a pariah among many fellow Jews for chairing a United Nations report that criticized Israeli military actions in Gaza.

Wexler stands by his group’s findings. “The goal was to provide the information so discussion can be informed by facts,” he said. “We have done that, and that is why I am shocked by the vehement response to discredit us.”

The study, which has been four years in the making, began in 2009, when the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land — a consortium of the senior leaders of Islam, Judaism and Christianity based in Jerusalem — commissioned Wexler, who is American, and his Israeli and Palestinian colleagues to design and conduct the research project with a $590,000 State Department grant.

Following years of regular but fragmentary attacks by Israel and its supporters — including testimony before Congress — on alleged hate passages that they claim permeate Palestinian textbooks, this study was designed to be nothing if not comprehensive. And unusually, it was designed to examine the textbooks of both sides, not just the Palestinians.

The researchers examined 94 books from Palestinian school systems in Gaza and the West Bank, and 74 books from the Israeli state secular and state religious school systems, analyzing 1,000 categories of information, such as narrative passages, poems and photos.

While the relative absence of “extreme negative characterization” of the other by both sides rose to the top of the researchers’ findings, the study found that both Israeli and Palestinian textbooks portrayed the other as the enemy, and each collection of textbooks presented their own respective group in almost exclusively positive terms.

The study also found a deep lack of information about the other in each side’s books. The negative depictions and omissions of the other are most pronounced in books used in Israel’s Orthodox religious schools and in Palestinian books. Israeli secular books were found to be the most self-critical of the three categories.


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!
  • 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?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • 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.”
  • 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.