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.
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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.
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Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote in a column on The Huffington Post’s website that what he found particularly problematic was the study’s “unwillingness to accept that when Palestinian texts reject or ignore Israel’s existence, that [this] is not dehumanization.”

Asked about the researchers’ finding that Israeli textbooks do the same, ADL’s deputy national director, Ken Jacobson, said that comparing the two was “an asymmetry.”

“The whole question of the Palestinian state is of much more recent vintage,” he said. “Israel does need to improve its teaching about the Palestinians. But the point is that on the Palestinian side [acceptance of Israel] is the core issue of the conflict for Israel. They are muddling two kinds of issues by bundling it all together.”

Wexler, meanwhile, rejected the notion that mutual effacement by either side of the other — as harmful as that might be — constitutes demonization. That, he said, occurs when one side uses a broad brush to negatively depict “the character of a people,” and not just “some bad action” by its government or citizens.

Dehumanization, Wexler said, “is very different from leaving [the enemy] off a map.”

Elihu Richter, executive director of the Genocide Prevention Program of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and one of the three dissenting members of the project’s advisory committee, thinks otherwise. “I warned [Wexler] all along, ‘You don’t want to become another Goldstone,’” Richter said.

Two other members of the scientific advisory panel have also come out against the report. Arnon Groiss, an independent researcher with expertise in Arabic, said that he found several passages in the Palestinian textbooks that were “explicit enough to show belligerent positions,” that should have been cited in the study. But the academics leading the report, he said, rebuffed him.


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