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 5 of 6)

Asked about this, Wexler said that he carefully responded to Groiss’s queries, and that even if every one of his examples were added to the study, the statistical findings would have been the same.

Bar Ilan University Talmud professor Daniel Sperber, the third dissenting advisory panel member, offered a criticism more political than substantive: The release of the study during a time when Israeli-Palestinian relations are strained and when Israel is in-between governments was counterproductive.

“These are tense times in the Middle East, and the idea [of the study] was not to increase tensions,” he said.

The harshest criticism, however, has come from the Israeli government. In a press release issued before the study went public, the Ministry of Education attacked the very concept of examining both sides’ textbooks in tandem. “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 document read.

The statement said that the study’s findings legitimated the government’s decision not to participate in the research.

According to both Wexler and a source connected to the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, it was the Israeli government’s fierce response that forced the Chief Rabbinate, a member of the council, to walk away from the study. The Council source claimed that Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, “went ballistic” when he heard the findings of the study and pressured the rabbinate to “pull back.”

The source further claimed that Kuperwasser pushed the rabbinate to “character assassinate” the authors of the study in a statement, but that the rabbinate did not agree to this.

Asked about this, Kupperwasser told the Forward that he did speak to the rabbinate about what its response would be but did not “in any way pressure them.” He called the allegation of such pressure “baseless.”

The Rev. Trond Bakkevig, convener of the council, said the council had withdrawn its support because the researchers “widened the remit [of the study] beyond our competence and what we asked for.” But Wexler contested this adamantly.

“The original assignment given to me by the council was to look at how the other is portrayed, including, but not limited to religion,” he said. “That was in the grant from the State Department from the start.”


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 initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • 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.