Iran’s school curriculum exposes the failure of diplomacy

Downplaying its centrality in the shaping of the ayatollahs’ foreign and national security policy only adds fuel to the Middle East and global fires, and endangers U.S. national security.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends the Great Conference of Basij members at Azadi stadium in Tehran, Oct. 4, 2018. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends the Great Conference of Basij members at Azadi stadium in Tehran, Oct. 4, 2018. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

“Iran is fighting a global war and calls on oppressed Muslims and non-Muslims to unite under Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran to overthrow the evil regimes. The Islamic Revolution knows no borders; it applies to the whole world” – “Literature and Humanities,” Grade 12, 2021‒2022, page 110.

The school curriculum of Iran’s ayatollahs is consistent with their constitution, domestic repression of ethnic and religious minorities, the subjugation of women and the proliferation of anti-U.S. terrorism in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. It provides a roadmap for an apocalyptic commitment to a global, anti-U.S. Islamic revolution.

While U.S. and Western policymakers rely heavily on statements and commitments made by the ayatollahs in the negotiation rooms and in the public arena, the Iranian school curriculum reflects most authentically their fanatic anti-U.S. strategy, tactics and vision: toppling the Sunni “apostate and heretic” regimes and bringing the Western “infidel” (especially “The Great American Satan”) to submission.

The school curriculum of the ayatollahs has become an effective production line for terrorists and suicide bombers.

Since Feb. 1, 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini toppled the Shah of Iran, the United States has persisted with the diplomatic option—cushioned by a financial bonanza—to entice the ayatollahs to abandon their global export of the Islamic Revolution and accept peaceful coexistence with their Arab Sunni neighbors (e.g., Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain).

As evidenced by the ayatollahs’ 43 year track record, the diplomatic option has been shattered, providing a robust tailwind for the ayatollahs—in the Persian Gulf, the wider Middle East, Africa and increasingly in Latin America—and a self-destructive headwind to all pro-U.S. Arab regimes and U.S. homeland and national security.

Iran’s 2021-2022 anti-U.S. school curriculum

Professor Eldad Pardo, a Hebrew University expert on Iran, Islam and the Middle East and research director of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), has researched Iran’s school curriculum since 2011. The following are some of the findings of his 2021-2022 study:

• “Jihad and martyrdom have remained of central importance…. Child martyrdom is glorified [about 50,000 Iranian children were killed during the 1980-1987 Iran-Iraq war, many of them as minesweepers]…. Martyrdom is viewed as a goal to be pursued in order to achieve spiritual perfection…. Iran largely continues to educate students for the prospect of a global war, and the spreading of the Islamist-Khomeinist revolution. There is a greater focus on Iran’s desire to export its global Islamic Revolution to the Arab Middle East compared to past curricula, with students encouraged to engage in militant activity to achieve Iranian hegemony. Textbooks instill a military spirit in students by glorifying the activities of the Quds Force, one of the five branches of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), focusing on their operations abroad….”

• “Martyrdom remains a central theme across the curriculum, as does virulent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric, and hostility toward Western powers….”

• “Whereas previous reports showed a theological and mystical dimension to revolutionary war, the 2022 review found that textbooks are focused more on reality, namely on the tangible socio-economic benefits of expansionist foreign policy for Iran…. The Iranian curriculum continues to teach inflammatory content, with a degree of radicalization markedly worse than in previous reports. Unrelenting expansionism, hatred of foreigners and the ‘Other,’ Islamist and radical messaging, glorification of violence and martyrdom, imposition of central government ideology, suppression of local cultures, and opposing worldviews remain central pillars of the Iranian curriculum….”

• “[Students] are encouraged to support Arab proxy militias in the pursuit of fomenting regional instability. This message is reinforced by specific examples of martyrs—Quds Force members, Arab and other non-Iranian militia leaders—who were killed by opposition groups inspired by the U.S. and Israel to counter the regime’s expansionist aspirations….”

• “Students are encouraged to partner with radical Sunni groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood….”

• “Students are taught that Iranian hegemony in the Arab Middle East will benefit Iran through economic influence—namely, controlling much of the world’s energy supply and maritime trade….”

Excerpts from Iranian school textbooks

• Since the November 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran—which entailed the holding of over 50 U.S. hostages for 444 days—“The National Day of Fighting Arrogance [the United States]” is commemorated annually on November 13. On this day, members of the public, especially pupils and students, declare their hatred toward “the bullying and oppressive USA” and chant “Death to America.” “This disavowal and declaration of disgust yields unity and homogeneity, bolstering resistance of the enemy” (“Islamic Education,” Grade 6, 2021‒2022, page 33; “Defense Readiness,” Grade 9, 2021‒2022, page 31).

• The United States is described as a Satanic enemy of Islam and of the ayatollahs’ Islamic Revolution (“Defense Readiness,” Grade 9, 2021‒2022, page 30).

• The United States and Britain are blamed for the proliferation of drugs among Muslims and driving a wedge among Muslims (“Islamic Education and Training,” Grade 8, 2021‒2022, page 16).

• Since 1979, the United States has been devoted to a “Satanic scheme” to enslave Islam (“Defense Readiness,” Grade 10, 2021‒22, page 120).

• Enemies must be defeated and humiliated, as demonstrated by Iran’s history (“Qur’an Learning,” Grade 2, 2021‒22, page 67; “Persian Language,” Grade 5, 2021‒22, page 60).

• U.S. sailors captured by the Iranian navy on Jan. 12, 2016, are depicted in a humiliating position (“Social Studies,” Grade 8, 2021‒2022, page 130).

• Martyrdom and jihad are promoted by heralding the hundreds of thousands who sacrificed their lives during the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war (“Islamic Education and Training,” Grade 9, 2021‒2022, page 134).

• “Whoever rises to the cause of Jihad against the enemies by the command of God is always victorious” (“Islamic Education and Training,” Grade 9, 2021‒2022, page 135).

The bottom line

The Iranian school curriculum is the most accurate reflection of the ayatollahs’ fanatic and megalomaniacal vision. It has represented, since Feb. 1, 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini landed in Tehran, taking over control of Iran, the fundamentals of their rogue policy-making, domestically, regionally and globally.

Downplaying the centrality of this curriculum in the shaping of the ayatollahs’ foreign and national security policy adds fuel to the Middle East and global fire, while causing a severe setback to U.S. homeland and national security interests.

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

This article was originally published by The Ettinger Report.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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