(October 8, 2020 / JNS) A cross-party group of more than 20 members of the European Parliament from 15 countries have urged the European Union to partially withhold funding to the Palestinian Authority until Ramallah ends its anti-Semitic incitement in school textbooks.
Citing research by IMPACT-se, MEPs associated with the Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) interparliamentary group also asked the E.U. executive branch in an open letter to discontinue its collaboration with the Georg Eckert Institute. The Germany-based institute was tasked in 2019 with analyzing the Palestinian textbooks, but a presentation of its interim report has revealed a series of grave professional errors.
The E.U. report, costing $258,640, erroneously praised the P.A. for supposed improvements in peace and tolerance due to the mistaken inclusion of Israeli Jerusalem Municipality textbooks in the report, wrongly understood by the researchers as being P.A. textbooks. The introductory review, also carried out by the Georg Eckert Institute, was plagued with Arabic translation errors and indicated a miscomprehension of Palestinian culture.
The IMPACT-se review on the updated 2020-21 P.A. textbooks found that there had been virtually no positive changes made to the curriculum, despite commitments made by the Palestinian prime minister and education minister that changes would be made.
The legislators said “the textbooks are replete with troubling insertions of anti-Semitic content and imagery, hate speech and incitement to violence, martyrdom and jihad across all grades and subjects. … They violate each of the UNESCO standards for peace, tolerance and co-existence in school education. In the interests of advancing peace and putting an end to harmful incitement, we suggest that the Commission put a 5 percent reserve on funding for the Palestinians until such time that it makes substantive positive changes to the textbooks.”
Earlier this year, the Norwegian government, another major donor to the P.A., announced that it would withhold half of its funding to Ramallah’s education sector until hate was removed from the textbooks.
Last May, the European Parliament condemned Ramallah’s failure to act against incitement in textbooks and insisted in the 2018 Commission discharge report that the Commission ensure that E.U. funds promote peace and tolerance in Palestinian schools.
Daniel Schwammenthal, who leads the American Jewish Committee’s Brussels-based E.U. office—the AJC Transatlantic Institute—and serves as its Secretary-General, said in a statement that “an E.U. that stands for a peaceful two-state solution must also take a clear stand against E.U. funds being misused to poison the minds of young Palestinians.”
Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se said of the letter: “This initiative brings together just some of the hundreds of European Parliament members who voted overwhelmingly to condemn the hate, anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in Palestinian textbooks in April.”
“The salaries of the teachers who write and teach these textbooks are paid for by European taxpayers,” he continued. “So no wonder these lawmakers are frustrated when researchers conducting the expensive commission report on Palestinian textbooks ignore anti-Semitism and violence, label terror as ‘resistance’ and use Israeli textbooks to praise the Palestinian curriculum.”
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