newsMiddle East

US State Department report cites antisemitism in Qatari schoolbooks

It also points to the Gulf state's media outlets, which “periodically” carry antisemitic content.

Illustrative. A used bookstore in San Salvador, April 12, 2018. Photo by Jan Sochor/Getty Images.
Illustrative. A used bookstore in San Salvador, April 12, 2018. Photo by Jan Sochor/Getty Images.

The U.S. State Department’s 2023 Report on International Religious Freedom, which was released last week, highlights a new study of Qatari textbooks showing an ongoing prevalence of antisemitic content.

The study was shared with the State Department by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), an NGO that analyzes schoolbooks and curricula for compliance with UNESCO standards.

The study, which reviewed 55 textbooks from Qatar’s national school curriculum for the 2023-24 school year, found that the Gulf state continues to teach religious extremism, intolerance and antisemitic tropes. Among these are claims that Jews manipulate global affairs, while being materialistic, arrogant and hostile to Islam.

Violence against Israel is also legitimized, sometimes even praised, in the textbooks, alongside glorification of jihad and martyrdom. Moreover, the Qatari curriculum rejects a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, a hallmark of the United States and international foreign policy on the Middle East, and opposes normalization with Israel in any form, the study shows.

“It is disappointing … that problematic material which encourages antisemitism and promotes violence continues to be taught in Qatar’s classrooms today,” said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff, in a written statement. “Unless changes are made, it seems inevitable that children in Qatar will grow up developing age-old hateful attitudes which we had hoped would become a thing of the past.”

A previous study by IMPACT-se found that Saudi Arabia has removed practically all antisemitic and anti-Israel material from its schoolbooks.

In addition to the issue of Qatari schoolbooks, the State Department report also points to the state’s media outlets, which “periodically” carry antisemitic content. This, according to the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations, increased following the Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7 and the ensuing war in Gaza.

While the U.S. government estimates that Muslims make up a little more than 60% of Qatar’s 2.5 million population, with the remainder being Buddhists, Christians and Hindus, Qatari law restricts public worship for non-Islamic faiths. It prohibits non-Muslim groups from displaying religious symbols, the report notes, and bans Christian congregations from advertising religious services or bearing crosses in public.

All of the above “is part and parcel of Qatar’s indoctrination policy, which serves as an anchor to the Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood narrative, and uses Israel as a scapegoat for their entryway to the Islamic and Arab street,” Professor Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, told JNS. “I don’t see any reason why they will change it.”

Rabi noted that the vehemently anti-Israel Al Jazeera satellite TV station, which has been banned in Israel, is based in Doha with the funding of the Qatari government.

Earlier this year, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew conceded that the United States has a “complicated” relationship with Qatar but said that the Gulf state was a key mediator in the hostage-release talks. 

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war. JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you. The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support? Every contribution, big or small, helps remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates