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We all wish for the day when Palestinians and Israelis will live in peace and say only nice things about each other. The International Herald Tribune apparently thinks that wishing makes it so.
In an International Herald Tribune article entitled "Palestinian Textbooks: Where is all that Incitement?" Roger Avenstrup explains that in fact, there is no incitement, just a plot by Ariel Sharon.
But... The things that you're liable to read in the International Herald Tribune, they ain't necessarily so.
As it happens only a few days before the same IPCRI published a study of Palestinian text books. Their press release and report stated:
As IPCRI is a joint Palestinian-Israeli group, the IPCRI report dealt with the problem of anti-Palestinian bias as well:
The IPCRI recommendations are based on two previous IPCRI reports ( http://www.ipcri.org/files/4&9report.pdf and http://www.ipcri.org/files/textbooks.pdf. These studies examined only the new Palestinian texts, not the older ones, some of which are apparently still in use. A few examples from these studies are illustrative. They note that Israeli cities and towns such as Acco (Acre), Jaffa, Haifa and many others are listed as Arab Palestinian towns in the new Palestinian texts, and there is almost no mention of Israel at all, except as "The Israeli Entity" and similar circumlocutions. The studies found no mention of Jews in Ancient Israel in Palestinian texts, but there were numerous references to "Arab" Canaanites and "Arab" Jebusites who supposedly founded towns such as Acre and Jerusalem. There were also frequent references to Jihad (Holy War) and martyrdom, including an apparent reference to the need to "liberate" all of Palestine. Hebrew writing on stamps of the British Mandate period was deliberately omitted.
It should be noted on the one hand, that these new Palestinian texts are far less problematic than the texts used in other Arab countries or the older texts, but on the other hand, that day to day incitement in Palestinian media may be much worse than the distortions in the texts. However, in this article, we are not trying to weigh the effects of Palestinian incitement, but only to point out that the International Herald Tribune grossly misrepresented the findings of IPCRI and probably those of several other groups. Avenstrup also ignored even less favorable reports from other groups such as the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), but at least, that was not a direct fib.
IPCRI went to great lengths to document the problems in new Palestinian texts. Nonetheless, Avenstrup and the International Herald Tribune chose to ignore them. It is hard to see how Roger Avenstrup and the IHT translated the clear indictment above into a clean bill of health, but they did. Avenstrup is touted by the IHT as "an international education consultant." Apparently, reading comprehension is not part of that job description.
It is not the first time that an article in a respected journal directly contradicts or ignores the facts. Usually, such fibs are defended on the grounds that "opinion" articles can take poetic license with facts. Caveat Lector - let the reader beware. Next time you read an article by an "expert," remember, "it ain't necessarily so."
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Replies: 13 comments
Just a note on the textbook complaints; and just how much recognition do Israeli textbooks give to Palestinian existence?
Posted by Robert Rosenberg @ 12/23/2004 03:23 PM CST
In reply to Robert Rosenberg: In my reading of the report, I recall it noted that Israel had made strides in improving the manner in which the Palestinians and Palestinian national aspirations are presented to school children. I am entirely unaware that any Israeli government or government representative has suggested or asserted that neither the Palestinians or Muslims have any association with the region. Compare that with statements made in a UK TV interview with Yassir Arafat some months ago, and documents produced by the PLO / PNA.
Posted by Rod Davies @ 12/23/2004 09:28 PM CST
You should also make clear that IPCRI, like Avenstrup, concluded that "While there are many areas for improvement in the Palestinian text books, it can be said that these new text books do not incite against Israel or against peace."
Posted by John Allan @ 12/24/2004 01:41 AM CST
The issue of the schoolbooks is an important one as they are an officially sanctioned statement of the national perspective, and act as an effective barometer of the internal and actual Palestine stance. The Palestinian Authority has been tasked over the last decade to demonstrate two things:
Posted by Rod Davies @ 12/24/2004 12:10 PM CST
For me this issue of the schoolbooks is a kind of cruel joke. Israel is dispossesing palestinians of his land and installing ilegal settlers at a fast path never known before Oslo. Israel is building the fence-wall-obstacle kilometers inside the Green Line and devastating palestinians lands. The brutality in the controls is public and notorious. IDF raids on Palestinian areas are increasingly bloody (like the one in Jabaliya were very few Israeli soldiers were hurt because snipers shoted silouettes on windows causing an appalling toll of children and inocents dead). On the other hand, it has never been documented anything wrong about the the schoolbooks, only the typichal buzz. ¿You really thing the source for hate in Palestinian children is coming from the books? ¿You seriously rule out the posibiltiy of the children hostility towards Israel coming from seeing their fathers humiliated in the controls, there schoolmates shot down while at home and their grand fathers olive trees uprooted by caterpillars? ¿Why you keep insisting on this? Is time for peace and is time for truth so stop with schoolbooks, Arafat's wife corruption and the number of police services. The problem there are the settlers and the negative to offer anything in Jerusalmen. If we mus continue seeing violence for a couple of more generations do not blame schoolbooks ignoring settlers, controls and raids you can see daily if you connect TV.
Posted by Aleph @ 12/27/2004 03:22 PM CST
In truth despite what is said in the schoolbooks doesn't control everything. Other factors such as family and friends play a role in this.
Posted by Butros Dahu @ 12/29/2004 12:19 AM CST
To Butros & Aleph:
Posted by Rod Davies @ 01/04/2005 11:18 PM CST
FORGET ANY RIGHT OF RETURN IF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE CANNOT ADMIT THEIR CULPABILITY IN BLOCKING JEWISH ESCAPE FROM NAZI EUROPE 1933-1945. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS ADMITTED CULPABILITY, ISLAM MUST DO THE SAME AND TEACH THEIR GENERATIONS THOROUGHLY THE JEWISH ATTATCHMENT AND NEED FOR ISRAEL, THEN JUST DISTRIBUTION OF THE HOLY LAND TO JEW AND ARAB CAN BEGIN.
Posted by IZAAK @ 01/06/2005 02:06 PM CST
To Rod : The legal and formal representations of the palestinians have reconized Israelsince Oslo. I understand the importance of the shoolbooks but I cannot accept that when we are discussing why Israel did not follow neither Oslo nor the renegociations of Oslo, this issue arises. Israel must keep to the given word and if it does not, it is not fair to start moronic excuses such as the "we do not like palestinian schoolboks and they reflect the true position". Can someone tell what is going to be tought in the jewish ortodox schools with the money given to them to buy the support of the religious parties to Sharon? would someone accept this as a reason for palestinians to not accept 1967 frontiers? I thing that as "public opinion" we must stop eating each stupid excuse Israel puts. Very few people in Israel accepts 1967 frontiers and this is a big obstacle to peace, much bigger than schoolbooks. Settlers are the problem and the rest is smoke and mirrors to cover up while creating an irreversible situation. We have a responsability and we must be serious. So we must critize these books in proportion with all the other problems and not use it as an excuse to allow Israel to continue with its current policy : frontier on the fence, Abu Dis capital, settlers wherever they want to establish themselves (except Gaza) and right to vetoe the return of refugees to the Palestinian state outside Israel (if this abortion planned by Sharon can be called "state").
Posted by Aleph @ 01/07/2005 07:22 PM CST
To Aleph: You are correct in asserting that every aspect needs to be afforded it's appropriate degree of relevance. However I am not convinced that the Palestinian leadership is as committed to a two state solution as you suggest. It is my recollection that the alleged ratification of the recognition of Israel to took a long time to achieve after Oslo. I am concerned that a significent proportion of the Palestinian leadership regards the Oslo etc processes as a mean to an interim solution. In essence a return to pre-June 1967. I am also not convinced that the Palestinian leadership is capable of delivering peace. The achievement of peace must be predicated by the establishment of effective government that is capable of managing it's relationship with Israel and others.
The Palestinian political agenda appears, to me at least, to be focussed upon gaining control over territory rather than establishing administrative functions to prepare for control. The 242 solution of Land for Peace which successive Israeli governments generally followed took no account whatsoever of what would occur when the exchange had been carried out. There was some assumption that from formal recognition of Israel by all the belligerent states that normalisation of relations would then occur.
For the Palestinians the situation is almost exactly opposite. The current leadership is composed largely of a civilianised revolutionary military command. As in all situations like this the progression to civil government is fraught with difficulty, and there exists a tendency to return to militarism when the civilian approach fails to deliver results according to plan. The repeated outbreaks of violence are evidence of this.
Nothing to date that I have seen of the Palestinians gives me any confidence in their ability to live in peace with Israel in a way that will encourage Israel to establish and maintain normal inter-state relations. My feeling is that Palestinian society today is much like German society after WW1. Although it is painfully aware of the consequences of the conflict, it cannot bring itself to acknowledge its own active role in the creation of the conflict nor it's systemic failures during the conflict. Thus it seeks to apportion all culpability for its failure upon others. (Look at this sites attempt about 5 years ago to get both sides to acknowledge their own wrong doings.) I am deeply worried that this failure to acknowledged history and the current state will inevitably lead to another round of conflict. However should this occur it is likely that the consequences for the Palestinians will be absolutely catastrophic.
The Palestinians need to wake up to the fact that once the withdrawl from the Territories has been achieved that the future state of Palestine will be dependent upon the goodwill of Israel. PM Blair made it clear last year that although he percieved Israel had broken Int'l Law regarding the location of the fence, it remained entirely legal for Israel to close it's int'lly recognised borders to the Palestinians and others. Blair gave the very strong hint to Israel that he at least would block any EU attempt to pressure Israel to open it's borders if it chose to close them.
In my opinion Israel's best option at the moment is to withdraw unilaterally from the territories as fast as possible, and then invite the Palestinians to initiate state to state dialogue. Ultimately if the Palestinians choose not to recognise Isreal's right to exist then they have to live with the consequences of that. If they choose to launch cross-border attacks then as a state they will have initiated war, against which Israel would have the freedom to respond within the context of int'l law.
Apologies for length of this reply
Posted by Rod Davies @ 01/07/2005 10:11 PM CST
I have just finished reading, "The Disinherited" by Fawaz Turki and , "A Tale of Love and Darkness" by Amos os. Both are articulateadvocates for their seperate views. Will we ever know how many Arabs and Jews lives in Isreal during this century. I believed that the Arabs outnumbered the Jews by 3 to 1, but mush of the Jewish land was purchaced before their state was declared. There has beeen many conflicting reports by historians and the subject, for me, has been a problem
Posted by Ron Nelson @ 01/09/2005 07:27 PM CST
To Rod : Yesterday I was reading a philosophy of science book.The particular chapter I read was about the difference between "plausability" and "factual reality". The story Barak, Sandy Berger et al have put toghether and you explained in your note is fairly plausible but it is completely false. The true story is that before Oslo, Israel tryied to negociate with the representatives of the inhabitants of the territories (e.g. Ashrawi). They told Israel that they will only negociate "final status" and only as an application of the 242. Then Israel look for PLO and made a deal. PLO would accept the Berger's idea of "peace by slices" and Israel would give him the representation of the territories' inhabitants. This was what was done and the Asharawi kind of people accepted unhapily. Then Israel completely ignored Oslo and unleashed a great programme for populating Cisjordania. PLO fought against its own people when spontaneous riots and suicidal bombing planned by Hamas started, due to Israel attitude and Hamas strategy respectively. This erodes the PLO's position already weak. When PLO understood the mistake and were trying to come back to fight, Israel physically destroyed PLO (called at the time PNA). So it was the bad faith of Netanyahu what cause the situation not the inhability of former guerrilla fighters to set up a state or its allegded "fear to peace". As you keep saying. Mapai fought Stern in 1949. Mapai won because the armistice was mainly respected by Jordania who was the only one able (Arab Legion) to create true problems. What would have happened had Arab Legion forced hundreds of thousands of refugees inside the Green Line? I think Mapai would have lost their llegitimity and most jews would have joined Stern. So, yes PLO's people are shabby but Netaniahu&Sharon housing plan made its position untenable until they were forced to join resistance and thus be destroyed. I can't go into detail but I fully desagree with the idea that PLO thinks in 1967 frontiers as a "step" towards "throwing jews to the sea". Palestinians know as first person the degree of violence that Israel can unleash and they were ripe to accept an honourable deal that was never offered nor given. They were treasoned and cheated time and again. I think they still are willing to accept 1967 frontiers but it is not relevant because Israel is drunked of power and is going to impose their "Abu Dis capital and fence-frontier" plan with fire and blood.
Posted by Aleph @ 01/12/2005 01:19 PM CST
Aleph: It appears to me that you present a particularly one sided view of events that do not entirely accord with history. In my opinion neither Netanyahu or Sharon has enjoyed a better political advocate than Arafat and various other members of the PLO. Sharon & Netanyahu could with certainty rely upon Arafat to act in a way that would shift Israeli voter opinion away from supporting Oslo and other peace accords. My recollection is that the "peace bloc" in Israel accounted for almost 3/4's of the population up to the point where the PLO reverted to terrorism. From there on it has been a downward spiral.
Posted by Rod Davies @ 01/17/2005 10:47 AM CST
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