A Palestinian Education

by | Dec 18, 2001

Last month, retired Marine General Anthony Zinni began a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the latest in a depressingly long line of US envoys sent to nudge along the Israeli-Arab “peace process.” Zinni’s mission, it is safe to say, will achieve what all the missions preceding his have achieved; namely, nothing — or […]

Last month, retired Marine General Anthony Zinni began a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the latest in a depressingly long line of US envoys sent to nudge along the Israeli-Arab “peace process.” Zinni’s mission, it is safe to say, will achieve what all the missions preceding his have achieved; namely, nothing — or at least nothing resembling progress toward real peace.

On the day Zinni arrived, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at the crowded central bus station in Afula, murdering two Israeli Jews, both in their 20s, and maiming 10 others. That evening, another terrorist threw grenades at passenger vehicles on the road near Kfar Darom, leaving a 45-year-old mother of four dead and sending three other Israelis — including a baby — to the hospital. Two days later, a Jewish motorist was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Samaria and a suicide bomber killed three Israeli civilians and wounded six when he blew up the No. 823 bus from Nazareth to Tel Aviv. The carnage continued over the weekend. Arab bombers in Jerusalem and Haifa slaughtered at least 36 Israelis, many of them teenagers, and wounded hundreds of others.

Zinni later remarked that “both sides have suffered far too much in the last months” and urged them to “get back on the track toward peace.” He may be new to the Israeli-Arab beat, but already he has mastered the State Department’s rhetoric of “evenhandedness,” in which no distinction is drawn between terrorism and self-defense — between attacks meant to murder and attacks meant to prevent murder. Yes, there have been many Arab casualties. But not one was caused by an Israeli suicide bomber, or an Israeli drive-by shooter, or an Israeli killer emptying his Kalashnikov in a bus station.

Zinni’s peace mission will fail because only one party to this conflict wants peace; the other wants what it has always wanted: victory. Over the past 8 years, Israel has made extraordinary concessions — diplomatic, military, financial, and above all territorial — in its quest for peace with the Palestinians. But the most the Israelis can offer is less than the Palestinians will accept. For what the Palestinians crave, what they and much of the Arab world have craved since 1948, is not peaceful coexistence with Israel, but peaceful existence without Israel.

Perhaps Zinni could find time to meet with Andre Marcus, the chairman of the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace. At a news conference one week before Zinni’s arrival, Marcus released the latest findings in the center’s ongoing survey of Israeli and Palestinian textbooks. In the past two years, the Palestinian Authority has introduced 58 new textbooks and two teachers’ guides for Grades 1, 2, 6, 7, and 11. The center analyzed the approach these texts took to matters of “peace, tolerance, recognition, and reconciliation according to criteria set by the international community.”

The topic is of more than abstract interest: The Oslo accords expressly obligate the Israelis and Palestinians to ensure that their educational systems promote peace between the two peoples. It is an obligation taken seriously in Israel, where an elaborate peace curriculum has been in place, both in the schools and on children’s television, since 1993. In its analysis of Israeli textbooks last year, the center found that “Islam, the Arab culture, and the Arabs’ contribution to human civilization are presented in a positive light” and that “many books express the yearning for peace between Israel and the Arab countries.”

That is not what it found in the new Palestinian texts. Instead of preparing Arab children for peace with Israel, the center reports, the new books “foster a multi-faceted rejection of its existence.” A few excerpts:

“The concept of peace with Israel is not to be found anywhere in the Palestinian schoolbooks. The peace process . .. .. is not mentioned.”

“The State of Israel, a member state of the UN since 1949, is not recognized. . . . Its name does not appear on any map, nor do any towns, villages, and projects created and developed by Israel.”

“By contrast, the ‘State of Palestine’ is often referred to and its name appears . . . on the cover and front page of many textbooks. Palestine stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and is exclusively Arab. The 5.5 million Jewish inhabitants are not counted.”

“Maps that appear in the textbooks . .. .. disregard the existence of the State of Israel. In most cases no names are given at all. In other cases, Israel’s place on the map is marked ‘Palestine.’

“Jerusalem is presented as belonging to the Palestinians alone. . The holy places in Palestine are exclusively Muslim and Christian. . .

“Israel is presented exclusively as inhumane and greedy. . . . The Palestinian textbooks use terminology that is associated with war and violence and is likely to create prejudice, misunderstanding, and conflict. . . . The implicit aspiration [is] to replace the State of Israel with the State of Palestine.”

(See the full report, with maps and illustrations, at the Center’s web site, www.edume.org ).

Eight years into the Oslo “peace process,” Palestinian children are still being taught to hate the Jewish state and work for its eradication. It is a goal constantly reinforced by the Palestinian media and in the slogans and speeches of the Palestinian leadership. In the years since Yasser Arafat solemnly vowed to “renounce the use of terrorism and other acts of violence,” more Jewish blood has been shed by Arab terrorists than ever before.

The war against Israel continues without letup. We really ought to stop calling it peace.

Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe. This is an excerpt from his weekly newsletter, Arguable, and is reprinted with permission. To subscribe to Arguable at no charge, click here.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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