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Those “Palestinian Textbooks”: A Comedy of Errors, Or Deliberate Deception? (Part 1)

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The E.U. commissioned a study of Palestinian textbooks to see if claims that they encouraged violence against Jews were true. A group of German analysts at the Georg Eckert Institiute were entrusted with the study, and they concluded that the Palestinian schoolbooks had been unfairly maligned; the Palestinian schoolbooks, they found, contained no such incitement. It turns out, however, that they were looking at the wrong books. The story of this sinister comedy of errors is here.

A post-Brexit row, described as “a comedy of errors,” has broken out between the European Union and Britain over a review of Palestinian school textbooks that was commissioned before Britain left the EU on January 31, 2020.

Israel-based education watchdog IMPACT-se states that preliminary reviews of the textbooks, carried out by the German Georg Eckert Institute, contained numerous errors. First among them: IMPACT-se claims that the institute was actually looking at the wrong textbooks.

According to IMPACT-se, the institute examined books used in Israel’s Jerusalem municipality Arab schools, and not those used in the Palestinian territories.

The Georg Eckert Institute analysts apparently had mistaken Israeli-prepared texts for use in Arab schools in Jerusalem for the Palestinian-prepared texts they were supposed to be examining. Or could it have been not a mistake, the result of negligence and ignorance but, rather, a deliberate attempt to fool the E.U.? Fortunately, the error, deliberate or otherwise, was discovered by the Israeli-based organization IMPACT-se, that among its tasks studies Mideast school textbooks for signs of prejudice. It appears that the Eckert Insitute study was also “plagued by poor comprehension of Arabic, missing terminology and factual inaccuracies.”

Asked by The Times of Israel about the alleged errors in the forthcoming report, the German Georg Eckert Institute had no comment on IMPACT-se’s claims and issued a statement that “the study of approximately 150 textbooks, published by the Ministry of Education under the Palestinian Authority since 2017, will be finished and made available in October 2020, according to the agreement between the EU and the Georg Eckert Institute.”

In other words, the Eckert Institute has refused to admit to, and offered no comment on, its colossal error, not a flicker of recognition of its extraordinary negligence. We shall see in October if the Georg Eckert Institute, having been caught out for its scandalous preliminary report on the wrong textbooks, will finally admit that its preliminary study was based on the wrong – i.e., Israeli – textbooks, or will simply pass over the mistake in silence. In any case, now it has to produce a study based on those “150 textbooks” published by the Palestinian Authority, and it will be hard to put lipstick on that particular pig. For if the Eckert Institute at long last does its job right, if only to spare itself future embarrassment and possible loss of business — the results will be deeply disturbing.

Aside from the endless demonization of Jews as “full of greedy ambitions” who have “stolen” Palestinian land, examples are used across the curriculum to encourage violence toward Jews. Think of how physics is taught: “what is the tensile strength of a slingshot that a Palestinian boy is using to attack Israeli soldiers” or “how do we calculate the trajectory of a rocket”? Or arithmetic: “if there are 13 Jews, and 9 Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?” A 2017 social studies text even reveals a shocking attitude to Israelis by describing a Molotov cocktail attack on an Israeli civilian bus as a “barbecue party,” and another such text exalts a Palestinian female terrorist responsible for the killing of more than 30 civilians in an attack on another Israeli bus. In geography, Israel is not to be found on any map, and even Tel Aviv is left out of Palestinian school maps. These textbooks also say that Jews have no holy places in ”Occupied Palestine”– the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are all presented as Muslim holy places threatened by Jews. But the Eckert Institute’s report missed all that, because they were looking at the wrong set of schoolbooks.

On May 11, 2020, UK’s Minister for the Middle East James Cleverly told Parliament that June 2020 was the final completion date for the interim report, with the full report set to be completed “later in the year.” According to a spokesperson from the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), the final report is due to be published at the end of 2020. DfID declined to divulge how much the UK contributed towards the first “inception” report. The European Union paid €217,833 for the second “interim” report….

The Eckert Institute, stung by the revelation from IMPACT-se that it had been studying the wrong textbooks – not those prepared by the Palestinians, but those prepared by Israelis for use in Israeli Arab schools – now must feel the extreme pressure to produce an unvarnished study of the Palestinian schoolbooks. Just how unvarnished, we’ll see this October.

Britain maintains that it doesn’t fund the writing of texts and only pays salaries of “vetted teachers” — that is, those who are not official Hamas members — who work in Palestinian schools. But IMPACT-se says it is the teachers who write and use the textbooks that are full of incitements to hatred and violence against Jews; if they are writing and teaching such things, it is irrelevant whether those teachers are members of Hamas or not.

In funding the teachers who “write and use the textbooks,” the U.K. has a responsibility to monitor their content. The British government should be monitoring what it has been paying for, and promptly stop subsidizing the writing, and use, of malevolent texts that encourage race hatred of, and violence against, Jews.

Lobby groups in Britain, including the parliamentary Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel, have repeatedly asked the British government to investigate what was being taught in Palestinian schools across the curriculum.

After such requests, the BritishCFX government – before Brexit – agreed to fund an initial report on Palestinian textbooks, to be carried out by the Georg Eckert Institute. It is that initial report, and the subsequent “interim” report funded by the E.U., which have now been revealed as comically incorrect.

To date there have been two reports carried out by the same teams at the Georg Eckert Institute: an “inception” report, paid for by the UK, and an “interim” report, which has been paid for by the EU.

An initial 177-page summary of the interim report — since removed from the Georg Eckert website — shows identical research to the first inception report, as well as identical staffers, headed by Aurelia Streit.

Streit is a former intern at the House of Commons for the Labour MP Afzal Khan, a member of Labour Friends of Palestine.

Aurelia Streit, who headed the staffers preparing both the “inception report” and the “interim report” (which showed the same findings) at the Eckert Institute, may have known about, or even deliberately chosen, the wrong set of textbooks to study. She appears not to be a disinterested investigator; she previously served as an intern in the House of Commons for Afzal Khan, a member of Labour Friends of Palestine. It is possible that she deliberately chose the inoffensive set of Arabic-language textbooks, prepared by Israelis for use in Jerusalem schools, as the object of study, hoping that they would manage to pass for “Palestinian” textbooks.

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