Sunday, 26 Sep 2021 - 20 of Tishri, 5782
EU

For first time, EU senior official publicly states that Palestinian textbooks are ‘deeply problematic’ , ahead of EU Parliament meeting to discuss freezing funds

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“It is very clear that the study does reveal the existence of very deeply problematic content…changes to the curriculum are essential…full compliance of all educational material with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence and non-violence must be ensured as must any reference of antisemitic nature need to be addressed and taken out,” stated Henrike Trautman.

The European Parliament’s Budget Committee will meet at the end of this month to vote on 2022 allocations to the Palestinian Authority. Several proposals have been tabled to freeze a portion of funding to the PA until the textbooks are changed.

Ahead of a crucial vote on next year EU funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA), a senior European Commission official stated that PA textbooks are deeply ‘’problematic’’ and can no longer be tolerated in their current form as they perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by promoting hatred and violence, alongside employing antisemitic tropes.   

At a meeting of the European Parliament’s Working Group Against Antisemitism on Thursday in Brussels to discuss EU study on Palestinian textbooks, Henrike Trautmann, head of unit at the European Commission Directorate General which oversees all aid to the Palestinian education sector, said: “It is very clear that the study does reveal the existence of very deeply problematic content…changes to the curriculum are essential…full compliance of all educational material with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence and non-violence must be ensured as must any reference of antisemitic nature need to be addressed and taken out.”

The EU study, by German Georg Eckert Institute reviewing the Palestinian textbooks, was published last June.

At the EU Parliament meeting,  members of the committee condemned antisemitism and glorification of violence in the PA curriculum. EU Parliament Vice-President Nicola Beer, a member of the liberal Renew Europe political group, clearly tied European funding to the PA to hate teaching:

“It hurts us to read about the content of textbooks that only exist thanks to an educational infrastructure that the European Union, together with other donors, enable the Palestinian Authority to have. Depicting Jews as dangerous, demonizing them, perpetuating anti-Jewish prejudices is just upsetting. But reading about schoolbooks – and here I speak as a mother – glorifying terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi, presenting cold-blooded violence against civilians, including a lot of children as resistance leaves me speechless.”

The European Parliament’s Budget Committee will meet at the end of this month to vote on 2022 allocations to the Palestinian Authority. Several proposals have been tabled to freeze a portion of funding to the PA until the textbooks are changed.

Two weeks ago, at a hearing of the European Parliament foreign affairs committee, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, acknowledged that Palestinian textbooks contain problematic material, while still insisting that the agency takes steps to prevent it from being taught, but without showing that how this is actually accomplished.

He also stated that antisemitism, intolerance glorification of terrorism is present in PA textbooks in UNRWA schools and affirmed that his agency had revised the textbooks used in its schools following allegations of antisemitic content.

But several members of the committee questioned him on continued teaching of hate, violence and antisemitism in the textbooks and UNRWA materials, citing a recent report by IMPACT-se,  an organization that analyzes schoolbooks and curricula for compliance with UNESCO-defined standards on peace and tolerance. on the textbooks.

The EU is UNRWA’s largest and most consistent institutional donor.

In June, European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, whose department covers aid to UNRWA, issued statements calling to consider conditioning aid to the Palestinian education sector on “full adherence to UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, co-existence, non-violence” and a “need for Palestinian education reform.”

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