Incitement, Bias: A Textbook Case

For a long time, Israel’s supporters have been trying to draw media attention to the massive problem of incitement in Palestinian school books. So I was initially relieved to see the LA Times pick up on the issue.

Problem is, reporter Ed Sanders investigated Israeli censorship of Palestinian texts in eastern Jerusalem schools funded by Israel after Jalal Abukhater raised the issue at +972 Magazine (I’ll come back to this Israeli web site’s connection in a minute).  To his credit, Sanders raises two key points.

1. Palestinian texts are inciting kids:

Much of the editing, they say, focuses on Palestinian poetry that promotes the role of children in the struggle against occupation or appears to glorify martyrdom. One eighth-grade textbook featured a poem that referred to the “ecstasy” of a child dying in martyrdom. Another stated that “if jihad could speak, it would call you to enter it.”

Other cuts included a 10th-grade history lesson that described Zionism as a “racist” movement with “alleged” historical ties to the Holy Land. Another book featured a picture of a British Mandate-era postage stamp that had been digitally altered to remove a Hebrew inscription.

2. Israel funds these schools, so it should have some say in what’s taught:

Officials in Jerusalem, which funds about 50 public schools in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and provides partial assistance to dozens of private institutions, say they have the right to ensure textbooks are accurate, don’t incite violence and respect Israel’s legitimacy.

The LA Times could have touched on the issue of incitement in the PA’s education system, which actually produces the offending books, instead of going after Israel for trying to deal with it in Jerusalem. Palestinian Media Watch has been crying foul over the PA schoolbooks for years.

I guess Big Media prefers to ignore the incitement until the Palestinians complain that Israel is censoring them.

As for +972, I wonder if the some of the PR-minded people there are using their press contacts to seed stories like this in the mainstream media. Nothing wrong with plugging stories – I just hope the MSM’s responsible enough to rely on more sources.

More background at the Jerusalem Post.

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