Fayyad welcomes Israeli, Palestinian textbooks study

BETHLEHEM, February 4, 2013 (Ma’an) – The head of the Palestinian Ahuthority government, Salam Fayyad welcomed a joint Israeli-Palestinian-US research study into school textbooks in Israel and Palestine, which was released on Monday.

Israeli leaders have long drawn on the accusation that Palestinian textbooks are littered with incitement against Israelis and the state of Israel to demonstrate that the Western-backed PA is not really committed to peace.

In this new study, which was ordered by the inter-religious group Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy land, both Israel and Palestine were criticized for showing the other side of the conflict as an enemy.

However, the two parties were not guilty of dehumanizing or demonizing content, which was rare on both sides: Instead, the main problem was that the textbooks presented a one-sided narrative of the history.

The PA’s education ministry fully cooperated with the researchers because of their “firm conviction of the significance of the issue and the need to discuss it on objective and professional bases, rather than preconceived notions and stereotypes” Fayyad said.

Fayyad also commented that the study proves “what we have repeatedly affirmed in response to allegations (that Palestinian textbooks incite against Israel).”

Fayyad added that he had instructed the ministry to study the report and use its recommendations as a guide for updating its curriculum.

On the other side, the leader of the new second largest party in Israel, Yesh Atid, wrote in the party platform that Palestinian textbooks must be dealt with as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

The joint study was however rejected by Israel’s ministry of education in January, which called it “biased, unprofessional and significantly lacking in objectivity,” and referred to “bodies that wish to slander the Israeli education system and the state of Israel.”

The study was led by Palestinian associate professor Sami Adwan, Israeli professor Daniel Bar-Tal — both education experts — and Bruce E. Wexler, professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine.

In response to the Israeli government’s stance, Fayyad berated the Israeli government for rejecting the study and its recommendations. He called on Israeli authorities to “desist from attempts to detract from the objectivity and professionalism of the study because its conclusions are not in line with its standing preconceived positions.”

Source: Ma’an News