Senator Clinton Condemns Palestinian Textbook Bias

July 7, 2008 - 8:32 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Thursday called for a rejection of new Palestinian textbooks that portray a world without Israel, refer to Jews as "Zionist gangs" and rewrite the Holocaust to ignore atrocities committed against Jews.

"We must stop the propaganda to which Palestinian children are exposed," Clinton said in a news conference in Washington, D.C. "These children deserve an education that instills respect for life and peace instead of glorifying death and violence."

Clinton, a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, called the conference to release a report by Palestinian Media Watch, a Jerusalem-based group that monitors Palestinian media for anti-Israel bias. She said the books "do not give Palestinian children an education, they give them an indoctrination."

The report found that 12th-grade textbooks issued in November by the Palestinian Authority "repeatedly reject Israel's right to exist, present the conflict as a religious battle for Islam, teach Israel's founding as imperialism, and actively portray a picture of the Middle East, both verbally and visually, in which Israel does not exist at all."

According to the report, the textbooks refer to the establishment of Israel as "a catastrophe that is unprecedented in history, when the Zionist gangs stole Palestine and expelled its people from their cities, their villages, their lands and their homes, and established the State of Israel."

The textbooks repeatedly refer to "Palestine" in terms that would make the existence of Israel impossible. Maps used in textbooks throughout the Palestinian educational system do not recognize Israel.

The report found that the textbooks also avoid describing the atrocities committed by Nazis against Jews during World War II.

"The new book writes selectively about the issues of the Holocaust, citing Nazi racist ideology and restrictions the Nazis placed on 'inferior' non-Aryan nations, yet it makes no reference to the Holocaust or to Jews," it states.

"The schoolbook even teaches about the post-war trials of 'senior Nazi leaders as war criminals' but make no mention of the crimes for which the 'war criminals' were on trial," the report says of the textbook's coverage of the Nuremberg trials.

Clinton called the textbooks "disturbing," adding that the content "profoundly poisons the mind of these children."

"Hate has no place in the curriculum of schools and the glorification of violence has no place in the education of children," she said, calling on the Palestinian Authority to repudiate the texts it has already approved.

"I believe education is one of the keys to lasting peace and security in the Middle East and the greater region," Clinton said. "You cannot build a peaceful, stable, safe future on such a hate-filled, violent and radical foundation."

Clinton has long been critical of the Palestinian textbooks. In 2000, she said that "all future aid to the Palestinian Authority must be contingent on strict compliance with their obligation to change all textbooks in all grades."

She stood by that comment Thursday, telling Cybercast News Service that, "We're withholding money from the Hamas government, which I think is absolutely appropriate, and we're trying to ensure that no country gives any funding to the Hamas government unless and until they renounce violence and accept Israel's right to exist."

Afif Safieh, the head of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) Mission to the United States, did not return calls requesting comment Thursday.

M.J. Rosenberg, director of policy for the liberal Israel Policy Forum, called concern about the textbooks a "side issue," adding that there are controversies about educational material on both sides of the debate.

"In Israel there's a huge controversy because the education minister said that she wanted the textbooks next year to show the West Bank as not part of Israel, but as disputed territory and immediately people were demanding that she be fired for even saying that and it become a big controversy," Rosenberg said.

He said the Palestinian textbooks are reflecting the fact that "the Israelis and the Palestinians have been in kind of a war situation since 2000."

"With all the violence that's going on I think this is ... kind of a peripheral issue," Rosenberg said. "The central issue is that people are killing each other."

The Israel Policy Forum describes itself as an organization "dedicated to mobilizing American Jews in support of sustained U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Middle East." Critics note that it encourages Israeli concessions to the Arabs and supports an independent Palestinian state.

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