16 July, 2020

Fighting Incitement to Terror

LFI is at the forefront of campaigning in the UK against Palestinian Authority incitement to violence, and British taxpayer money being spent to support that incitement.

We are particularly concerned about incitement aimed at children and young people. The Department for International Development (DfID), is a key supporter of the Palestinian education system through the financial contributions it makes to the salaries of teachers and PA Ministry of Education and Further Education civil servants in the West Bank.

Sadly, PA education and youth policy too often incites violence and glorifies terrorists.

The PA, for instance, names schools, sports tournaments and summer camps after terrorists.

More than 20 Palestinian Authority schools in the West Bank and Gaza are named after terrorists or Nazi collaborators. These include:

  • Three schools are named after Dalal Mughrabi, who led the infamous 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, in which 38 civilians, 13 of them children, died.
  • Three schools are named after Salah Khalaf, the head of the Black September group which carried out the 1972 Munich massacre in which 11 Israeli athletes were brutally tortured and murdered.
  • Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas who instigated the suicide bombing campaign designed to destroy the Oslo peace process.
  • Nash’at Abu Jabara, who built the suicide belts used by bombers during the Second Intifada in which hundreds of Israeli civilians were injured and murdered.
  • Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during the British mandate, a Nazi collaborator who moved to Berlin during the second world war, was responsible for an SS division, and fought against the release of 5,000 Jewish children who perished in the gas ​chambers.

These are not local decisions. They are the deliberate choice of the Palestinian Authority at the highest levels. As the PA news agency said in 2015: “The naming of schools and changes are the responsibility of the Minister of Education.”

Despite this, DfID has told LFI that it didn’t know whether any of the teachers whose salaries it pays are employed in schools named after terrorists and Nazi collaborators.

Our primary focus over the past three years has been on the new school curriculum introduced by the PA in September 2017, which is in part funded by the UK.

It extols the virtues of becoming a jihadi and includes schoolbooks that teach five-year-olds the word for “martyr” and “attack” and 10-year-olds that “drinking the cup of bitterness with glory is much sweeter than a pleasant long life accompanied by humiliation”. Teenagers are taught that those who sacrifice themselves will be rewarded with “72 virgin brides in paradise”. Terrorists – such as Dalal Mughrabi – are described as “heroes”.

The textbooks also contain violent poems which extol the virtues of “sacrificing blood”. Maths books ask nine-year-olds to calculate the number of “martyrs” who have died in uprisings against the Israelis – and put a picture of a funeral next to the exercise. A science exercise teaches Newton’s Second Law through the image of a boy with a slingshot targeting soldiers.

The schoolbooks include lessons in “jihad” or Holy War and contain antisemitic messages, such as accusing Jews of sexually molesting Muslim women and claiming that they attempted to kill the Prophet Mohammed.

Alerted to the issue by the comprehensive research carried out by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), LFI began calling for the UK government to act in September 2017.

After initially denying the existence of the problem, DfID promised a review of the curriculum in spring 2018. It then announced it wanted an independent, international review and promised that its work would be completed by September 2019. That much-delayed review has now been commissioned and we await its publication.

Ministers have repeatedly refused LFI requests that the UK should suspend all aid to the PA which directly or indirectly finances those teaching and implementing the curriculum until the authority commits to wholesale and urgent revisions of it.

In January 2019 former LFI chair Dame Louise Ellman introduced a 10-minute rule bill that would mandate that UK assistance to the PA education system must comply with international values of peace and tolerance. It would also require an annual review to ensure compliance. You can watch Dame Louise Ellman’s speech introducing the bill below: