Labour Friends of Israel is stepping up its campaign to pressure the government to act over incitement in the Palestinian education system.
LFI chair Joan Ryan secured a parliamentary debate on the matter, held this week in Westminster Hall.
Opening her speech, Ms Ryan said: “Given Britain’s long-standing advocacy of a two-state solution, I also believe it is appropriate for us to provide aid to the PA.” However, she added, “British aid is not a blank cheque”.
The UK should demand “that the PA adheres to the principle of non-violence and respect for human rights” and the Department for International Development should “take action when it does not”.
Examples of incitement from the Palestinian Authority abound. Official children’s TV programmes refer to Jews as “barbaric monkeys”, “wretched pigs” and the “most evil among creations”.
Sports tournaments are also named after so-called “martyrs”, who carry out terror attacks against Israeli civilians. “The Ahmad Manasrah Football Tournament”, for example, held in November 2015, honoured a 13-year-old who stabbed and critically wounded two Israelis in Jerusalem as part of the “knife intifada” one month previously.
In this week’s debate, Ms Ryan focused on a new Palestinian Authority curriculum, introduced in 2016 and 2017, that represents a major step backwards in standards for peace and tolerance, according to the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se).
Their report found the new curriculum “exerts pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence in a more extensive and sophisticated manner”; has expanded its focus from the “demonisation of Israel to providing a rationale for war”; and is “more radical than ever, purposefully and strategically encouraging Palestinian children to sacrifice themselves to martydom”.
Particularly egregious examples include children of 13 taught Newton’s Second Law through the image of a boy with a slingshot targeting soldiers, and children of 11 told that martyrdom and jihad are “the most important meanings of life”.
Remarking on the textbooks, Ms Ryan said that “Palestinian children deserve so much better than to be taught that the best they can aspire to in life is death.” The LFI chair condemned the slow pace of government action on the matter and its dismissal of the IMPACT-se report.
Ms Ryan called on the government to take action. “It should suspend all aid to the PA which directly or indirectly finances those teaching and implementing this curriculum until the PA commits to wholesale and urgent revisions of it.”
LFI parliamentary supporter Ian Austin agreed, and asked why the UK does not give more support to coexistence initiatives, such as Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow. LFI have a long-standing campaign in support of coexistence initiatives, titled ‘For Israel, For Palestine, For Peace’.
LFI’s campaigning work on incitement in education led to Middle East Minister Alistair Burt announcing a “rigorous and independent review” of the Palestinian Authority curriculum in a letter to Ms Ryan and Mr Austin last month. However in this week’s debate Mr Burt said the review would not be complete until September 2019.
In response, LFI director Jennifer Gerber said: “It is totally unacceptable that the government has announced today that its review of the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum of hate will not conclude until September 2019. This is two years after LFI first raised concerns and, all the while, more Palestinian children are being taught – at UK taxpayer’s expense – lessons in the virtues of violence and martyrdom.”
“All UK aid to the PA which directly or indirectly finances those teaching and implementing this curriculum must be immediately suspended until the PA commits to wholesale and urgent revisions of the curriculum.”