Steps to a two state solution: For Israel, for Palestine, for peace
Step Twenty Six: End incitement in the Palestinian school curriculum
In 2017, the Palestinian Authority introduced a new school curriculum which teaches the virtues of martyrdom, describes terrorists as “heroes” and repeats antisemitic tropes.
The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) has published a series of reports which argue that the 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 martyrdom”. A long-delayed report from the Georg Eckert Institute, commissioned by the European Union and backed by the British government, confirmed in June 2021 that the curriculum promotes antisemitism and incitement to violence, celebrates terrorism and jihad, and rejects peacemaking and reconciliation with Israel.
Through the payment of the salaries of PA Ministry of Education civil servants and teachers involved in implementing it, British aid has directly helped to support the delivery of the curriculum. Despite ministers’ claims, moreover, the latest analysis of the 2020-21 curriculum by IMPACT-se found there have been no substantive changes to the most problematic content and, in fact, the curriculum has become progressively worse with each revision since its initial introduction. “No changes relating to existing problematic content which supports hate speech, antisemitism, incitement, violence, and encouragement of martyrdom and jihad have been made in the Palestinian Authority’s 2020–21 school textbooks,” it suggests. “Most adjustments keep such material intact or make it worse.”
International aid to support the education of Palestinian children and young people is vital. That aid should work to enhance the prospects of peace. The UK government should follow the example of Norway and refuse aid to the PA that directly or indirectly finances the implementation of the curriculum pending a commitment to substantive and meaningful changes to the curriculum. Palestinian children and young people should not pay the price for their government’s failings, so, during any suspension, UK aid should instead be redirected to a Palestinian Peace Fund which would invest in education, children’s and youth projects run by NGOs with a proven track record of promoting the values of peace and coexistence. LFI also supports the passage of legislation – such as that introduced in 2019 by our former chair, Dame Louise Ellman – which would mandate that any UK assistance to the PA education system must comply with international values of peace and tolerance.