Published on: 2013-02-10 @ 12:02
Reflection of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the school textbooks in several countries
(Abridged translation. Completely on the Russian version)
A very special place in shaping the world outlook of the younger generation provided they have a high sensitivity and lack of personal experience takes school. In turn, what school puts into the heads of their students, to large extent, is material recommended to teachers by the training materials.
Next, we will review just one problem: how the history of the state of Israel and the causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict is delivered in textbooks of various countries.
At the initiative of the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC), an examination of the content of school history textbooks has been conducted. Over four months, an expert group presented by the senior research fellow of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Lokshin, a senior researcher at the Institute of General History, RAS, history teacher Elena Lebedeva and candidate of historical sciences, professor of Krasnogorsk Lyceum Natalia Moskin studied textbooks, study guides and readers approved by the Ministry of Education for secondary schools.
Experts note that in the paragraph on the State of Israel the very title of the section, “The Middle East. The Arab-Israeli conflict ” glosses over the idea of a Jewish state in the “best” of the Soviet traditions. The emphasis is placed on the coverage of the conflict, and the style of coverage shows undisguised sympathy for the authors to the Arab side of the conflict. For example, as the result of the War of Independence (which is called the first Arab-Israeli war) they only exemplify the Israeli occupation of the most part of the still unoccupied Arab state. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of Arab refugees who left the territory occupied by the Israeli army. In this, the authors see the reason of the conflict.
Over the recent years, the Germans have developed a critical view of Israel. According to surveys by the German agency Forsa, 49% of Germans believe this state aggressive and 13% of Germans put into question the existence of Israel. Most of the Germans to some extent consider Israel a threat to world peace and the treatment of the Palestinians is compared to the Nazi crimes against the Jews during the Second World War.
Oleg Stefanovic and Andrey Soroko-Tsyupa’s Russian textbooks of history for 9th grade highlight this problem in a more balanced way. I wonder they form such attitude to Jews and to Israel for the young generation in Germany? Is this a reaction to the Holocaust? Attempt to show that the Jews are no better Nazis who destroyed them? Which scenario we are being prepared then?
Journalist Gideon Bess analyzed the representation of Israel in modern German history books and political science issued by large publishers Klett, Cornelsen and Westermann who hold most of the market textbooks. The results he achieved are frightening.
A description of the State of Israel in 1947–48′s is worth to start with. The history of this event, i.e., the History of Zionism and anti-Semitism, anti-Jewish pogroms in the Eastern Europe in the early 20th century, the foundation of Tel Aviv and many kibbutzes, the Balfour Declaration are usually absent in the textbooks.
All the wars since 1948 are presented by the authors of textbooks as aggressive and offensive by Israel and defensive – by the Arab countries.
The depiction of the so called expulsion of the Arab population as a result of these wars is also erroneous and tendentious. While even the Arab historians estimate the number of refugees as not greater than 750.000 people, the German students in the classroom learn that there were more than 1 million.
Nothing, of course, in the textbooks says about calls of Arab leaders to the Arab population of Palestine, to leave the combat areas for a short time to enable their armies to freely exterminate all Jews. The textbook authors conceal that hundreds of thousands of Jews at the same time were forced to leave Arab and North African countries because of increased anti-Semitism.
The first and the second Intifada dating back to 1988, the authors of the describe German textbooks describe with understanding and sympathy for the Palestinian militancy. Thus, the intifada is being touted as “the war of liberation of the Palestinian people” and the PLO is presented as the “fight the guerrillas.”
The threat of Palestinian terrorism to the Israelis population is deliberately understated in the textbooks and the emphasis shifts to its goals and motivations which are also set out mistakenly. They equal Palestinian terrorism to the use of the Israeli army. Terrorist attacks are called “tools” of the Palestinians in their “discussions” with Israel.
Nowhere it is stated that the purpose of all Arab groups and government agencies is to destroy all Jews. Instead they explain to students that Palestinians have no other weapons but the attacks perpetrated by suicide bombers. For the Palestinians, the terror is an “act of self-defense.” Israel’s army is blamed for the fact that they “kill” Palestinians for the sake of protection of its citizens.
Overall, the picture presented in the textbooks of Israel is distorted, affected with hatred, chauvinism and brutality against the Jewish state.
Nowhere in the textbooks authors say about the fact that Israel, despite the constant threat of external attack, has created an innovative industry, cultural diversity, pulsating music scene and much more let alone it could be a model of democracy and civil rights for many European countries.
Publishers are not held accountable for what they represented in textbooks in fact is entirely negative picture of Israel, hereditary with prejudices and embedding in German society. According to the German newspaper Die Welt, most Germans to some extent consider Israel a threat to world peace. Moreover, the treatment of Palestinians is compared to Nazi crimes against the Jews during the Second World War.
Interestingly, the U.S. government has financed a study committee consisting of Israeli, American and Palestinian scientists who for three years examined textbooks used in Palestinian and Israeli schools. But of no less interest is why the U.S. government has not attended to what is happening in the United States.
Freedom of speech is no doubts a fundamental principle of the Western civilization. However, freedom of speech at a rally or an article written in the newspaper is not the same as imposing its views to students who are required to attend classes and literally depend on the teacher. The lack of control over the learning process and random selection of teachers can lead to unpredictable consequences.
Published by: Avrutin Mark
Posted under: Publications