A veteran British lawmaker has blasted the Palestinian Authority (PA) in an op-ed published in The Times of Israel on Wednesday for teaching a curriculum in internationally funded, PA-operated schools “which incites hatred, glorifies violence and promotes terror.”
Dame Louise Ellman, a Labour MP and vice-chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, wrote that “nothing could do more to harm the cause for peace than fostering old hatreds and prejudices in another generation of children and young people.”
In January, the lawmaker introduced in parliament the International Development Assistance (Values Promoted in Palestinian National Authority Schools) Bill, which demands that teaching programs in PA-operated schools sponsored by British aid should promote values such as peace, freedom, tolerance, and non-discrimination.
“Some of the content is truly horrifying,” Dame Louise wrote. “Five-year-olds are taught the word for ‘martyr’ as part of their first lessons in Arabic; 11-year-olds taught that martyrdom and jihad are ‘the most important meanings of life’; and teenagers taught those who sacrifice themselves will be rewarded with ‘72 virgin brides in paradise.’”
“These lessons in hatred,” she said, “are being funded through the Department for International Development’s aid to the PA education budget.” Britain is set to donate £125 million ($160 million) to the PA by 2021, of which £20 million ($25.6 million) will be devoted to the education curriculum.
The problem of incitement in PA textbooks prompted the European Union’s Parliament to pass legislation in April 2018 that would prohibit EU aid from funding anti-Israel texts.
According to Dame Louise, in the textbooks, “there is no suggestion that peace with Israel is desirable or possible and references to previous peace agreements, summits and proposals, which were present in schoolbooks, have been expunged.”
Instead, she noted, Palestinian textbooks are full of “lies about the Al-Aqsa mosque being under threat and calls to ‘eliminate the usurper’ — by conquering Haifa and Jaffa.”
Dame Louise attacked the British government for ignoring months of warnings by the Labour Friends of Israel that British aid money was being spent by the PA on material that incites murder and violence against Jews. “The upshot of this scandalous inaction is that by September, this appalling curriculum will have been taught in Palestinian schools for a third year running,” the MP said.
It was only last week that the British government finally announced a substantial review of Palestinian school textbooks amid concerns that aid money is funding anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hate.
Dame Louise also lambasted the PA for lying about taking steps to correct the problem. “The PA has taken an utterly uncompromising stance,” she wrote. “In September ministers said the PA had ‘taken action to help address concerns raised’. But this is simply untrue; there were no major changes in the current school year, and in January the PA Minister of Education made clear his rejection of what he called an ‘attack’ on the curriculum led by the ‘Zionist lobby.’”
The MP concluded: “British aid should support the goal — shared by MPs across the House of Commons — of a two-state solution.
“It cannot and must not make that goal harder to achieve.”