HATRED IS NOT INBORN, BUT LEARNED. Because the architects of the Oslo peace accord understood this plain truth, they determined it essential for Jewish and Palestinian schools alike to teach their students, from an early age, values promoting mutual acceptance and respect. As an interim agreement between the two sides stated, "Israel and [the Palestinians] will ensure that their respective educational systems contribute to the peace . . . and will refrain from the introduction of any motifs that could adversely affect the process of reconciliation." Tragically, only the Israelis have abided by that agreement.
Since Oslo, Israeli schools have implemented a comprehensive "peace education" program that utilizes books encouraging students to accept and respect Arabs. Through stories and anecdotes, these books deplore prejudice. They present Arab traditions as admirable, and Arab people as good human beings whose hopes and dreams are very similar to those of their Jewish counterparts.
By contrast, Palestinian schools teach a form of anti-Jewish hatred and intolerance not unlike what was taught to German children during the Nazi era. For instance, ninth-grade Palestinian students study from official textbooks that assert, "Treachery and disloyalty are character traits of the Jews, and therefore one should beware of them." These books depict Jews as satanic, violent, "thieving conquerors" who have stolen Arab land and must be slaughtered.
Further, Palestinian textbooks glorify jihad and martyrdom as the only legitimate means to liberating "Palestine." Even children's poems are laced with calls to war. Fifth-graders memorize such lines as, "I shall take my soul in my hand and hurl it into the abyss of death." Sixth-graders read a story glorifying a young boy who is raised with "the love of jihad flowing through his veins and filling every fiber of his being"; a boy who experiences his greatest "joy" when he sees "the enemy lying dead" or "fleeing for their lives." An eighth-grade literary text denies any Jewish connection to the Western Wall, and teaches children to identify Muslim and Christian holy sites but completely omits any reference to Jewish sites.
The propaganda campaign is relentless. A fourth-grade religion book reads, "The Jews are enemies to the prophets and believers." According to an eighth-grade text, "Mankind has suffered from the yoke of racism at all times, because Satan has made their evil deeds seem beautiful...Such people are the Jews." In a book used by sixteen-year-olds, the Nazi Holocaust is depicted as a response to the Jewish people’s "greed and religious fanaticism." Still another volume suggests, "Perhaps Allah brought the Jews to our land, so their death would take place here, as it did in their wars with the Romans." These can hardly be mistaken for the words of a "peace curriculum."
Palestinian schoolbooks make no mention of the concept of peace with Israel, nor of the peace process initiated at Oslo. Indeed the Jerusalem Post reported in November 2001 that the word "peace" has entirely disappeared from these books. Moreover, the maps contained therein do not even acknowledge Israel’s existence, instead depicting "Palestine" as an Arab land stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The Palestinian "problem," students learn, is not Israel’ s control over the West Bank and Gaza, but Israel’s very existence. They are further taught that Jews are not only enemies of Islam, but constitute an illegitimate, foreign presence in the region. From the earliest age, children learn of their religious obligation to help drive out the infidels and reclaim "every centimeter" of "Palestine," the "stolen" land.
These anti-Jewish attitudes filter down from the very highest level of the Palestinian Authority. During a recent visit to a school for Palestinian girls, Yasser Arafat himself told the students of the glorious exploits of two female terrorists, Abir Wahidi and Dalal Magrabi; the latter not only participated in a deadly bus attack against Israelis, but further distinguished herself by snatching a Jewish baby from its mother and hurling it into the already burning bus.
It should also be noted that the lessons in hate extend beyond the classroom walls. Youth groups and summer camps run by the Palestinian Authority reinforce the anti-Jewish rhetoric of the schools. For instance, among the songs children learn at these camps are such classics as, "We’ll Throw Them into the Sea," "Revolution Until Victory," and "My Children in the Suicide Squads." Boys and girls as young as age six are trained in weapons handling and hand-to-hand combat. One videotaped camp activity aired on Palestinian television shows a group of youngsters joining with soldiers to sing the Palestinian national anthem. In the background is a huge mural of the Temple Mount, where Arab warriors on horseback prance proudly over a battlefield soaked in Jewish blood and strewn with Jewish skulls. Another video clip of camp life glorifies children who yell "commando" and then jump through a ring of fire.
Young Palestinian children are commonly used in demonstrations to address crowds with such rhetoric as "Death to the Jews" and "I will eat the flesh of the conquered." Palestinian schools often send their students on "field trips" where they participate in angry demonstrations against Israel, and the Palestinian Authority uses children’s television programs to disseminate fierce rhetorical calls to jihad against Jews.
All in all, Palestinian leadership has done a remarkably thorough job of violating its pledge to promote tolerance and respect. Thus it is no surprise that a seemingly endless parade of young people can hardly wait for the day when they, too, can walk into a crowded Jewish shop or café and blow themselves to smithereens.