Promises of Reform in Palestinian Schools Unmet

Two years have passed since the horrific massacre of eight young yeshiva students at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem. With the turning of administrations in Washington, and a renewed effort by the Obama administration to focus on "moving peace forward" between the Israelis and Palestinians, we are left to examine the status quo on the ground.

Part of the original -- circa 1994 -- Oslo agreements was the commitment on both sides to refrain from incitement, as well as the agreement to amend the educational systems to reflect the new reality of peaceful coexistence. Clearly this was turned squarely on its head with the "election" of Hamas in Gaza several years ago. But what has happened in the territories under Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority on the West Bank? Has the PA turned over a new leaf in educating its young people to be progressive in the pursuit of coexistence alongside Israel?

Emphatically, not at all.

In a recent Jerusalem Post report (Feb 2, 2010) Ben Hartman writes that a British taxpayer watchdog group unveiled two reports detailing the role of European foreign aid in the transmission of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic narratives in Palestinian Authority schools and media in Jerusalem.

The reports, “Palestinian Hate Education Since Annapolis” and “Funding Hate Education,” detail what the Taxpayers' Alliance refers to as a campaign of "demonizing Israel" largely funded by European taxpayers -- a policy it says diminishes long-term hopes for peace.

The Taxpayers' Alliance said it has taken up the issue of incitement against Israel in the Palestinian territories because it believes there must be greater scrutiny of aid programs for the PA, so that taxpayer money from the UK and the EU no longer funds programs that harm the peace process and the national interests of British and EU citizens.

Matthew Sinclair, research director for the Taxpayers' Alliance, said at a press briefing in Jerusalem, held with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, that in Palestinian society, "we're looking at a population where 42 percent are under the age of 15. You have a huge younger generation whose views are going to shape the situation for a long time.

"Peace lies in the hearts and minds of people and it's vital that the right attitudes are encouraged in people and the right conditions are created for peace," Sinclair continued.

"It's rare we see it [foreign aid] doing as much harm to the British taxpayers as we do in this case," he said.

It’s not just British taxpayers’ money going to fund hate in the Palestinian Authority. In October of last year, USAID invested almost $65 million in infrastructure in the West Bank -- money that included the establishment and construction of four new schools. Since 1994 (and the signing of Oslo), USAID has invested more than $2.5 billion in the Palestinian areas via projects intended to “reduce poverty, improve health and education, build infrastructure, create jobs, and promote democracy and good governance.”

One might be unsurprised, if appalled, by the persistence of hate in Hamas-sponsored curricula. But from the Palestinian Authority, improvements in the state of the educational curricula should not only be anticipated; they should be expected and required.  Unfortunately, the PA's uncooperativeness was cheered by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who said (after transferring $200 million in aid to the PA in June 2009) she had been assured that President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad “have put in place the foundations of a responsible, transparent, accountable government."

Yet, according to the most recent study commissioned by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Herzliya, a new generation of Palestinian students is being inculcated in rejectionism. For example, here is a listing of just a few items: