Of Palestinian textbooks and Nazi swastikas
“This is not normal,” begins the headline of Dion J. Pierre’s 23 January 2023 article in The Algemeiner, and continues, “Antisemitism in Palestinian School Curriculum Persists as Problem Despite Global Outrage, Experts Say.” It “persists as a problem,” experts say. Let us take a careful look at both this “problem” and its “persistence.”
Pierre quotes some appalling racist, anti-Semitic and violence-glorifying tropes, that, “continues to show up in educational materials,” despite years of international outrage and pressure. As Pierre’s sources see it, such material “contributes to prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Saying that anti-Semitism “keeps showing up” betrays a particular delusion on the part of so many, including Pierre and his sources. The quoted experts and lawmakers think they are doing the Palestinian Authority a favour by making them aware that these sentences are unhelpful in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The subtext points the finger at Palestinian incompetence that makes such anti-Semitism keep showing up. The underlying assumption, of course, is that the Palestinians share the experts’ and lawmakers’ interest in resolving the conflict. What else?
Certainly, this material inculcates anti-Semitism, and if that were all that it did, perhaps a generous expert would see a cultural blindspot. But the material also glorifies violence together with anti-Semitism. This is not just about hating Jews, it is about grossly harming them and killing them. These are not mistakes that “keep showing up.” They are part of a conscious programme actively sustained. It is the same anti-Semitism and violence with which the Muslim holy texts are replete. Jihad means permanent war between Muslims and non-Muslims, especially Jews, in which no truce may last for more than ten years, enough time to get the next generation into the field.
For the Palestinian Authority[ (PA)], the strategy is to use the unique authoritative nature of textbooks to create a society, which is essentially violent,” Marcus Sheff, the CEO of Impact-se, an Israeli education watchdog, told The Algemeiner. “If you look across the Palestinian textbooks from cover to cover, as we have from line to line, there is no Israel. There is a yearning for places located inside of Israel, and there is, if you like, an enthusiasm for violence conveyed in their lauding those who have been violent in the past and in their justifying violence today.
They do not need “the unique authoritative nature of textbooks” to create a violent society. The have the ultimate authoritative textbooks, the Qur’an for lay Muslims and Shari’a for the “scholars”. Nothing in the Palestinian textbooks comes close to the violence in the Muslim holy texts. The real incompetence lies with Marcus Sheff and his colleagues for not knowing this. And if they did know it, then by keeping the Islamic sources out of their analysis, they are as guilty as the Palestinians for “prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” or more accurately, the jihad against Israel.
Sheff, apparently, does not wonder about two belligerent and mutually-undermining organisations, the PA and Hamas, coming up with such similar educational materials independently of each other. While noticing that their materials are “some of the most antisemitic in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region,” he sees in this only the Palestinian hope of annihilating the Jewish State. Hope and violence are two very different things, and if Sheff should pay even the slightest attention to the common source that inspires the educational policy of both the PA and Hamas, he ought to discover that there is no hope in the Palestinian psyche, only violence. They do not hope for a future without a Jewish state, they are physically bringing that future about, by killing all Jews. This is why violently anti-Semitic material “keeps showing up” and will always keep showing up. To give up such material is to give up on “Palestine”. Violent anti-Semitism is so fundamental to Islam that:
The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.
A Jewish state means Jews, these “sons of apes and pigs,” walking tall, Jews educated, Jews prosperous, Jews confident and, to add insult to injury, Jews holding Muslim land by force of arms, and lording it over Muslims on it. A Jewish state is a preposterous affront not only to the Last Hour, but to the divinely-ordained status of Muslims as “the best of peoples.” While a Jewish state exists, the killing of Jews cannot be completed and the Last Hour will most decidedly not come. In the meantime, Muslim Palestinians are forced to settle for doing what little they can: today a soldier here, a family there; tomorrow a bus stop here, a restaurant there. Every little helps. Har HaBayït is the one place where this upside down world can be held at bay, and the proper Islamic order of things maintained: Muslims dominating.
Sheff is well aware of all this, but infuriatingly timid in his formulation. “What is the strategy of the PA?” Asks Sheff. “It is a picture of one state, essentially one Palestine ‘from the river to the sea’ which will be gained by the students through violence,” Sheff continued. “That is the strategy essentially, and you know, this is well understood by many. This is not normal. It should never be considered normal.”
With a mindset as milquetoast as this, the Palestinians will have no problem at all in keeping their show on the road. Start by appealing for empathy, then, in a plausibly deniable way, hint that you know what they’re up to. After that, appeal to their better nature, then moral-grandstand and finally, bring it all down to an opinion. The hardwiring of Palestinian children into Jew-killers is but one entry-point into an expanding and deepening matrix: an entire planet mobilised on multiple fronts for an assault on a population of 15 million people. Reason has nothing to do with this, how could it? The one consistent feature of this supposed “global outrage” has been pathos, deep, shameful pathos that here persists. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free of Jews,” and opposing them they hear, “This is not normal, you know.”
Pierre draws the following earth-shattering conclusion: “exposing Palestinian youth to violent imagery and themes has inspired real-world bloodshed.” Wow! You don’t say. A youth who attempted to murder a Jewish family in their home “attended a school that taught students to murder Israelis.” When I read things like this, I despair, not of the content, but of the writer who thinks he is saying something profound.
This year, 2023, Israel will have existed for 75 years. For the last century, Muslim Arabs in this region, as well as Muslims elsewhere, have wanted to exterminate the Jews, and have been ready to throw their weight behind any project that seemed to have a chance of accomplishing that. There have been plenty of massacres of Jews before Israeli independence. Their project is genocide. The destruction of the State of Israel is just a more polite way of saying it. The teenage schoolboy was after “Jihad and martyrdom” by ridding the world of “dangerous” and “perverted” Jews; the existence or non-existence of Israel is not part of his calculus.
A-Zeer Boys High School is far from the only place the boy will have learnt that his calling in life is to kill Jews. He will have heard it in his playground when he was little, in his religious school, at his mosque, on the street corner, on television, around his family dinner table, in fact, everywhere. And since it is possible to make a living, if not for yourself, then at least for your family, through a career in Jew-killing, why not get in early? It shows commitment. A school careers advisor might have identified the lad’s aptitude in the subject Killing Jews, while a kind uncle, might have encouraged him to develop the talent he had been blessed with, alhamdulillah.
Pierre sees it as worth pointing out that Jew-hatred in schools holds true “across the Palestinian Territories.” He clearly regards the phenomenon as a very large number of disaggregated exceptions, rather than the rule, an organic whole, and presumes the same of his readers. Pierre is very far from making the connection that an ordinary citizen of Nazi Germany could not have embarked on a career in Jew-killing straight out of high school. For that, he would have to be a Palestinian.
Pierre observes that, “Antisemitism in Palestinian curricula is well documented, widely studied, and reported on. Yet little has changed in recent years.” The obvious next question is whether the cause of there being anti-Semitism in Palestinian curricula has changed. If the cause has not changed, then why should the effect?
In April 2018, one enquiry found PA textbooks to contain,”erroneous maps of the region, as well as hate-inciting militaristic imagery and content against Jews and Israel.” Three years later, another enquiry found PA textbooks contained, “antisemitic tropes, hagiographies of terrorists, and violence against civilians.” They never ask the questions that flow from observing this persistence. How, for example, do you raise the next generation of Jew-killers, if not through filling your textbooks with erroneous maps, hate-inciting militaristic imagery and content against Jews and Israel, antisemitic tropes, hagiographies of terrorists, and violence against civilians, year after year?
It is not only the Palestinian education materials that doesn’t change, the incisiveness of the enquiries and their ability to aid understanding remain as hopeless as they have ever been. All this money is spent so they can be seen to be “doing something,” without any intention of ever doing anything at all. In the meantime, Jewish families have to fear for their lives when they go to bed at night in their own country.
The litany of reports, resolutions, and political reprimands from lawmakers have never persuaded the Palestinian Authority to reform its educational system, which is characteristic of a broader pattern of intransigence that he [Sheff] argued only a holistic reformation of Palestinian culture and politics can change.
And so goes the revolving door of enquiries and reports and enquiries and reports and… Each set of experts come, skim the surface, pontificate, go, none making the slightest effort to understand what’s really going on.
Pierre offers his readers an ever-lengthening catalogue of horrible anti-Semitic tropes, when the first five would have sufficed. We know that the Palestinians are monsters. More evidence of what we already know is not going to bring us any closer to why they are as they are and do as they do. My one problem is with the term “anti-Semitism” in the context of the Palestinians. Anti-Semitism, in this context, sounds almost innocuous, a mere matter of bad taste. At worst, we picture Jews verbally abused or cemeteries desecrated. Upon hearing “anti-Semitism,” we do not picture a generous, top-priority, integrated and well-funded state programme of Jew-killing, underpinned by a dedicated curricula, textbooks, teachers, summer camps, prizes, national recognitions and all the rest of it.
The Palestinians do not have the capacity for industrial-scale Jew-killing, but does anyone doubt that they would do it, given half a chance? The mullahs in Iran are close to being able to offer them exactly that. But why is the Iranian regime committing precious, scarce national resources to a high-tech final solution? Surely, there is no “settler-colonial apartheid state” in Iran. No one shouts, “from the (Persian) Gulf to the (Caspian) Sea, Persia will be free.” But in Iran they do shout, “Death to Israel! Death to America!” And they’re not even Arab. So what’s going on here? It must be obvious to all that this anti-Semitism is not just an Arab thing.
Qatar, hard-cash bankroller of Hamas and sponsor of Aljazeera, has, according to Pierre, “made progress” by no longer actually printing descriptions of “Jews as treacherous, immoral, and responsible for Germany’s loss in World War I” in their school textbooks. Only a complete fool would see this as any kind of progress at all. Pierre himself admits that “Some nationalist, anti-Israel themes remain, however, and the efforts of Israeli and Arab nations to normalize relations are opposed,” yet this tells him nothing. We are to understand that the Qataris are now “less anti-Semitic,” rather than that they are keeping their mouths shut about more of it. When Pierre talks about such developments as “progress”, he is actually saying that anti-Semites should be met half-way in the hope that doing so might encourage them to go all the way. Be positive. I'm afraid Israel already has more than enough of this kind of positive.
Pierre sees feel-good soap operas of all-smiles Jewish and Muslim neighbours as symbolising the new promise. It is legitimate to describe the changes in Morocco towards Israel as a positive development deserving of applause, but it is a complex relationship. Pierre does not acknowledge this complexity, let alone analyse it. It is not enough to describe changes, especially in the context of the Abraham Accords, simply as “progress”. There are overlapping complexities: firstly, sugar-sweet friendships are not real. It is like children who must never fight.
Those who look with smug satisfaction upon stories of Jews and Muslims “getting along” cannot allow such Jews and Muslims ever to risk normal human relationships. They must remain permanently nice to each other, else the whole project falls apart. A Jew and a Muslim having a fist fight over a woman, not allowed. A Jewish and a Muslim woman having a row across a garden fence, as neighbours sometimes do, not allowed. Jewish and Muslim business partners falling out, not allowed. You see where I’m going with this. Yes, it is a step in the right direction, but hold back on the smugness until they fight each other as normal human beings, not as ideologically-manipulated puppets, then celebrate.
Secondly, and the Abraham Accords are a good illustration of this, it is easy to fall for the charms of an idea. Morocco joining the Abraham Accords is a major accomplishment for Netanyahu and Trump, the spadework having been done by Kushner, Pompeo and others. At the recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the world was treated to the spectacle of an Israeli journalist trying to interview some Moroccan football fans. The moment they learnt he was Israeli, they turned around and walked off, leaving the Israeli pleading “We have peace now. Why won’t you talk to me?” or words to that effect. For the Israeli, it was a rude awakening, but those Moroccans have done him a favour. Two nations agreeing peace does not mean that from that moment forth, all their citizens are going to be lovey-dovey with one another. Had the Moroccans wanted to talk to the Israeli, they would have done so even had there been no Abraham Accords. The Israeli, however, would have attributed their amiability to the Abraham Accords. Normality, alas, is not in normalisation. Besides, there are two great no-nos in Morocco: criticising the King and criticising Islam. I shall leave it there.
Finally, Pierre informs his readers that in a 6th grade Islamic Education lesson, students are taught that women’s ultimate life goals are child bearing and jihad. Child bearing and jihad is not correct. It is child bearing for jihad. At least Pierre mentions Islam in the context of anti-Semitism. That is progress of a sort, but unfortunately, not of the sort that will help Pierre see he had just touched on exactly where the problem lies, and how his perspective can include Iran and exclude Christian and Druze Arabs. But this is getting awfully close to reality, so Pierre must drop it and run in the opposite direction.
Jihad is the permanent war that Muslims must wage against non-Muslims. So about that Islamic Education and a woman’s ultimate goal in life, let the following be known. The Nazis, too, had a special breeding programme. Their’s was to create perfect Aryan children with which to people the Third Reich. These children were meant to live and produce the next generation of Aryans. It was only towards the end of the Second World War, after the decimation of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front, that Hitler finally resorted to sending "Aryan" children into war in a desperate last throw. It pained even this monster to do such a thing even while he was still murdering children by the thousands. In other words, although Nazi women were part of a fascist breeding programme, they bore such children to perpetuate life (albeit in the midst of sowing death). The highest virtue that a Palestinian woman (and an ISIS bride) can accomplish is to bear children who will end up killing and being killed in the cause of Allah, whether they have themselves already procreated or not. The greatness of this particular Islamic virtue lies not in the killing, but in the dying while killing. “They slay and are slain in the cause of Allah.” Whereas sending "his own" children off to certain death in war was Adolf Hitler’s last resort, it is the Palestinians’ first.
Moreover, the killing of Jews was Nazi state policy, kept secret from the population at large. The gentiles may have despised and hated Jews, but personally killing Jews was not something that individual civilians of the Third Reich aspired to. The Palestinians instil this murderous dream into every child. That supporting Hitler is gross, barbaric and unconscionable goes without saying, but what are we to make of hundreds of thousands out on the streets of Western cities chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” On this scale of grotesqueness, how does officially hiding your Jew-killing from your civilian population compare to educating and paying your civilian population to kill Jews? Where, on this macabre scale, is a Palestinian textbook compared to a Jew who finds a way around a ban on PA funding, so pay-for-slay can continue? What does it say about us that we are more offended to see a Nazi flag on display, than we are to see a Palestinian one, when clearly, it should be the other way round. How did we get to the point where those who make a virtue of killing their own children are held in higher regard than those who could not bring themselves to do so?
Let me hasten to add that this is not a comparison between good and bad. It is a comparison between two degrees and qualities of barbarism. Just because the Palestinians are not materially capable of the excesses for which the Nazis stand condemned, does not mean that they are less barbaric than the Nazis. Complaining about anti-Semitism in Palestinian textbooks is like complaining about swastikas on Nazi uniforms. What could possibly be more normal?