Ahead of Yair Lapid’s EU visit: “The mood on our side is very positive”, says senior EU official


Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi (Photo) said the European Union should consider making PA funding conditional on removing anti-Semitism and incitement to violence from its textbooks, written Yossi Lempkowicz.

Varhelyi’s statement follows the release last Friday of a long-awaited EU-commissioned report on Palestinian textbooks that show cases of anti-Semitism and incitement to violence. The study, completed in February, includes dozens of examples of encouraging violence and demonization of Israel and Jews.

The EU commissioned the report in 2019 from the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research and kept it secret for four months after its completion. The EU directly funds the salaries of teachers and textbook writers, who encourage and glorify violence against Israelis and Jews, according to the report.

The report is nearly 200 pages long and examines 156 textbooks and 16 educational guides. The texts mostly date from 2017-2019, but 18 date from 2020.

European Enlargement Commissioner Varhelyi, whose portfolio covers all help provided to the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA by the EU, whose department originally commissioned the independent review, tweeted: “Strong commitment to combat anti-Semitism and engage with the Palestinian Authority and the ‘UNRWA to promote quality education for Palestinian children and ensure full respect for UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence, non-violence in Palestinian textbooks.

He added that “the conditionality of our financial aid in the education sector must be duly taken into account”, implying that the EU could make its continued funding of the Palestinian education sector conditional on the abolition anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in textbooks.

The Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schnias, who has the fight against anti-Semitism in her portfolio, also commented on the publication of the report, saying: “Hate and anti-Semitism have no place in theaters. class or elsewhere. Peace, tolerance and non-violence must be fully respected; they are not negotiable.

Last week, a multi-stakeholder group of 22 MEPs sent a letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, demanding that aid to the PA be suspended to “preach anti-Semitism, incitement and glorification of violence and terrorism … violating the fundamental values ​​of the ‘EU and our stated aim to help advance peace and the two-state solution.

The signatories included high-ranking parliamentarians in the European Parliament’s budget-related committees, such as Monika Hohlmeier, chair of the Committee on Budgetary Control and Niclas Herbst, vice-chair of the Committee on Budgetary Affairs, who said that “the secrecy of the European Commission is counterproductive and incomprehensible. He also called for a 5% reserve on EU funding to the PA and UNRWA, saying that funds withheld should be redirected to NGOs that adhere to UNESCO standards until that the PA removes all hatred and incitement from its textbooks.
We are extremely grateful to Commissioner Varhelyi for his integrity. Ultimately, his department supports the Palestinian Authority’s education system and commissioned the Palestinian Textbook Report. We congratulate him on his leadership, for cutting the noise around this report and making it clear that the EU cannot be a party to funding hate education, ” said Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT- se, a research and policy institute. who monitors and analyzes education in the world, who independently assessed the EU report.

“The Palestinian Authority must ensure high standards in promoting a culture of peace and coexistence”

Asked by European Jewish Press about the conditionality of EU financial assistance to changes in the Palestinian education sector, EU spokeswoman Ana Pisonero told the Commission briefing at noon: “ Let’s be clear, the EU does not fund Palestinian textbooks. Nonetheless, the EU funded an independent study of Palestinian textbooks against defined international criteria based on UNESCO standards on education for peace, tolerance and non-violence. The aim of the study was to provide the EU with a critical, comprehensive and objective basis for political dialogue with the Palestinian Authority in the education sector and to promote quality education services, including the incitement allegations. ”

She added: ” Regarding the findings of the study, the analysis revealed a complex picture. The textbooks broadly adhere to UNESCO standards and adopt criteria that predominate in international discourse on education, including a strong emphasis on human rights. They express a narrative of resistance in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and they display antagonism towards Israel. ”

The EU spokesperson also said that “the EU remains committed to supporting the Palestinian Authority in building the institutions of a future independent democratic and viable state that respects human rights and lives alongside of Israel in peace and security. This is the long-standing position of the EU. the promotion of high quality education is particularly important in this context. The Palestinian Authority must ensure high standards by fostering a culture of peace and coexistence, paving the way for a future where the conflict can be resolved through negotiations leading to a two-state solution. ”

“We reiterate our unique commitment to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority to promote the full compliance of its educational materials with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence and non-violence,” he said. She said, adding that the EU “ will intensify its engagement with the Palestinian Authority on the basis of the study with the aim of ensuring that further curriculum reform addresses problematic issues as soon as possible and that the Palestinian Authority take responsibility for scrutinizing textbooks not analyzed in the study. We have agreed to work with the Palestinian Authority to establish a specific roadmap for this work which must include a comprehensive system of political dialogue, continued engagement and incentives for the express purpose of promoting, monitoring and facilitating change. . ” ” This roadmap should also establish an objective and credible process for the selection and monitoring of educational material for which the PA will be fully responsible and will be consistent with UNESCO standards. ”

The EU spokesperson ended her lengthy response by stating that the European Union “has absolutely no tolerance for incitement to hatred and violence as a means of achieving political goals, and the anti-Semitism in all its forms. These principles are not negotiable for this Commission. ”

In a statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said: “The fact that EU aid to the Palestinian Authority’s education system is used to produce anti-Semitic propaganda material that encourages hatred, violence and terrorism, instead of promoting a peaceful solution to the conflict, undermines the prospect of coexistence and the establishment of encouraging good neighborly relations. ”

The European Commission must take the report seriously and take practical steps to stop European aid until the problems with the report are rectified, he said, adding that the EU can monitor near the destination of its funding, ” he added.

Dozens of examples of incitement to violence in textbooks

The report includes dozens of examples of encouragement of violence and the demonization of Israel and the Jews.

The textbooks present “ambivalent – sometimes hostile – attitudes towards Jews and the characteristics they attribute to the Jewish people… The frequent use of negative attributions to the Jewish people… suggest a conscious perpetuation of anti-Jewish prejudices, in particular. especially when they are rooted in the current political context.

An exercise in a religious studies textbook asks students to discuss the “repeated attempts by the Jews to kill the Prophet” Muhammad and asks who “the other enemies of Islam” are.

“It is not so much the sufferings of the Prophet or the actions of the companions that seem to be at the center of this teaching unit but, rather, the alleged perniciousness of the Jews,” the report says.

The report identifies “the creation of a link between the declared deception of the ‘Jews’ in the early days of Islam and the implied behavior of the Jews today,” calling it “extremely escalating.”

A textbook links Muhammad’s aunt, who clubbed a Jew to death, to a question about the steadfastness of Palestinian women in the face of “the Zionist Jewish occupation.”

A handbook promotes a conspiracy theory according to which Israel removed the original stones from the ancient sites of Jerusalem and replaced them with stones bearing “Zionist designs and shapes.”

The concept of “resistance” is a recurring theme in the textbooks studied, as well as calls for the liberation of the Palestinians by a revolution. To clarify the concept, a manual contains a photo with the caption “Palestinian Revolutionaries,” depicting five masked men carrying machine guns.

The glorification and praise of the terrorists who attacked the Israelis can be found not only in history or social studies books, but also in science and math books, such as the one that mentions a school named after the “shahid” (martyr) Abu Jihad, a leader of the First Intifada.

The report also confirms the removal of all peace accord summits and proposals that were previously included in the Palestinian curriculum after the Oslo accords have been removed, including “the omission of the passage that talks about starting a new era of peaceful coexistence without violence reflects the current situation between the two parties, which does not provide a roadmap towards non-violence and peace acceptable to all parties involved.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Shtayyeh replied report, dismissing its findings and stating that Palestinian textbooks faithfully reflect Palestinian national aspirations and cannot be judged by European standards.

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