(7 May 2021) BADIL Rejects the European Parliament’s Israeli-influenced Allegations about Palestinian Textbooks

PR/EN/070521/09

 

 

 On 29 April 2021, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution in its 2019 discharge report on European Union (EU) budget implementation that denounces Palestinian school textbooks for allegedly teaching hate speech and violence.[1] While this EP resolution adopts false Zionist-Israeli accusations, the EU ironically displays this resolution, and the false allegations within, as part of an objective, bureaucratic mechanism to ensure that its funds are invested in curricula reflecting the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and non-violence. This decontextualized conception, however, is misleading as the EP resolution is in actuality functioning as part of Israel’s colonial strategy to prohibit the Palestinian people from utilizing education as a legitimate tool of resistance.[2]

 

 

The resolution specifically asserts that the EP “is concerned about the hate speech and violence taught in Palestinian school textbooks and used in schools by UNRWA; [...] insists that [...] EU funding [...] must be made conditional on educational material and course content complying with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence and nonviolence [...].”[3] The allegations in this resolution are too familiar; similar to those raised one year earlier in the 2018 discharge report and in a 2017 EU decision to fund a study on Palestinian textbooks.[4] In fact, they have merely been recycled from IMPACT-se’s reports: a Zionist-Israeli watchdog organization that has proven its bias by manipulating content to undermine Palestinian textbooks anytime the material does not completely align with the Zionist-Israeli narrative.[5] This watchdog plays a central role in Israel’s overall strategy which selectively exploits international law to undermine Palestinian education.

 

By posing lexicon such as “hate speech” and “violence” about Palestinian educational contents, Israel actively pressures the international community to view Palestinian education only within the lens of its handpicked educational standards, such as the UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and non-violence. Reverberating this Zionist-Israeli interpretation amongst the international community influences international donors – which the Palestinian Ministry of Education is heavily dependent on – to financially pressure the Palestinian Authority to alter its curriculum in a way that aligns with the Zionist-Israeli colonial narrative and undermines the Palestinian people’s collective national identity and history.

 

Rather than reinforcing Israel’s attacks on Palestinian education, which are primarily based on a very selected interpretation of UNESCO standards and a non-colonial framework, the EP ought to reconsider its approach to Palestinian education within the specific context of Israeli colonization in Mandatory Palestine. Importantly, UNESCO grounds its mission in a much more comprehensive set of human rights instruments that are particularly relevant to the context of colonization in Mandatory Palestine. Such instruments comprise not only the 2015 Education 2030 Framework for Action and the 2015 Incheon Declaration, but also the 1974 Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Cooperation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child – all of which affirm the Palestinian people’s right to human rights education as a colonized people and would thus allow the Palestinian curriculum to include criticism of the Israeli-Zionist colonial regime.[6]

 

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[1] European Parliament, Report on Discharge in Respect of the Implementation of the General Budget of the European Union for the Financial Year 2019, Section III - Commission and Executive Agencies (2020/2140 (DEC)), A9-0117/2021, 29 April 2021, para. 444, available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-0164_EN.html

[2] See BADIL, Israel’s Apartheid-Colonial Education: Subjugating Palestinian Minds and Rights, working paper no. 26 (Bethlehem: BADIL, 2020), available at: https://www.badil.org/phocadownloadpap/badil-new/publications/research/working-papers/WP26-right2education.pdf

[3] UNRWA released a statement on 30 April 2021 rejecting these accusations. UNRWA, Statement on the latest European Parliament Resolution, Official Statements, 30 April 2021, available at: https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/official-statements/unrwa-statement-latest-european-parliament-resolution

[4] European Parliament, Report on Discharge in Respect of the Implementation of the General Budget of the European Union for the Financial Year 2018, Section III - Commission and Executive Agencies (2019/2055(DEC)), A9-0069/2020, 3 March 2020, paras. 301-302, available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-9-2020-0069_EN.pdf; “EU Funds Study into Palestinian School Textbooks After Claims of ‘Radical’ Themes,” Euronews, 22 May 2019, available at: https://www.euronews.com/2019/05/22/eu-funds-study-into-palestinian- school-textbooks-after-claims-of-radical-themes

[5] BADIL, Israel’s Apartheid-Colonial Education, in supra 2, p. 2-5.

[6] Id., p. 31-43.