- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2013

A new study reports that textbooks in both Israeli and Palestinian schools are politically biased, depicting each other as enemies and providing only one-sided narratives.

Israeli, Palestinian and American academics who conducted the study said it set a new standard for objective textbook analysis, the Associated Press reports.

The $500,000 U.S.-funded study, presented at a news conference Monday, said the books of both sides are biased but still typical of societies in conflict.

“The schoolbooks offer narratives to motivate members of society to be part of the conflict,” Daniel Bar-Tal of Israel’s Tel Aviv University, one of the lead researchers, told the news conference. “In conflict societies, people not only shoot at each other, but struggle for the narrative, the image of the other and of themselves.”

The study analyzed 74 Israeli and 94 Palestinian books, covering first through 12th grades and teaching social sciences, geography, literature, religion, Arabic and Hebrew, the AP reports.

The most biased subject, however, appeared to be geography, with a vast majority of maps in Israeli and Palestinian textbooks either totally omitting the other side or showing interim borders without naming the other side, Reuters reports.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in a statement that he “welcomed” the results and that the study’s results “absolved Palestinian textbooks of the flagrant accusation that they incite hatred toward the other.”