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In Israeli, Palestinian textbooks, there’s seldom two sides to story
Question of the Day
The study found that as part of the selective narratives, Israeli and Palestinian books tend to describe negative actions of the other against the own community, while portraying the own community in positive terms.
Books often lacked information about the religion, culture, economy and daily life of the other side. The lack, the study said, “serves to deny the legitimate presence of the other.”
Study coordinator Bruce Wexler, a Yale psychiatry professor, said at a news conference Monday that the main appeal to both sides is to “put in some more information that will humanize” the other.
The other two lead scholars in the study were Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University and Sami Adwan of Bethlehem University.
The failure to recognize the other side is particularly apparent in maps of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, where the Palestinians hope to establish their state alongside Israel.
The Palestinians want to form that state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967. For now, they have limited autonomy in 38 percent of the West Bank.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, a move not recognized by most of the world, and withdrew in 2005 from Gaza, now controlled by the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
Israel was only shown in three of 83 post-1967 maps in Palestinian books, the study said.
Of 330 post-1967 maps in Israeli books, 258 included the area between the Jordan River and the sea. Of those, 196 maps, or 76 percent, did not indicate any borders between Israel and the occupied lands.
Of the 62 maps that included a demarcation, 33 showed which areas are under Palestinian self-rule, while 29 maps showed borders with color lines, but do not refer to a Palestinian presence.
Historical events, while not fabricated, are presented selectively to present the own community’s national narrative, the study said.
Yossi Kuperwasser, a senior Israeli official who monitors Palestinian statements and actions for the government’s “incitement index,” rejected the study’s conclusions.
“Our curriculum calls for peace and states why peace is good, and there [in Palestinian schools], it is just the opposite,” he said. “Incitement to violence, to hatred, is the main obstacle to peace, and this has to change if we really are to have peace.”
Mr. Fayyad said he has asked the Palestinian Education Ministry to keep the study’s criticism of Palestinian texts in mind when developing the next crop of books.
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