Palestinian schoolsHelsinki, October 31st, 2017 – The European Coalition for Israel has hosted a series of high level government consultations in Helsinki, Finland, to present the findings of a critical evaluation of the new Palestinian Authority (PA) curriculum which was implemented in Palestinian schools in August this year. The new curriculum is partly funded by the Finnish Foreign Ministry and has received pedagogical supervision from national experts from Finland. But according to the Israeli based research institute IMPACT-se, the new Palestinian textbooks do not prepare Palestinian children for reforms that will build a future with peace and co-existence with the Israelis but, on the contrary, stir up further radicalization and hatred.

On Thursday, the research group, represented by Marcus Sheff and Arik Agassi, had the opportunity to present their findings in the Finnish capital.

The report concludes that radicalization is pervasive throughout this new curriculum, even to a greater extent than before. The new textbooks groom young Palestinians to sacrifice themselves to martyrdom and promote hate. The textbooks are committed to jihad war and present a radical Islamist and, in part, a Salafist worldview.

“The results are shocking and disturbing”, said State Secretary Samuli Virtanen in a meeting with researchers. He promised to look into the matter and see how corrections could be made to bring the new curriculum into compliance with UNESCO standards.

“This curriculum is not only a catastrophe for the Palestinian youth and the future of the peace process, but also for the reputation of the Finnish education system, as the curriculum has been renewed under the clear supervision of Finnish experts and officials”, commented ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell at the meeting.

IMPACT-se has studied how textbooks in several countries comply with UNESCO standards and has now concluded that the new Palestinian curriculum is missing essential values and principles such as peace, tolerance and mutual respect, while promoting martyrdom, sacrifice and war.

At the meetings Marcus Sheff pointed out that the new Palestinian curriculum does not even support the prospect of a two-state solution, which under the Oslo Accords was a pre-condition for creating the Palestinian Authority and a Palestinian Ministry for Education.

Also during the consultations, concrete examples on how radicalization and martyrdom are underpinning the new curriculum were presented.
In a mathematics book for children in elementary schools, addition is taught by the following example: “If the number of martyrs from the first intifada is X and the number of martyrs from the second intifada is Y, what is the total number of martyrs in both the first and the second intifada?”
In a basic physics course, Newton’s law of gravity is explained by the firing of a slingshot, and is illustrated by a picture of a young Palestinian aiming a slingshot at an Israeli officer.

School textbooks are the key to the future as they represent the values of the official government. Today many countries in the Arab world are trying to adapt their curriculums to a more pluralistic society, whereas other governments promote radicalization. “Sadly, the Palestinian Authority is moving in the wrong direction”, Marcus Sheff concluded.

Member of Finnish Parliament Peter Östman demanded a swift change, saying that “as co-financers and pedagogical supervisors of this process, the government of Finland needs to promote progress and moderation in the Middle East and not allow further radicalization”.

The European Coalition for Israel has been raising the issue of the Palestinian text books for several years, both at a national level and a European Union level. ECI will continue to monitor the situation both in Helsinki and Brussels as the Finnish and the Belgian governments are co-chairing the EU-coordination group which is responsible for funding and supervising the Palestinian Authority on matters concerning education.