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EMET has long argued that the best litmus test for whether or not a nation is ready for peace is to examine how they educate the next generation. Education can be used as a tool for liberalization, for tolerance, for openness to “the other, and for planting the seeds of democracy and human rights. Or it can be used to indoctrinate children towards hatred of “the other” and towards extremism and violence.
IMPACT-se has just released its 2022 annual update on Saudi textbooks, depicting an overall trend of improvement following major reforms since 2020. Whereas only a decade ago, focus was put on encouraging students to prepare for jihad and martyrdom, the majority of references to violent jihad justifying and praising violence and murder on behalf of the Prophet Muhammad have now been removed from the textbooks. While some problematic content, such as negative depictions of Jews, Zionism and Christians, remains or has even been made worse, others, particularly instances of the kind of antisemitism based on modern European tropes, have largely been removed.
IMPACT-se has also released an extensive review of the Palestinian curriculum used in our UNRWA schools. This report analyzed textbooks and new “study cards” produced by the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the 2021–22 school year, which are used in the curricula of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and UNRWA schools, and includes selected examples from several hundred pages of educational content. Contrary to the assurances made by the PA to its international partners that improvements would be made rapidly to improve the 2020–21 curriculum, IMPACT-se found that there were no revisions to the PA curriculum for the current 2021–22 school year. In addition to the lack of PA-assured textbook revisions, research on the supplemental online learning materials called study cards found that the PA Ministry of Education published the same or worse content in violation of international standards of peace, tolerance and non-violence in education.
About the speaker: Marcus Sheff was a political reporter at The Nation, an editor at The Jerusalem Post, and a foreign correspondent before heading The Word Shop, a strategic communications firm, for a decade. He worked for Dow Jones International and Advanstar Inc. and was CEO at Intermedia, an international business development firm, before becoming Executive Director at The Israel Project. He has for two decades been involved in in global healthcare, briefed world leaders, spoken at the United Nations and parliaments, and appears regularly on media. He studied political science and international relations at Leeds University where he was an elected leader of the student union, and international relations at Tel Aviv University.