According to a report from the Ma’an News Agency (a non-governmental journalism outlet in the Palestinian territories), amended textbooks for eighth through tenth grades have been released by the Hamas-run government. The books do not recognize Israel and promote militant resistance against the “Zionist” occupying force. The lessons discuss “non-negotiable Palestinian principles such as the right of return and the importance of Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.”
According to Yosef Kuperwasser, a senior Israeli official interviewed by The New York Times, “Palestinians have developed a system of deception – to English-speaking people they sell one story, and to themselves they have a different story.”
He suggests that this is part of a larger effort to ensure that the Palestinian youth continue to see Israelis as their enemies thereby ensuring fresh recruits for the militant wing of Hamas. A study, also reported by The New York Times in February, shows that then-Palestinian textbooks were less self-critical and included more negative depictions of their ethnic neighbors than Israeli textbooks. However, both described the other as an enemy.
The United Nations operates about 250 schools, comprised of students from first through ninth grade and will not use the textbooks. Conversely, Hamas runs 400 schools, including all high schools which have a new “military training elective” which trains students in resistance. A Palestinian tenth-grader is quoted by The Times saying “[s]chool textbooks were the last thing uniting us with the West Bank – now we study something different.” According to a Hamas spokesperson, the new textbooks are not going to be used in the West Bank, “leaving individual teachers to run lessons as they wish.”
Also absent from the new textbooks is any mention of the Oslo peace accords in 1993, which was the first face-to-face resolution between Israel and The Palestine Liberation Organization.