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Education Ministry revokes licenses of six East Jerusalem schools citing incitement against Israel

One textbook calls Israel “the greatest racist disaster that hit the Palestinian people” and says “the occupation continues its racist measures throughout Palestine”

Minister of Education Yifat Shasha-Biton attends a press conference in Tel Aviv, May 9, 2022. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Israel has revoked the licenses of six East Jerusalem schools as a result of their incitement against Israel and the Israeli army, as well as presenting conspiracy theories.

The schools will be allowed to operate for one year under a conditional license during which time they must make corrections to their curriculum or lose their license permanently.

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton made the announcement on Thursday. The Education Ministry said in a statement that the schools were found to be using textbooks that glorify prisoners and their “armed struggle against the State of Israel.” 

The textbooks also contained conspiracy theories about Israel withholding treatment from patients and causing intentional harm to medical staff, as well as accusations of Israel being responsible for the water shortage in the Palestinian Authority. The textbooks also contain claims of killings, deportations and massacres perpetrated by the IDF, according to a statement made by the Education Ministry. 

This content has been deemed as incitement against the State of Israel and against the IDF.

The schools included are Ibrahimieh College, the Al-Eman elementary schools for boys and girls and the Al-Eman secondary schools for boys and girls. The directors of these schools were summoned to a hearing regarding the material in question. The schools together have about 2,000 students.

“Incitement against the State of Israel and IDF soldiers in children's school textbooks is an intolerable phenomenon that will be dealt with severely,” Shasha-Biton said. 

In one third grade “Citizenship and Social Studies” textbook, a story describes third graders visiting their friend Nidal, whose father was arrested the night before. Nidal tells them how “we were surprised last night after the Zionist occupation soldiers invaded our apartment and arrested my father, which made me tired and worried.” His mother explains to them how Palestinian prisoners fight for “our Palestinian people and oppose the Zionist occupation. They became prisoners in their prisons and we wish them freedom soon with God's help like we wish for the end of the occupation.”

The textbook also states that “some of the medics are exposed to attacks, injuries and even killed.” This, the textbook says, is a violation of human rights. 

Another textbook, “Science and Life,” for fifth graders, says that Palestinian water reservoirs suffer every year from shortages due to “the shadow of the occupation's control over most of the water sources in Palestine.”

A ninth grade social studies text refers to the 1948 War of Independence as being “the greatest racist disaster that hit the Palestinian people,” stating that “armed Zionist gangs occupied 77% of Palestine and carried out a massacre against the Palestinians, destroyed 531 Palestinian villages and caused the migration of a million Palestinians to places of refugees in what was left of Palestine.”

The book adds that “the occupation continues its racist measures throughout Palestine: killing, deportation, arrests, military massacres, electronic gates, destruction of houses, construction of Zionist settlements and a fence.”

According to Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, almost 90% of the children in East Jerusalem are learning from the same school texts that are used in Gaza.

“For years I have been lobbying the government of Israel and foreign countries to make educational funding in East Jerusalem conditional on the reform of the school books to remove hatred and incitement,” she said. “I am happy that today the Israeli government has taken its first step to solve a problem that literally causes injury and loss of life.”

Earlier this month an East Jerusalem school drew attention after video footage was released showing students in a school play dressed up as gunmen pointing their weapons at other students dressed as religious Jews, kneeling and blindfolded. 

Shasha-Biton said in her statement that any educational institution that was found to be inciting hatred against the State of Israel would have its license revoked which results in removing both accreditation and funding.  

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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