New York, NY, February 4, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today criticized as “distorted and counterproductive” a report on Palestinian and Israeli textbooks, saying that by presenting the issue as an equivalent problem for both sides, “the core issue of Palestinian rejection of Israel has been blurred.”
Prepared by an international panel of researchers under the auspices of Jerusalem-based Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, the study, titled ”Victims of Our Own Narratives?,” looked at how Israeli and Palestinian school books portray each other, the three Abrahamic faiths, and themes related to conflict and peace. The study was partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
However well-meaning the sponsors and researchers of the textbook study may have been, the paucity of historical, social and geopolitical context distort the findings and render this study counterproductive. The report presents a dangerous premise of false equivalency – that both sides have problems in not accepting the other and, in order to enhance the chances for peace, both sides have to do more to change their textbooks.
This issue was meant to deal with the basic problem that is at the core of the conflict -- Palestinian teaching of rejection of Israel and its legitimacy. By treating it as an equivalent problem for both sides, the issue has been blurred beyond distinction. It undermines the understanding of how critical this issue is -- to get the Palestinians away from their historic hatred of Israel. This still has not happened, and this study, in treating the problem as the same for both, makes it more difficult to achieve that goal.
Educating Israeli youth about the Palestinian narrative is important. But it is not the root issue for Israel. For Israelis the very fact that Arabs and Palestinians have pursued the destruction of Israel was and remains at the core of the problem. The sponsors, funders and researchers of this study should have taken this into account when they formulated their approach.