Thursday, 31 October 2013
This is a guest post by Mehrdad Amanpour(Harry 's Place)
Let’s turn the clock back 20 years and imagine that South Africa still has an Apartheid government. Now imagine that in Europe, we have a sizable Afrikaner community and that a significant number of people within that community openly support Apartheid. Would it be fair to describe those people as extremists?
Indeed, given that mainstream consensus accepts overwhelmingly that Apartheid is an extreme ideology, would there be any repercussions in Europe, legal or otherwise, if one were to describe such people as ‘bigots’, ‘racist scum’ or worse?
Now let’s go further and imagine that a proportion of the Apartheid-supporters not only believes in racial segregation, but also believes that the punishment for miscegenation ought to be death by say, lynching.
However, let’s assume that the pro-lynching Afrikaners are mostly law-abiding and that their support for lynching is based upon sincerely held religious beliefs – after all, some in the Dutch Reformed Church once believed that black Africans belonged to a lower race than whites and that black skin was the ‘mark of Cain’.
Let’s also assume that their religious leaders assert that their religion commands them to obey the laws of the countries in which they live and that that any support for lynching applies only in an ‘ideal Apartheid state’?
Does being law-abiding and supporting something abhorrent, but only in an ‘ideal’ state make an individual ‘moderate’ by default? Does it confer on that personfa the automatic right to be tolerated, respected and defended from hostility?
Is it conceivable that a religious or community leader would be allowed to advocate lynching, even in an ‘ideal’ world, in a church, community centre or student meeting, without being prosecuted for hate crime and harassed mercilessly by anti-fascists?
Could someone ever say such a thing on BBC radio without being pilloried by the interviewer and generating a massive, public outcry?
When I was a child, my relatives would tell me that the hadud punishments of stoning, beheading and limb amputation weren’t part of modern Islam – such practices belonged to another time, in the same way that burning witches in Europe belonged to another time. I was told that the only Muslims that supported such practices were ‘backward’ and the only places that practiced them were ‘barbaric’ – in time ‘education’ would enlighten these simple folk and drag them into modernity.
Yet I’ve grown up and seen the opposite happen.
These days, one can happily believe and even state publicly that the death penalty should apply to anyone who has sex outside of marriage, takes part in a homosexual act, insults the Prophet or leaves Islam without being ‘extreme’.
As long as one says “in an ideal Islamic society”.
HP ran a piece about Abdul Qadeer Baksh, Chairman of the Islamic Centre in Luton. Baksh asserted on BBC 3 Counties Radio that every moderate Muslimbelieves that gays would be executed in an ideal Islamic state. Whilst the presenter, Olly Mann did challenge him on this, I couldn’t help but feel irritated by Mann’s lack of outrage – the challenge was far too polite almost to the point of being deferential – “Er, I do accept that you said in an ‘ideal’ Islamic state”.
How does ‘ideal’ make any material difference to the hatefulness of what was being said?
Forgive the ugliness of my anology, but imagine that one of our fictional Afrikaners had said, “Blacks would be executed for miscegenation in an ideal Apartheid state”. Would Mann have been so circumspect in displaying his disgust and outrage at such a statement?
On Question Time, Nick Griffin infamously said: “I shared a platform with David Duke, who was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan, a totally non-violent one by the way”.
How we all laughed – who couldn’t see the absurdity of Griffin’s caveat?
Which is why it is so hard for me to bear the inability of so many Europeans to see and react appropriately to the unacceptable extremism that has become mainstream in Muslim society.
Whilst Griffin’s equivocations are picked up immediately, Muslim spokesmen get away with weasel words all of the time. The general pattern goes like this:
“Doing / supporting [insert abhorrent view] is un-Islamic. This is Britain. Islam commands British Muslims living in Britain to obey British law.”
The caveats are “Britain” and “British”. Listen for them then despair as I do at the interviewer, who’ll either not notice and certainly won’t ask: “Hold on, why are you using caveats? Do you think it’s okay to non-British Muslims to [insert abhorrent view] outside of Britain or in an ideal Islamic society?”
The bitter irony is that as vile as Griffin, Duke and their respective groups are, I doubt that hardly anyone belonging to the BNP or KKK actually advocates the execution of non-whites – even in a twisted ‘ideal’ world. What’s more, even if they did, it would be inconceivable that they would ever get away with saying such a thing in public without suffering very serious legal consequences and attracting massive negative publicity.
So why is it so much less despicable for a Muslim spokesman to say that gays ought to be killed on BBC radio? Is the life of a gay man really of lesser value than that of a black man?
What ever happened to rationality?
As HP exposes all-too-frequently, throughout Europe, in mosques, Islamic centres and student Islamic societies, there are Muslims who have no qualms about stating openly their support for the type of ‘ideal Islamic state’ that Baksh hopes for.
They do it secure in the knowledge that bien pensants will politely put their fingers in their ears and face the other way, whilst at the same time foolish organisations such as Hope Not Hate (HnH) and the rather more sinister Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and militant Antifa organisations in Europe will attack mercilessly anyone who is too vocal in criticising the persons or groups who hold and promote such horrific world-views.
In a rational world, Baksh would now be a social pariah and facing prosecution for hate-crime whilst being hounded unrelentingly by anti-fascist activists.
But in reality, he’ll remain lionized as a ‘community leader’, no doubt feted by Luton’s great and good – the local council, ‘community’ police quango, media and political class.
What’s more, can there be any doubt that he’ll be welcomed with open arms at any UAF meeting he chooses to attend? Indeed it seems he’d find himself among like-minded people.
If one were to ask a member of this ‘great and good’ to describe what they imagine a ‘moderate’ Muslim believes, then they’d probably prefer to describe the views of someone like me rather than the views of someone like Baksh.
But if you asked the same person to engage with a Muslim ‘representative’, they’d go for someone like Baksh every time. And there’s the contradiction – even though it’s convenient to pretend one thing in public, the media and the political class know deep down that people like me no longer represent the views of British Muslims.
I believe that hadud punishments are wrong – killing or maiming a human being is never justifiable. I support free speech, even if it is critical of the Prophet or challenges the beliefs of some Muslims. I believe that adults must be free to have consensual sex in private with whomever they wish. I believe that a Muslim must be free to leave Islam. Crucially, I believe that these rights must apply here, everywhere, today and forever. And I believe that any such ‘crimes’, if they are even crimes, are for Allah alone to judge.
Whilst I’m not alone as a Muslim in holding such beliefs, people like me are very much on our own. We face overwhelming hostility from the ‘vast majority of moderate Muslims’. We’re accused of causing fitnah and of being murtad – apostates, and as such we too warrant the death penalty alongside homosexuals in Baksh’s ideal Islamic state.
It’s ironic that in modern Britain, it is far, far more dangerous for me to statemy beliefs in public in than it is for Baksh to state his.
What chance do people like me have when the ‘great and good’, the liberal media and the ‘anti-fascist’ organisations that ought to be supporting and defending us, instead support and defend those who believe we should die? In an ‘ideal’ world.
The gutless media. The unprincipled trade unions, universities and student unions that turn a blind eye to the wickedness being promoted in their midst. The hypocritical ‘anti-fascist’ organisations that enable and defend hate. Most of all, the lickspittle political class. Shame on them all.
‘Extreme’ has quietly become ‘moderate’ whilst Europeans have been too polite, too unprincipled or too cowardly to object.
There are those who say, “Islam needs a ‘Reformation”. To them I say “Look around you – the Reformation has already taken place”.
Ali Eteraz wrote an insightful and depressing piece on this:
“According to 18th century records, the Ottoman Empire – Islam’s ruling power – had not flogged, imprisoned, or passed the death sentence on adulterers for nearly 400 years. The traditionalist Ottoman jurists had relied on the Quran’s “four witnesses” rule, which had made proving adultery virtually impossible.
Along came a self-professed Islamic reformer named Abdul Wahhab. … Wahhab said that procuring a confession was enough to stone someone to death and proceeded to do so.”
During the past two decades, the Saudis have spent at least $87 billion propagating Wahhabism abroad.
At the same time, competing fundamentalist Shia and Sunni movements have been promoted aggressively throughout Europe, with massive funding from countries such as Iran and Qatar.
Moderate Islam is as good as dead. It didn’t stand a chance.
Throughout Europe today, someone can advocate a Utopia in which gays and apostates are killed and nevertheless expect to be considered a ‘moderate’, fully entitled to and deserving of tolerance and respect. They can even call themselves an ‘anti-fascist’.
As long as that Utopia is “an ideal Islamic society”.
I’ll end with this meeting in Norway, of moderate Muslims who make my point better than I ever could.
The Al Arabiya network reported Thursday that Israel has carried out two strikes in Syria, in order to prevent trucks from carrying weapons to Hizbullah . The attacks reportedly took place near Damascus and in the northern Latakiya region. At least one of the attacks took place on between Wednesday and Thursday.
The report said that the trucks were carrying SAM-8 missiles. Jerusalem refused to comment on the report.
Sources among Syria's rebel organizations said earlier that an explosion took place near a Syrian military base in the Latakiya province. Initial reports did not say who was behind the explosion.
The BBC also said that “a large explosion at a Syrian army base has been reported outside the coastal city of Latakia” and that Israel is believed to have targeted the same base in July.
Al Arabiya said that its report was based on a rebel source as well as a source that is considered close to the Syrian regime. The latter source said that a base near Sanubar, on the coast to the south of Latakiya, was hit by a missile fired from the sea. A Lebanese news agency reported that six Israeli warplanes had entered the country's northern airspace, along the border with Syria.
Australian media reported Thursday morning from sources connected to the Syrian rebels that the base was completely destroyed. Several sources said the attack had come from the direction of Sea. The base is reportedly an aerial defense base.
Lebanese media reported earlier that IAF combat jets and helicopters were flying over Aita a-Shaab, Bint Jbeil and Marj Ayoun in southern . The Lebanese military also said that IAF planes had entered Lebanon's airspace.
British councillors have taken part in the first of a series of Israel tours aimed at giving local authority representatives an insight into the country’s political system.
Organised by the We Believe Israel advocacy group, and Labour Friends of Israel, last week’s trip saw six councillors from around England meet officials and counterparts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The nine-strong delegation — including councillors from Liverpool City Council, Merton Council and Waltham Forest Council — was led by We Believe’s Luke Akehurst and LFI’s Ben Garratt.
It is hoped that the trips will provide local politicians who could face anti-Israel motions or boycott proposals with in-depth knowledge of the situation on-the-ground in the country.
Mr Akehurst said participants had part-funded their own trips, indicating their dedication.
“We know there’s a market out there of people who are very keen to go to Israel and have a political educational experience,” he said.
“The feedback has been fantastic. People found it very informative. They made a big commitment to come and we are broadening our network.”
The delegation also visited Ramallah and the new Palestinian city of Rawabi, as well as the Lebanese border and the Golan Heights, where they received an IDF briefing on Israel’s security situation.
Participants also took part in a party marking Jerusalem’s municipal elections.
The tour was the first visit to Israel for Orthodox Jewish Liverpool councillor Jeremy Wolfson.
Four members of the Behar family and Jewish National Fund emissary Shlomo Ben-Haim were injured when a group of eight males allegedly assaulted them after they were returning home from a Jewish Sabbath dinner last Friday.
VICTIM OF THE ATTACK: The group released a statement saying they don't want to "hide or feel threatened".
The victims suffered injuries including a fractured cheekbone, broken nose, concussion, lacerations and bruising after being attacked while walking along Blair Steet.
Despite the attacks, 66 year-old victim Eli Behar told the Australian Jewish News he will not respond by concealing "his Jewishness."
“I am not going to take off my kippah [skull-cap]," he told the newspaper. “I don't want to go and hide or feel threatened or scared of being Jewish in Sydney.”
The attack left Behar unconscious with serious head injuries, his son Shlomo Behar with a broken finger and stitches to his head and his son-in-law Zeev Aronstam with a broken nose, the Australian Jewish News reported. Ben-Haim suffered a broken nose and an injury to his eye.
They were all treated at St Vincent's Hospital.
Behar's wife, Lea, who was also injured, said: “I don't want to change my life and I don't want people to change their lives...There are different minorities and everyone is allowed to live the way they want. We should not have any abuse or hatred towards one another."
On Monday, the victims called for "justice, education and tolerance."
"People should be free to walk the streets in safety, without fear of being attacked because of the colour of their skin or the race to which they belong," they said in a joint statement.
Two minors, both 17, were arrested and charged with affray and breach of bail.
A 23-year-old man was charged with affray and granted bail to appear at Waverley Local Court on December 3.
On Monday, Fairfax Media reported that both teenage boys broke court-ordered curfews over another alleged assault.
One boy was ordered to be home between 8pm and 6am, and the other had a 9pm-6am curfew, as part of bail conditions imposed for an alleged attack on a police officer.
On Monday, police renewed their appeal for information and urged witnesses to come forward.
“Although three males have already been charged over this incident we believe that there are other offenders still to be identified and spoken to,” Acting Superintendent Paul Pisanos said.
By Tony Paterson, independant
“Gestapo Müller” was Adolf Eichmann’s commanding officer and one of the chief architects of the Holocaust. But his fate had baffled Nazi hunters for 68 years.
He was last seen in Hitler’s bunker the day after the Nazi leader’s suicide. In 1949, the post-war German intelligence service reported a sighting of him in Czechoslovakia.
But Germany’s Bild newspaper quoted a leading historian of the Nazi era, Professor Johannes Tuchel, who said: “Müller never survived the war. His body was buried in 1945 in a mass grave in the Jewish cemetery in Berlin.”
Professor Tuchel, the director of Berlin’s German Resistance Memorial, said he had documentary evidence indicating that Müller was first buried near an airport in Berlin but later moved to the city’s Jewish cemetery.
He said a local registrar had certified that “a body in a general’s uniform with Müller’s identification documents,” was buried there.
The President of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, said he was shocked at the news. “That one of the most brutal Nazi sadists is buried in a Jewish cemetery, of all places, is a tasteless monstrosity,” he said.
A leading property journalist has defended remarks made during a Twitter row in which she admitted being prejudiced towards Jews.
Mira Bar-Hillel, the property and planning correspondent at London’s Evening Standard newspaper, said she believed attacks on her were being co-ordinated by “agents of Israel” and the Jewish community in response to her criticisms of the Israeli government.
Ms Bar-Hillel, who is Jewish, said: “I now feel for the soul of the state of Israel and its physical future. It is destroying itself from the inside.”
She was engaged in a row on the social networking site last week with Avi Mayer, director of new media at the Jewish Agency, after discussing Israeli settlements and non-Jewish Israelis.
Ms Bar-Hillel attacked Mr Mayer and European Jewish Parliament member Tal Ofer, who had also tweeted about her comments.
A complaint was lodged with both the police and the Evening Standard, following one tweet from Ms Bar-Hillel to Mr Mayer in which she said she was “prejudiced against Jews like you – and Tal – who are prejudiced against non-Jews”.
The newspaper dismissed suggestions the journalist had breached its code of practice and said her remarks were “personal opinions which are unconnected to her work”.
Ms Bar-Hillel, who was born in Jerusalem and served as a folk singer in the IDF, claimed she was the victim of a trolling campaign. “You cannot criticise anything to do with Israel or Jews. You start by criticising Israeli government policy and then you get attacked by Jews,” she said.
“I’m prejudiced against Jews who criticise me. Their religion has everything to do with it. I’m reporting something that’s horribly wrong with the policies of Israel and they attack me. In my long career no other group has acted in this way.
“When I’m being attacked I feel I’m being attacked by communal action. That community view is very dangerous. It is intimidation. The best way to respond to these things is to simply ignore them. It starts to be like a gang-bang.”
Mr Ofer said he was “astonished and saddened” by Ms Bar-Hillel’s comments.
He said: “As a member of European Jewish Parliament I am regularly fighting antisemitism in social media and in public, and I’m attacked by different individuals.
Now a journalist, who also happens to be a member of our Jewish community, declares openly she is ‘prejudiced against Jews’ and makes a racist slur against me for no reason.”
Mr Mayer said his tweets were in a personal capacity and did not represent the Jewish Agency.
He added: “Although I often encounter individuals with extreme views on social networks, the viciousness of Ms Bar-Hillel’s comments pushed me to figure out why she might be pursuing contact with me. I became aware of her noxious views regarding Jews, which ought to cause revulsion in all people of conscience and basic decency.”
New York, NY, March 20, 2012 … Anti-Semitic attitudes in ten European countries remain at "disturbingly high levels," according to a new poll from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released today, with large swaths of the population subscribing to classical anti-Semitic notions such as Jews having too much power in business, being more loyal to Israel than their own country, or "talking too much" about what happened during the Holocaust.
Attitudes Toward Jews in Ten European Countries (PDF), an ADL opinion survey of 5,000 adults – 500 in each of ten European countries – revealed that pernicious anti-Semitic beliefs continue to be held by nearly one-third of those surveyed.
The poll was conducted between Jan. 2-31, 2012 in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. The survey has a margin of error of between +/- 4.43 and +/- 4.85, depending on the specific country.
"The survey is disturbing by the fact that anti-Semitism remains at high levels across the continent and infects many Europeans at a much higher level than we see here in the United States," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "In Hungary, Spain and Poland the numbers for anti-Semitic attitudes are literally off-the-charts and demand a serious response from political, civic and religious leaders."
In France, where a shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse yesterday claimed the lives of three small children and a teacher, the overall level of anti-Semitism increased to 24 percent of the population, an increase from 20 percent in a previous ADL poll conducted in 2009. In France, 45 percent of respondents attributed the violence against European Jews to anti-Jewish feelings, an increase from 39 percent in 2009.
Other findings for France include: 45 percent of the population responded "probably true" to the statement "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country; 35 percent agreed that "Jews have too much power in the business world; and 35 percent believe that "Jews still talk too much about what happened to them during the Holocaust.
When asked for their opinion about anti-Semitic violence directed against Jews, and whether that violence is the result of anti-Jewish feelings as opposed to anti-Israel sentiment, overall, 39 percent of Europeans responded that it was the result of anti-Jewish sentiments. "In France, you have a volatile mix," Mr. Foxman said. "France has seen an increase in the level of anti-Semitism. At the same time, more people today believe that violence directed against European Jews is fueled by anti-Jewish attitudes as opposed to anti-Israel sentiment. "Those increases are all the more disturbing in light of the shooting attack at the Jewish school in Toulouse."
In comparison with a similar ADL poll conducted in 2009, several of the countries showed dangerously high levels in the overall level of anti-Semitism, while other countries experienced more modest increases.
The overall findings among the countries for which comparison data is available:
- Austria experienced a slight decrease, to 28 percent from 30 percent in 2009.
- France: The overall level of anti-Semitism increased to 24 percent of the population, up from to 20 percent in 2009.
- Germany: Anti-Semitism increased by one percentage point, to 21 percent of the population.
- Hungary: The level rose to 63 percent of the population, compared with 47 percent in 2009;
- Poland: The number remained unchanged, with 48 percent of the population showing deep-seated anti-Semitic attitudes.
- Spain: Fifty-three percent (53%) percent of the population, compared to 48 percent in 2009.
- United Kingdom: Anti-Semitic attitudes jumped to 17 percent of the population, compared to 10 percent in 2009.
COUNTRY-BY-COUNTRY FINDINGS ON ANTI-SEMITIC ATTITUDES
In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews are more loyal to Israel" than their own country, the 2012 survey found:
- Austria – 47%, unchanged from 2009
- France – 45%, up from 38% in 2009
- Germany – 52%, down from 53% in 2009
- Hungary – 55%, up from 40% in 2009
- Italy – 61% in 2012
- Netherlands – 47% in 2012
- Norway – 58% in 2012
- Poland – 61%, down from 63% in 2009
- Spain – 72%, up from 64% in 2009
- The United Kingdom – 48%, up from 37% in 2009
In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews have too much power in the business world," the 2012 survey found:
- Austria – 30%, down from 36% in 2009
- France – 35%, up from 33% in 2009
- Germany – 22%, up from 21% in 2009
- Hungary – 73%, up from 67% in 2009
- Italy – 39% in 2012
- The Netherlands – 10% in 2012
- Norway – 21% in 2012
- Poland – 54%, down from 55% in 2009
- Spain – 60%, up from 56% in 2009
- The United Kingdom – 20%, up from 15% in 2009
In responding "probably true" to the statement "Jews have too much power in international financial markets," the 2012 survey found:
- Austria – 38%, up from 37% in 2009
- France – 29%, up from 27% in 2009
- Germany – 24%, up from 22% in 2009
- Hungary – 75%, up from 59% in 2009
- Italy – 43% in 2012
- The Netherlands – 17% in 2012
- Norway -- 23% in 2012
- Poland – 54%, unchanged from 2009
- Spain – 67%, down from 74% in 2009
- The United Kingdom – 22%, up from 15% in 2009
In responding "probably true" to the statement, "Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust," the 2012 survey found:
- Austria – 45%, down from 55% in 2009
- France – 35%, up from 33% in 2009
- Germany – 43%, down from 45% in 2009
- Hungary – 63%, up from 56% in 2009
- Italy – 48% in 2012
- The Netherlands – 31% in 2012
- Norway – 25% in 2012
- Poland – 53%, down from 55% in 2009
- Spain – 47%, up from 42% in 2009
- The United Kingdom – 24%, up from 20% in 2009
ADL commissioned First International Resources to conduct the survey. Fielded in Europe by Ipsos-Reid Public Affairs, it was conducted in the national language of each country. The margin of error is +/- 4.43 to +/- 4.85, depending on the specific country, at 95% level of confidence.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
© 2013 Anti-Defamation League. All rights reserved.
The Anti-Defamation League is a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt
under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).
Statement by Ambassador Daniel Taub in relation to the comments made by Jack Straw MP, on 22 October, regarding the use of money and power to influence international policy on the Middle East:
"These comments fall in a very troubling tradition of attributing support for Israel to a sinister exercise of Jewish power. Particularly striking is the refusal to consider that support for Israel may arise, not as a result of pressure from some mysterious cabal, but simply from the recognition that, within the current turmoil in the Middle East, Israel remains an island of stability, irrevocably committed to democracy, free speech and the rule of law. "
Embassy of Israel
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Please note that the following text has been divided into black and red passages. Black (very roughly) represents summaries of what is in the curriculum (or direct quotations from it). Red denotes my own comments or material I have imported as commentary.
· The organization responsible for the curriculum is 100% pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel.
·The NGOs recommended and referred to at length are all 100% pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel.
·The media (books, films, etc.) recommended as further information are all 100% pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel.
· The photographs used as a basis for stories are predominantly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. None are pro-Israel.
· The text itself is predominantly pro-Palestinian, often anti-Israel, and never pro-Israel.
· Individuals referred to and given favourable profiles are 100% pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel.
· The historical information in the text is frequently inaccurate and often pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel, mainly be leaving out vital information without which a genuine balance is impossible.
· Consistently, this reads like the transcript of a trial in which only one side is allowed to speak or to employ counsel.
· There is a routine failure to identify terms, facts or quotations as controversial. E.g. ‘Occupies, occupation; the separation barrier = a wall’ without any indication of how these are understood by Israel.
· At almost every juncture, when facts are given (or statements that purport to be facts) there is no context. Palestinians suffer, but no-one suggest that they have played a huge part in bringing this about.
· There are almost no references to Palestinian terrorists, suicide bombers, incitement to anti-Semitism, or refusal to make peace.
· There are several important omissions, such as the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Hamas gets only a brief mention in the glossary. There are no Israeli NGOs or other bodies, nor of Israeli voices both public or official. Where, for example, are the voices of Israeli parents whose children have been killed or marred for life by Palestinian terrorists.
· There is grave misrepresentation of the refugee situation.
· The curriculum includes four maps that are seriously misleading and which come directly from pro-Palestinian sources.
· Israelis are shown throughout as abusers of human rights. Nothing positive is said about them. Yet Israel’s record for human rights is by far the most impressive in the Middle East.
·Nothing whatsoever is said about anti-Semitism, a centuries-old evil that lies at the root of so much of this conflict
The media and films come from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey, an openly pro-Palestinian organization, and the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, which was founded by a group of Palestinian journalists and is also openly pro-Palestinian.
I must ask how any pupil, wanting to do further reading, could obtain a fair and non-judgemental picture from these sources, which present only one side of a complex conflict. Of course, these titles are aimed at adults so, on that assumption, one solution is to add half a dozen pro-Israel titles as a counterbalance. Here are some possibilities. The first, by a famous Irish statesman and writer, is out of date but remains one of the most balanced accounts.
Alternatively, we could scrap all these and find half a dozen books of unimpugnable neutrality. These, however, would be hard to find.
May I also suggest the following films and reports, from which a selection can be made?
The bias shown throughout this curriculum should not come as a surprise. To evaluate the curriculum means evaluating those behind it.
The two writers who worked on this project were Mary Gannon and Elaine Murtagh. As we have just seen, Ms Murtagh belongs to the board of Sadaka and cannot be regarded as a neutral commentator on any of the subjects dealt with in the curriculum. And I am – perhaps unreasonably – concerned that Mary Gannon also works for the CDU, to whom I have been advised to present this report.
There is also a list of five advisors, all female teachers in Catholic schools in Northern Ireland. While they may have been invaluable as experienced teachers accustomed to working with pupils of this age, it is hard to see what if any help they can have given with the content. It is somewhat shocking to note that no-one with professional expertise in this difficult subject area was involved in the writing or editing of the curriculum.
It seems that not a single person involved in creating this curriculum was able to provide balance from the Israeli side. This seems incredible to me and makes me think of the curriculum as nothing but pro-Palestinian propaganda. I cannot think of a single situation in which such a high level of bias would be tolerated in materials to be studied by vulnerable schoolchildren. Not a single balancing voice. I find that hard to believe. I would certainly never have given something so out of order to university students, let alone to young children, who are still susceptible to what they are told.
The bias continues throughout the curriculum. Let me explain.
These call on students to engage with ‘human rights’ organizations (mostly NGOs), as follows:
BtS’s policy of shedding light on actions by the Israeli military may be commendable up to a point, but in doing so, their lack of actual evidence for their many allegations, which is based on unreliable testimony, their blindness to Palestinian terror as a provocative fact or in the struggle, and their frequent failure to establish chronology make this an unreliable organization to cite in a context where balance is needed.
No organizations in the above lists work from the Israeli position, but are just bodies that are openly pro-Palestinian. Thus, there is a serious absence of balance. Palestinian terrorism and Palestinian insistence on a single Palestinian state in which Israel will be obliterated are issues passed over in silence. Several of these ‘human rights’ organizations have been involved in civil disobedience and the boycott of Israel. Addammeer calls for the abolition of the ‘death penalty’. This is deliberately provocative since there is not and never has been a death penalty in Israel. The only person to have been put to death in Israel was Adolf Eichmann, the notorious Nazi and architect of the Holocaust.
The reference to the ‘death penalty’ must be removed, unless it is used in a discussion of Gaza (where it is used) or the West Bank (where there is a moratorium, but where someone may legally be put to death simply for selling land to a Jew).
The NGOs mentioned must be balanced by reference to Israeli or pro-Israel NGOs. I suggest any of those listed above. In addition, StandWithUs is an international non-profit organization that chiefly works with young people and students (it runs a campaign called ‘Israeli Soldiers’ Stories’, which serves as a corrective to the negative claims of BtS). The UK-based Christian Friends of Israel, which is self-explanatory. And Israel 21C, which isn’t an NGO but a website with numerous links that explains in some detail the advances made by Israel in science, medicine, IT, and technology. Important for pupils with an interest in such matters.
A historical corrective: Palestine (as ‘Palaestina’) was a term used by the ancient Romans following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In the modern period that region was part of a province of the Ottoman Empire and was divided into different velayets, sanjaks, and the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem. The broad region was called Syria, as it had always been. There was no place called Palestine. After World War I, the British, with the agreement of the League of Nations, set up a Palestine Mandate (like the mandate of Iraq or the French mandates of Syria and, later, Lebanon. This is where the inaccurate references to ‘Palestine’ or a ‘Palestinian state’ originated. Eventually, if the Palestinians ever make peace with Israel, they may establish an independent state of Palestine.
The term ‘occupation’ used without caveat is extremely misleading. Many authorities in international law have argued that Israel does not occupy ‘Palestinian’ territory at all in any legal sense (as argued here by Avinoam Sharon on behalf of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: jcpa.org/text/Occupation-Sharon.pdf Sharon is the former Chief Prosecutor for Samaria and Judea [the West Bank] and Gaza). Among many other legal arguments, Sharon points out that just as the continued presence of American troops in Iraq after the handover of the country to the Iraqi Interim Government did not constitute occupation, so the complete withdrawal of an Israeli presence in Gaza and the partial withdrawal of Israel troops from the West Bank after the Oslo Agreements make talk of an occupation both absurd and legally untenable.
If the curriculum is to retain references to the presumed ‘occupation’, this must be done with a proper balance of facts. Whether this can be done for such a young readership is doubtful, but if that cannot be achieved the subject should dropped entirely.
It may also be worth commenting that the ‘occupation’ is only there so long as the Palestinians continue the use of terrorism and educate their children to hate Jews. It also depends on recognition that Jews are entitled to live in the West Bank and Gaza in the same way Palestinians are entitled to live in most other countries. Ending the ‘occupation’ depends as much on the Palestinians as on Israel. And that involves adherence to the terms of UN Resolution 242, which the Arabs continue to distort.
Part of a future Palestine is Gaza. Israel withdrew from it in 2005 (and has received over 14000 rockets in return). Israel has also withdrawn from the Sinai peninsula and southern Lebanon. It has on several occasions, therefore, exchanged land for peace and received very little peace in return.
On the same page there is a reference to ‘Palestinians living in Israel’.
This is misleading. There are many Arab citizens who live in Israel, with exactly the same rights and opportunities as Jewish citizens. In other words, they may be Arabs, but they are also Israelis.Palestinians are those Arabs who choose to live in the territory designated for a future Palestinian state.
On page 11, the document says that 21% of the Israeli population are Palestinians. This is, again, misleading, and for the same reason. The correct terms for this 21% are ‘Israeli Arabs’ or ‘Arab Israelis’.
This implies that all Palestinian prisoners are innocent of any crime. In fact, such prisoners include murderers, terrorists, and the usual range of criminals. They have all been given fair trials, they live in Israeli prisons, which are among the most comfortable and well-managed in the world, they have been provided with legal assistance, and they know that anyone who is proven innocent will be released. Israel has, in fact, released Palestinian prisoners in large numbers in the hope of peace or as an exchange for dead or kidnapped Israelis. Doing so has had no noticeable effect on the Palestinians whatever. Terrorists released from Israeli gaols have repeatedly sworn to return to violence. This image should either be removed or balanced by a relevant Israeli image (the interior of an Israeli prison, for example?).
Although this mentions that the demonstrations at Bilin (Bil’in) are weekly, it does not say how violent they can be. A lot of rocks are thrown, and children are involved.
This is the second photograph showing a demo at Bil’in. It should be removed.
If this photograph is used and captioned, it should be stated that he was a terrorist. The whole caption may need correction. B’tselem, a leading Israeli anti-Israel NGO has drawn up detailed lists of Palestinian deaths in Gaza that have resulted from Israeli attacks
Kamal ad-Dahduh does not appear on this list or on any other online resource. No-one seems to have been killed by Israeli fire in September 2009. There are records of the deaths of an A’tah ad-Dahduh (19) and a Muhammad ad-Dahduh (43), but not of the one named in the caption. To correct this will require better information. If it is used, we should demand a photograph of an Israeli soldier’s funeral. This is a two-sided conflict.
I would require proper details about who the students are, if they are students, at what university, and when. Palestinian universities are well-known hotbeds of terrorist activity and recruitment. A balancing photograph might be one of the young Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped and sequestrated by Hamas for five years, from 2006 to 2011.
It might be wise to balance this image with something related to the 1929 massacre of Jews in Hebron. I have visited Hebron and seen that the small Jewish community there is not well treated by the Muslim majority.
There is no context for this image. No doubt the scene is tragic, but Israeli forces do not demolish houses without good reason, and such actions are taken within a broad legal context.
Again, no context. A balance might be struck with a photograph of IDF soldiers uncovering arms or suicide vests at a checkpoint. Without the context of Palestinian terrorism, imagery often carries false meanings.
Why not replace this with a photograph of Israelis protesting in 2011 and 2012 on social issues like the cost of living, the cost of housing, increases in poverty etc., similar to demos in European and US cities? This would show that Israel, whatever its successes, has problems too.
This is highly misleading: only 2-3% of Israel’s security barrier is a wall and none of it is ‘illegal’. The barrier has saved thousands of lives. That is more important than legality. The barrier remains essential because attempted or successful terrorist attacks continue: In September 2013 alone, there were 129 attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem, an increase from 68 in August. There are dozens of similar barriers round the world: should that not be mentioned? A full list of walls and barriers round the world appears a few lines lower.
We may conclude that most of the photographs and their captions are neutral, eleven are pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel, none of them are critical of the Palestinians and none are favourable to the Israelis.
Here is a list of barriers and walls round the world.
US/Mexico Proposed. 3,360km. Several barriers already exist with Mexico (California, Texas, Arizona). This would cover the entire border. Anti-immigration.
Belfast, N. Ireland. Built early 1970s. Average 500m. Number around 40. Anti-terror.
Padua, Italy 2006. 85m. 3m-high, round mainly African Anelli estate. Internal.
Ceuta, Morocco 2001. 8km. €30m. EU-funded. Razor wire. Anti-immigration. Responsible for over 4,000 deaths.
Mellila, Morocco 1998. 11km. Anti-immigration.
Morocco/Western Sahara 1987. 2,700km. To keep out W. Saharan (Polisario) insurgents
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt 2005. 20km. Anti-terror
Botswana/Zimbabwe 2003. 500km. Electrified. Anti-immigration.
South Africa/Mozambique 1975. 120km. Anti-immigration. Carries 3,300 volts. Has killed more people than Berlin Wall
Israel/West Bank. Under construction. 703km. Anti-terror.
Adhamiyya, Iraq 2007. 5km. Anti-terror.
Cyprus 1974. 300km. Conflict zone barrier between Turkish and Greek Cyprus.
Kuwait/Iraq 1991.* 193km. Built by United Nations. Conflict zone barrier.
Saudi Arabia/Yemen 2004.* 75km. Anti-terror.
Saudi Arabia/Iraq. 900 km. Part of much longer security barrier to cover 6,500 kms of border.
United Arab Emirates/Oman 2007. 410km. Anti-immigration.
Russia/Chechnya. Proposed 2005. 700 km. Anti-terror
Russia . Electronic security barrier along old Soviet border.
Kashmir 2004. 550km. Anti-terror (India).
Pakistan/Afghanistan Proposed 2005. 2,400km. Anti-terror (Pakistan).
Uzbekistan/Kyrgyzstan 1999.* Barbed wire. 870km. Conflict zone.
Uzbekistan/Afghanistan. Two fences, one barbed wire, one electrified with land mines. 130-mile border.
China/North Korea 2006. 1,416km. Conflict zone.
Korea Demilitarized Zone 1953. 248km. Av. 4 km wide. Patrolled by 2 million soldiers. Most heavily guarded border in world. Conflict zone.
China/Hong Kong 1999. 32km. Internal barrier.
China/Macau 1999. 340km. Internal barrier.
Brunei/Limbang 2005. 20km. Anti-immigration.
Thailand/Malaysia Proposed. 650km. Anti-immigration.
India/Pakistan.* Barbed and concertina wire, giant floodlights. Along 1,800-mile border.
India/Bangladesh.* 3,268km. Conflict zone.
India/Burma, in construction. To cover 1009-mile border.
Iran/Pakistan. 10-foot high wall for 700 km.
Greece/Turkey. Wall to be constructed along route of Evros River.
The UN Partition Plan was put into practice by the UN General Assembly. While the authors of the curriculum may be critical of it, surely it demands too much of young children to grasp something of this order or to appreciate those criticisms when set beside the UN vote. Better to give the facts at this stage.
p. 16 ff. Timeline
This is not how I, as a historian, would describe this event. Wars do not simply ‘break out’. In most cases, there is an aggressor state (or coalition or empire), and in this case five Arab countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria – NOT ‘Palestinians’) deployed five armies to invade the fledgling State of Israel on the day after its establishment. The Israelis, small in number and much outnumbered by their enemies, nevertheless succeeded in averting a tragedy and won the war. The ‘Palestinians’ played a very limited part in these events. It ended with Gaza in the hands of the Egyptians and Jerusalem and the West Bank in the hands of the Jordanians. This is historical fact, and any mention of the war must be written to reflect who attacked and who was attacked.
This is profoundly disingenuous. It is not said that Israel legally proclaimed a state in accordance with Britain’s and the international community’s aims in creating a mandate and the UN General Assembly resolution in favour of an Israeli state. It does not point out at all that a war started in 1948 and continued until 1949, as described above. Again, if this reference is kept, it must have historical facts rather than deliberate misrepresentation.
The flight of Palestinian refugees (whether 750,000 or 600,000) is deeply contentious. Some were undoubtedly expelled by Israeli troops fighting on several fronts at once. Many more were encouraged or forced to flee by the Arab Higher Committee or by officers of the Arab Liberation Army. The Israelis did not set out to put any Arabs to flight, though they did decide to do so in part after the war started. In several places, like Haifa, Jewish leaders pleaded with the Arab inhabitants to remain. Most Arabs fled out of natural fear when fighting approached their towns or villages, in a war the Arabs started. This balance needs to be clarified.
Note that the UN estimate for Arab refugees was 711,000, not 750,000.
It needs to be explained that all refugees from this period round the world have been successfully resettled by the main UN refugee agency, UNHCR, but Palestinian refugees, who are dealt with separately and get about three times as much funding as their special agency, UNWRA, for the most part remain in refugees. Unlike all other refugees, Palestinians are allowed to transmit their status to their children and grandchildren for as many generations as they please. Confining them to camps and working exclusively through UNWRA is official policy in Arab countries. It is designed to make the refugees thorns in the flesh of Israel in the hope that they will one day exercise their Right of Return and flood Israel with millions of Palestinians, who will dismantle the Jewish state. No discussion of refugees should avoid this central fact, yet the present curriculum makes absolutely no mention of it.
This is unbalanced. The Jews in question were survivors of the Holocaust, and their arrival in Israel was a matter for celebration. Not only that, but Israel had expressly been created to be a safe haven for Jews, so that the arrival of Jews like these in a Jewish state should come as no surprise. There is no reference to the larger number (900,000) of Sephardi Jews who were forced out of Arab lands after 1949. They too were refugees, but unlike Palestinian refugees, were made welcome in their new homes. Again, balance is needed.
As for 1948, no explanation is given about how the war started (the Arabs planned another invasion and massed troops on Israel’s borders). We are just told that ‘Israel occupies’ and Palestinians now live under military rule. Israel begins settlements. No explanation is given about how UN Resolution 242 was drafted to allow ongoing Israeli settlement (within reasonable limits) of Gaza and the West Bank. No link is drawn between Israeli military rule and the use of terror by the PLO and other organizations.
This is misleading. Palestinians have reasonably free access across 39% of the West Bank. Area A is entirely controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and it is a criminal offence for Israelis to enter it. And the one-third access statement needs to be balanced by the fact that built-up settlements constitute a mere 1.7% of West Bank land. The question of access has to be set alongside the long years of Palestinian terrorism. This curriculum has been written as though this extremely dangerous form of terrorism never existed.
p. 17 Four maps
These and similar maps have been widely distributed internationally and have always been used in the context of pro-Palestinian anti-Arab propaganda. They are seriously misleading In 2011 the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio Canada concluded that the maps are ‘erroneous, confused and incomplete’. It is hard to see why such maps, this described by a neutral body, should be used in a school curriculum.
This is often substituted by the same map with large numbers of Jewish settlements, kibbutzim and moshavim in the north. If I may cite the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs:
‘There was no independent country called “Palestine” in 1946. The area was under the League of Nations British Mandate following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI, which had controlled “Palestine” for 400 years. Labeling the territory “Palestine” incorrectly implies that a state by that name existed before Israel and was subsequently destroyed by Israel.
‘This map misleadingly depicts Jewish-owned land eating away at the rest of the territory, drawing a false distinction between Jewish-owned land and the rest of the territory under the British Mandate – a single political entity. Even so, this map still omits the Jewish-majority population of Jerusalem.
‘This map also misleadingly portrays the rest of the territory as belonging to the Palestinian Arabs (who were later dispossessed of it and became refugees). An accurate depiction would not show a simple division between white and green, but a rainbow of colours depicting land owned by Jews, Palestinian Arabs, Arab absentee landlords from other countries and European churches. Most of the land was owned by Arab absentee landlords in Beirut, Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad. In fact, the largest area would have been unregistered public lands belonging to the British mandatory government. This wilful misrepresentation is designed to promote the false message that Israel exists on land stolen from its rightful owners – the Palestinian Arabs.
This map omits the designation of Jerusalem and Bethlehem as a UN administered corpus separatum, over which neither the Jewish nor the Arab state would have sovereignty for ten years pending a referendum of its residents on whether this arrangement should continue. It also avoids stating that, although the area proposed for the Jewish state is slightly larger, 60% of it was desert. Take away that 60% and the map would show a very different picture.
Between 1949 and 1967, the yellow areas were not ‘Palestine’. They had either been annexed to Jordan (West Bank, 1950-1967) or were under Egyptian military rule. This was a very different situation to what is portrayed in these maps.
Here is a simple map of Israel. The lower portion marked Negev Desert represents well over half of the country (which ends just north of the Sea of Galilee). This changes our perspective about how land was distributed between Arabs and Jews.
This map for 2012 implies that Israel has annexed areas of the West Bank. In fact, Israel exercises authority in these areas under the auspices of the Oslo Accords (1993) signed by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
‘This agreement divided the West Bank and Gaza into three areas: A, B and C. The Palestinians are responsible for both civil and security administration in Area A and exercise civil authority in Area B. Israel is responsible for security administration in Area B and both civil and security administration in Area C.
‘It is important to note that this was proposed as and continues to be a temporary situation. Israel has not permanently annexed Area C. The precise parameters of how much of Area C will remain under Israeli administration in a final-status agreement is subject to negotiations with the Palestinians and will almost certainly involve concomitant land-swaps so that the total area comprising a future Palestinian state will remain more or less unchanged from the territory depicted in Map 3.’
p. 18. For 2005: ‘2005: Withdrawal of Israeli settlers from Gaza strip. Israel still controlling all access to area.’
This ignores several things. No mention is made of the fact that the withdrawal from Gaza was reciprocated by some 14,000 rockets fired by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups, targeted on Israeli civilians in Sderot and elsewhere, and an absolute refusal to make peace (the Hamas covenant says ‘Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement’ and ‘There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.’) Nothing is said about the thousands of tons of food and other materials that Israel sends into Gaza on a daily basis. Nor is it mentioned that Israel is not the only country to impose a (partial) blockade on Gaza: t
a blockade has been put in place by the Egyptian government, which has destroyed over 1000 tunnels operated by Hamas to smuggle in goods and weapons. Then naval blockade is entirely legal and, from the point of view of Israel’s security, absolutely essential. Actual control of the Gaza Strip is in the hands of Hamas. The rest involves security measures for Israel and Egypt. If Hamas were to stop illegal and aggressive actions, security could be lifted and the Gazans would be free to be as free as any other Arab country. But the responsibility for that is theirs, not Israel’s. As we all know, if the Gardaí place pressure on drug smugglers and sellers, the remedy does not lie with the Gardaí but with the criminals, who are at liberty to stop their activities.
Here again, pupils will go away with a distorted view of the conflict.
p. 18 For 1947. ‘UN partition plan, granting 56% of the area to a Jewish state, though they only comprised 1/3 of the population and owned less than 6% of the land. Outbreak of war between Israelis and Palestinians.’
No details at all of the numerous international conferences, agreements, League of Nations deliberations, UN deliberations, British negotiations, the total failure of the Ottoman state, the nature of all post-war agreements after World War I. If that is too complex for this age group, then it would better be explained more simply. But if this is directed at teachers, it is guaranteed to mislead. This statement refers to Jews having less than 6% of the land at this stage (7% would be more accurate), but fails to state that the Jews had the worst land in the country but worked on it to create a thriving agricultural basis for a future state. This also fails to state that the territory given to the Jews had to be enough for large numbers of future Jewish refugees and as provision for future generations. The area in question had been calculated by several countries and the UN. Also, there is afailure to show that this was a period of a major Civil War between Jewish inhabitants and mandatory Arabs, aided by other Arabs. It omits the fact that the Arabs started hostilities in defiance of repeated Israeli calls for peace.
• p. 18: 1948: ‘Proclamation of the State of Israel. 750,000 Palestinian refugees fled homes. West Bank & East Jerusalem came under Jordanian control. Gaza Strip came under Egyptian control.’
This is profoundly disingenuous. It is not said that Israel proclaimed a state in accordance with Britain’s aims in creating a mandate and the UN General Assembly resolution in favour of an Israeli state. It may be taken to mean that the Israelis made a unilateral declaration of independence. It did not. It does not point out at all that a war started in 1948 and continued until 1949 – the starting point for most of the conflict that has followed. The war was started by five Arab countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq) with the express aim of destroying the new Jewish state and returning the whole country to Arab rule. Not to mention any of this undermines any claim to historical balance. Israeli statistics for the number of Arab refugees are somewhere between 550,000 and 600,000, and this should have been included in the text.
• p. 19: ‘In 1948 all restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine were lifted. Between 1948 -1951, 700,000 Jews arrived from Europe, including two thirds of the Jews displaced after World War 2.’
This is inaccurate and omissive. The figure should be 600,000. The Jews who were ‘displaced’ were not simply displaced persons, but Holocaust survivors. The British kept them in interment camps in Cyprus after World War II. The entry makes no mention of the 900,000 displaced Jews expelled from Arab states, of whom 580,000 moved to Israel. In both cases, Israel acted as a haven for Jews fleeing from tyranny and bigotry. By leaving this unsaid, schoolchildren may see the Jews as people intent on taking other people’s property.
• p. 19 For 1967: ‘Six-Day’ War – ‘Israel occupies Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians in those areas living under military rule. Israel begin to build settlements in Palestinian areas.’
As for 1948, no explanation is given about how the war started or how the Arab states involved were on the brink of yet another invasion of Israel. We are told that ‘Israel occupies’ and Palestinians now live under military rule, without any reference to the legality of occupation following a defensive war and the fact that Israel did not annex these territories and has offered to return them once the Palestinians give up hostilities. ‘Israel begins settlements’. No explanation about how UN Resolution 242 was drafted to allow ongoing Israeli settlement (within reasonable limits) of Gaza and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). No link between Israeli military rule and the use of terror by the PLO and other Islamist organizations.
• p. 19.
The timeline comes to an end in 1967. There is no mention of several important matters: the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when Arab armies attempted for the third time to invade and destroy Israel, and Israel fought back and snatched victory out of the jaws of a near-defeat. The security barrier is not mentioned. The Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestine Authority are not mentioned. The 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is not mentioned. The two engagements between Israel and Gaza are not mentioned. The rocket attacks from Gaza are not referred to. The war with Hizbullah is not mentioned. The 2008 peace talks and their failure are not mentioned. The 2008 peace talks with Syria are not mentioned. The 2007 and 2009 talks with the Palestinians are not mentioned. The 2010 direct talks are not mentioned. The Camp David fiasco is not mentioned. The two intifadas are ignored. There is no mention of the current peace talks or of the Fogel murders in 2011. Such major omissions must be put into the text.
Furthermore, not a single positive word is said about Israel anywhere in the timeline or elsewhere. Israel’s record in women’s rights, gay rights, the rights of religious minorities like the Baha’is (whose world centre in Haifa stands in contrast to the persecutions in Iran and elsewhere), international aid, multiculturalism, bilingualism, education, international agricultural development (especially in Africa), medicine, technology, computing, education, the arts, free speech, an open press, democracy, and much more is passed over in total silence despite the fact that Israel is a world leader in so many fields. Israelis are only portrayed as aggressive abusers of human rights, something I would argue they are not. Similarly, the Palestinian record as the world’s leader in terrorism is conveniently forgotten. How can a curriculum with such omissions bring pupils to an understanding of the truth between both sides? We need to add some lines or a section to acknowledge the staggering contribution of Israel in so many fields. And it will be morally positive for children to learn that Jews have created so much out of the ashes of six million dead.
• The Glossary on p. 77 has a short entry for Hamas.
While slanted, the entry does give some idea of Hamas’s aggression, but says nothing of the range. However, although Hamas is an important feature in any discussion of the contemporary situation, it is not mentioned once in the text – a remarkable omission. We need a reference or two to their 1988 Charter, which rejects peace out of hand, and some mention of their attachment to jihad-based terrorism, as well as their treatment of other Palestinians.
• The map showing Jewish and Arab movement is misleading.
The captions for Jewish movement into Israel are labelled ‘Europe’, ‘Africa’, ‘Asia’ and ‘Unknown Origin’. Europe is clear. But ‘Africa’ can only mean North Africa and, to a small extent, South Africa (but this gives no idea of the timescale for Morocco, for example; or the fact that South African Jews made up less than 2000 emigrants up to 1960). The departures from Ethiopia come much later. ‘Asia’ is just as vague. It does not refer to the Far East or even India, but to the Middle East and the flight of Jews from neighbouring countries. This needs to be specified, as do the numbers.
• Another striking omission is the absence of any reference to European anti-Semitism in the lead up to the Holocaust, or to Islamic anti-Semitism as an ongoing factor in perpetuating the conflict.
We need to add references to both of these and to the growing rate of anti-Semitic sentiment and actions in most European countries. This is important because it reflects the original animosity towards Jews that impelled Zionists to seek the creation of Israel as a secure haven.
• Yet another omission relates to conditions in Gaza.
While that is a legitimate subject, it is entirely wrong for a resource on peace, human rights and justice to omit all reference to the southern Israeli city of Sderot, which has been subjected to thousands of bombardments by illegal rockets originating in Gaza. And while conditions in Gaza are not ideal, that is mainly because money has been poured into Hamas’s weaponry and into a range of luxury apartment buildings, hotels, and clubs or the purchase of luxury cars by the elite.
• We have to ask why there is no mention of the many external threats Israel has to face, many of which it continues to confront, of the peace treaties Israel has signed with Egypt and Jordan, or of the miniscule size of Israel when compared to the size of the Arab and Muslim worlds. In other words, we ask why there is so little perspective.
• There is no mention of the many peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. If young people are expected to explore possible future solutions, they need to start with the content of previous offers and the (usually negative) responses to them. I have compiled a short list here in a footnote.
Although this lesson seems balanced, it has some flaws. The story cards on pages 26 to 27 purport to give the stories of nine individuals, four Jews and five Arabs. Some of the content is surprising (e.g. Zionists threatening to explode a one-ton car bomb in the street), and I think we are owed some sort of sourcing to show whether these stories are fact-based or fiction. The numbers suggest some form of parity, but in fact they do not. All the Palestinian narratives show Arabs being forced out of their homes by Jews and often remaining in refugee camps. But three of the four Jewish stories, while giving other reasons for their own displacement speak of Jewish fighting to get land, taking Palestinian property, or resenting the offer of someone else’s home. Only one story shows Jews being expelled by Arab states. Nor is there anything about Arab responsibility for the Palestinian refugees and the policy of making them permanent.
The reference to the car bomb comes in Nina’s story:‘when war broke out between the Jews and the Palestinians, we had to flee from our home because Zionists threatened to detonate a 1 ton car bomb in our street.’ I find this worrying. The only incident I can find for 1947-48 is the explosion of a car bomb by the Irgun at the Damascus Gate, which killed 20 people. Irgun were very much at loggerheads with the majority of Zionists and were later disbanded. Many Jews were killed by bombs placed by Palestinians during this period, but this is not mentioned. But this account places all the blame for explosions on the Zionists (who remain, effectively, any passing Jew).
There are several citations from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But no effort is made to link these to issues around ‘moving’. In the wrong hands, these could be used to show a poor human rights record for Israel when, in fact, it has the best human rights policies, legislation and practice in the Middle East. Overall, this section seems tendentious, but it could easily be improved. There should be less emphasis on what the wicked Jews did and some explanation of how that happened and the responsibility of Arab states for the exiling of both Palestinians and Jews. A very short box could be added on the significance of exile in Islamic religious and political thinking, based on the monumentally important hijra of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina. This could show that exile is not always a negative concept for Muslims.
Very few have ever moved for this reason, though the creation of some settlements has resulted in the eviction of Palestinian families.
There is no indication of what period this refers to, the reasons for the eviction, or whether the ‘Jewish forces’ were regular troops or independent militants like the Irgun. If it applies to the modern period, it is partly true but requires greater detail. If it refers to 1948-49, I recommend Benny Morris, 1948 as a source for evictions by Israelis in that period.
There is no reference to which war this was, to who started it, or to why it was destroyed.
The map was designed by The Palestine Acedemic (sic) Society for the Study of International Affairs and is available from their website. PASSIA has published large numbers of well-produced maps that present demography and other matters from a Palestinian point of view. None of the material in this curriculum comes from Israeli sources.
P. 33. 1948.
The text moves from the establishment of Israel directly to the 1949 ceasefire, with no explanation of the war, how it began, the combatants, the Arab rejection of any compromise (which laid the basis for future hostilities), the declarations of jihad, the relative sizes of forces and armaments.
There are no references to the violent Hamas takeover, the destruction of Israeli equipment left to secure the Palestinian future, rocket fire, the two engagements, the legality of the blockade in terms of maritime law, or anything else of relevance.
This is misleading. It ignores the important fact that Israel accepted the resolution, whereas the PLO rejected it out of hand. The curriculum text reads: ‘Israel should withdraw from the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), because these occupations are illegal under international law,’ implying that this is the wording of the resolution. But it is not. Lord Caradon, the chief negotiator, and other international authorities deliberately omitted the words ‘all the territories’, meaning that Israel did not have to withdraw and that final borders must depend on the outcome of future negotiations between the warring parties. Israel has only been asked to withdraw from ‘territories’, without the definite article. There is no illegality about the occupation nor any about Israeli settlements within a limited area of Judea and Samaria.
This isn’t true, at least not in this simplistic sense. Israel has not annexed the West Bank and has no plans to do so. ‘Occupied’ is open to strong challenge from many international jurists such as Prof. Eugene Kontorovich. The majority of settlements are built on state-owned or ‘public’ land, with a smaller number bought by Jewish settlers from Arab owners. ‘Confiscated’ is entirely untrue. Settlements are by no means ‘colonies’, especially because there is no imperial system in force. These points should be made openly, perhaps with some finer detail. As it stands, the statement is a distortion of a complex reality.
It should have been added that this involves a misreading of the Convention, in that many experts in international law, like Professor Gerald Steinberg, hold a very different interpretation with regard to the Israeli settlements. The International Red Cross confirmed many years ago that Article 49 of the Convention applied to the sort of deportation and transfer that the Nazis and others used during and after World War II. This doers not refer to the voluntary transfers of Israeli Jews. Furthermore, not all international jurists would describe Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria as ‘occupation’, and this interpretation deserves at least a mention. Use of the Geneva Convention’s Article 49 in this context simply perpetuates one of many myths about Israel that are still in use.
p. 41.Key Facts for Refugees
Most of this page shows facts that favour a pro-Palestinian position. There is no mention of UNWRA, the agency responsible for the Palestinians alone. There is no attempt to explain why the Palestinians are the only refugees still in existence following World War II (all others were resettled years ago) and the only refugees now in their third or fourth generation. It says nothing about the intricate and sometimes violent relations between Palestinian refugees and the governments of the countries they live in. A former UNRWA official, Sir Alexander Galloway, said in April 1952: ‘The Arab States do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.’ This switches the balance greatly.
Part of the text reads: ‘UN General Assembly Resolution 194 states that: Refugees wishing to return to their homes should be permitted to do so Compensation should be paid to those choosing not to return Compensation should be paid to refugees for loss of or damage to property’.
This is a reasonable summary, but it omits any reference to the fact that it was opposed by Israel and was rejected out of hand by the Arabs. Nor is it fully clear that the resolution was written in the middle of a war in which the Arabs planned to exterminate the Jewish population and the Jews were fighting for their lives. In that respect, interpretation and application of the resolution was never going to be simple.
Israel has never failed to admit that it played a part in this (see, for example, the eminent Israeli historian Benny Morris, in his book 1948). But two vital points are overlooked. The first is that the Arabs (5 countries) began the war that led to the refugee problem. The second is that many, perhaps the majority of flights were made on orders from Arab forces. Their role is much greater than Israel’s. The third is that the Arab states (e.g. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait and some others) have seldom admitted their sometimes cruel treatment (expulsion, murder) of their Palestinian brethren. As before, this should be a two-way discussion.
Why not show Israeli camps where Syrian refugees are being houses, fed and treated?
p. 44 is on the Status of Jerusalem.
This includes a statement that when Palestinians build houses without permits, the Israelis demolish them. This seems simplistic. All citizens in the developed world (e.g. Ireland) require a permit to build a house, and if one is built without it, the state will demolish it. ‘If Palestinians would submit request for building permits, there could be thousands more approvals,’ said Capt Zidki Maman of the West Bank civil administration.
It was, of course, part of Jordan when Israel took it. To repeat: there has never been a state called ‘Palestine’.
The video is not without merits, but it is thoroughly one-sided. At one point Waters narrates that the Wall will be over 700 kms long. He is wrong. The entire barrier is 700 km long. 90% is a fence. 10% or less is a wall. Nowhere is it explained why the wall and the checkpoints inside it are necessary, or how often would-be terrorists are picked up on an almost daily basis. There are dozens of terror attacks every month.
pp. 49-51. A long list of international bodies
Useful though this may be to adults, it seems irrelevant to children of this age. It seems to have been put here to prepare the way for the entry on the controversial Richard Falk – see below.
Falk is a bigot on many fronts. Following remarks he made after the Boston Marathon bombings, the Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said ‘Once again, United Nations official Richard Falk has spewed more mean-spirited, anti-Semitic rhetoric, this time blaming the attacks in Boston on President Obama and the State of Israel. The United Nations should be ashamed to even be associated with such an individual.’ He has openly defended Ayatollah Khomeini and Mu’ammar Ghadhafi, and has been widely condemned as an anti-Semite. The US representative to the Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, has called for Falk’s resignation: ‘His views and behavior, both official and unofficial, are offensive and provocative and do nothing to advance peace in the Middle East or to further the protection and promotion of human rights. We again call for his resignation.’
Surely not someone to cite favourably on a children’s curriculum.
The rest of the discussion focuses on ‘the abuse of Palestinian children by the Israeli Authorities’. This is followed by a summary of a report on the abuse of Palestinian children by none other than Richard Falk. There is nothing from the Israeli authorities or social services on what is called here ‘child abuse’, and nothing on the many Israeli children who have been murdered or badly injured over the years. Nor is anything said about joint Israeli-Palestinian initiatives for children, encouraging participation in sports, music, or dialogue, nor about the extensive treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli hospitals or through heart transplant provision with organizations like ‘Save a Child’s Heart’. No doubt there are problems, but much that is said about Israel is myth or exaggeration.
Whether or not we should take this at face value, it should not be the first and last word on this subject. If it remains, we need some form of official Israeli response to these accusations.
Almost every single question holds Israel to blame. From an educational point of view, please note that most of the questions are leading questions. Here they are:
1. What is the Human Rights issue that you want to inform us about?
These questions are too advanced for the age group they are aimed at. None of the children will have had any experience in such matters. Therefore, they will have to depend on secondary information, and the only information to which they will have been exposed are references in a pro-Palestinian curriculum and a report written by a notorious anti-Semite. This will not advance sensible dialogue or understanding.
What it does not do for the present context is to expose the long history of the council’s extreme bias against Israel. Since its inception in 2006, the Council has criticized Israel at every session, and has seldom if ever criticized other countries. All its condemnations of Israel have been sponsored by a combination of Arab and Islamic countries. Although Israel has the best record in the Middle East in respect of democracy, women’s rights, gay rights, the rights of religious minorities, and acting against racism, it has not once been praised for these things by the Council, whereas countries like Sudan or Iran, with an appalling human rights record have been. It is not right to ask young children to master the intricacies of such political matters.
This recent news item explains the nature of the bias and the condemnation of it from within the UN itself:
‘GENEVA, Oct. 27 - Israel decided today that it will return to the UN Human Rights Council, two days before it is scheduled to undergo a quadrennial review of its human rights record on Tuesday.
‘Now is the time for the Council to show good faith on its part by heeding the calls of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and his predecessor Kofi Annan, to both remove the selective agenda item on Israel -- the only provision of its kind focusing on a specific country – and to end the exclusion of Israel from any of the Council's five regional groups.
‘The Israel-only agenda was criticized by Mr. Ban after its adoption in June 2007 at the initiative of the Arab states. Mr. Ban “voiced disappointment at the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.” Nevertheless, it still remains in place.
‘The council’s permanent investigator on Israeli violations is mandated by the council to examine only Israel and not Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, or any other Arab state or group.
‘It is the only country mandate that examines the actions of only one side and that in advance presumes them to be violations.
‘The one who holds the post, Richard Falk, has endorsed Hamas, praised 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and was condemned this year by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, the U.S., the UK, and Canada, for implying that the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks were the fault of the U.S. and Israel. Falk will present a report to the UNGA on Tuesday calling for a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign to pressure Israel.
‘Leading Figures Oppose UNHRC’s Anti-Israel Bias
Regional Group Exclusion
• ‘“Israel [is] the only Member State that is not a member of one of the regional groups...This anomaly should be corrected. We must uphold the principle of equality among all United Nations Member States.” —Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 25 March 1998.
• ‘“The exclusion of Israel from the system of regional groupings [and] the intense focus given to some of Israel’s actions, while other situations sometimes fail to elicit the similar outrage […] have given a regrettable impression of bias and one-sidedness.” — Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 12 December 1999
• ‘“We must uphold the principle of equality among Member States. I shall keep encouraging all concerned to find a solution.” — Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in regard to Israel’s exclusion from a regional group.
• ‘Late UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio de Mello advocated the inclusion of Israel in the Western group and lobbied ambassadors in Geneva.
• ‘“[We] need to correct a long-standing anomaly that kept Israel from participating fully and equally in the work of the Organization” by including Israel as member of the Western European and Others Group in Geneva. — Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 15 March 2005.
• ‘“Israel’s exclusion from the regional group system places the UN in breach of its fundamental obligations regarding sovereign equality and is thus illegal… The need now to redress it is urgent.” —Sir Robert Jennings, QC, former President of the International Court of Justice.
Biased Agenda Item and Resolutions
• ‘“[I am disappointed by] the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world." —UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 20 June 2007.
• ‘“I know that Israelis see hypocrisy and double standards in the intense scrutiny given to some of its actions, while other situations fail to elicit the world’s outrage and condemnations.” —Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 25 March 1998.
• ‘Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his message to the Human Rights Council on 29 November 2006, expressed the hope that the Council would deal with the Middle East issue “in an impartial way” and “not allow it to monopolize attention at the expense of others where there are equally grave or even graver violations.”
• ‘“I believe the actions of some UN bodies may themselves be counterproductive. The Human Rights Council, for example, has already held three special sessions focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict. I hope the Council will take care to handle the issue in an impartial way, and not allow it to monopolize attention at the expense of other situations where there are no less grave violations, or even worse.” —Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, addressing the Security Council, 12 December 2006.’
The focus of the Sadaka Curriculum on the UN, the UN Human Rights Committee, and its Special Rapporteur Richard Falk is completely undermined by the total absence of impartiality when dealing with Israel. These elements require major correction, giving priority to UN leaders like Ban Ki Moon and Kofi Annan and not the opinions of a conspiracy theorist and anti-Semite like Richard Falk.
It would make sense to add that, under Jordanian rule, conditions were bad for the non-Muslim population. No fewer than 58 yeshivas and synagogues were destroyed, and both Jews and Christians were placed under difficult restrictions. The reconquest of Jerusalem in 1967 was a massive relief to the population, and similar restrictions were not placed on Muslims.
A section on East Jerusalem follows, all of which is critical of Israel. References to house demolitions as before.
There is no alternative Jewish or Israeli view. He is not a friend of Israel. Again, balance has been thrown out the window.
Although reasonable, this is not as complete as the list I have supplied in footnote 1. There is no mention of the fact that the Palestinians walked away from these. The Egyptians have made peace with Israel. The Jordanians have made peace with Israel. But the Palestinians have not. And the text here should have cited the famous and influential clause from the 1967 Khartoum Declaration by the Arab League: ‘no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it....’
The text does not say so, but the first 3 options depend on the agreement of the relevant state. Option Four is the dominant theme of Palestinian propaganda, which is a call for the ‘return’ of all Palestinians to Israel, in order to create a Palestinian state ‘from the river to the sea’, something taught in all Palestinian schools and summer camps. It also ignores the reality: if all Palestinians moved to Israel, there would be no more Israeli state. The new Palestine would inevitably join the chaos of the Arab Spring.
This is disingenuous. Schoolbooks, maps, TV quizzes all contain references to ‘from the river to the sea’. The glossary entry makes the PLO seem quite moderate, whereas it continues to advance a policy of a total takeover.’
Dr. Denis MacEoin
Former Lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies, Newcastle University
Middle East Forum Fellow