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Should Kids’ Textbooks Avoid the Israeli-Palestinian Relationship?

Would ignoring the question of conflict be making the best of a bad situation?

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

Monday, a three-year survey funded by the US State Department looking at 94 Palestinian and 74 Israeli textbooks, from grades 1 through 12, found few factual errors. Actually, the study found little that even referenced the relationship to the other. The study, by the Jerusalem-based Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, found “a lack of information about the religions, culture, economic and daily activities of the other.” Maps, in particular, denied “the legitimate presence of the other.”

This is certainly less caustic than happens in other regions of the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, where textbooks are rife with bigotry, though the study did find that the Palestinian and Israeli textbooks did often reference the other as “the enemy.”

Would going one step further and simply ignoring the realities of the “enemy” — essentially denying the question of conflict as much as possible — in the local textbooks making the best of a bad situation?

Textbooks indoctrinate each new generation of children into a particular worldview. One would hope that introducing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and humanizing the “enemy” candidly would help foster the kind of curiosity and dialogue that might eventually lead to a lasting peace. In fact, it might just be the only way.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comment.

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