Although the Israeli Ministry of Education should continue to re-evaluate and improve the books it approves, claiming incitement where there is none, is really a form of incitement in itself.
The issue of incitement has always been a source of heated debate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel, on its part, built an “incitement index” with the aim of monitoring the changes of anti-Israeli rhetoric. The Palestinians followed suit and decided to produce a report of their own with its second addition appearing last week. While studying the issue of incitement with the aim of decreasing it on both sides is a worthwhile undertaking, a closer look at such discourse is also due.
“Israeli textbooks foster hate” heralds the title of the Palestinian report, stating that “there is evidence that Israeli schools teach racist textbooks.” The “evidence” comes in the form of four examples of such “incitement”, three of which are taken from the book Geography of the Land of Israel (2002), which has since been taken off the approved reading list of the Israeli Ministry of Education. The illustration it includes, of an Arab in traditional attire holding a camel, is indeed somewhat stereotypical (though hardly inciting) and was probably the trigger for taking the book off the approved reading list. Continue reading