Are Palestinians ready for #peace?

(Washington Examiner, 05/11/2016)

Information may be “the oxygen of the modern age,” as Ronald Reagan famously said, but information technology is a mixed bag. Among other things, it has fueled the rise of global jihadism as we know it today.

It enabled a nest of tunnel-based terrorists in Afghanistan to coordinate the most deadly non-state terrorist attack in history 15 years ago. More recently, it has populated a new Islamic “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq with volunteers from around the world.

But there is a silver lining to the widespread use and abuse of social media in the Middle East: It can tell us a great deal about the individuals sitting behind the electronic screens.

Take Hashtag Palestine, the title of an insightful report by Hamleh, the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement. The Ramallah based-nongovernmental organization is dedicated to training individuals and community-based groups to engage in grassroots social media activism. Its recent report on Palestinian social media activity in 2015, a year that launched what is now called the Knife Intifada, is revealing.
Nearly two-thirds of Palestinians have computer access and half use a smartphone.
Palestinians, like others in the world, have become active internet users. Nearly two-thirds report having a computer and half use a smartphone. Young people form the majority of users. With this level of penetration, the Internet is already playing a significant social role in their lives.

What has been trending in Palestine? The report analyses 18 campaigns that tell us something about the Palestinian mood.

The most popular recorded campaign was “#it_will_not_be_divided,” centered on thwarting imagined secret Israeli plans to divide or even destroy al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a popular theme of Islamist leaders who incite violence. Ironically, Israel and Jordan, which are custodians of Temple Mount, recently reached a new understanding on how to better handle the management of the holy site. Continue reading “Are Palestinians ready for #peace?”

Textbook ‘incitement’ debate not over yet

israel palestine schoolbooks

Palestinian texts promote discord, not peace

 

“Victims of Our Own Narratives” was the title of a recent handout given to journalists filling two rooms — one in Jerusalem and the other at the Press Club in Washington, DC. Headlines were quick to follow stating that the problem of incitement in Israeli and Palestinian school textbooks is over. However, wishful thinking aside, it is not.

The “textbook incitement debate” deals with the claims that textbooks in both Israeli and Palestinian societies undermine the peace process and fail to encourage the struggling nations to find common ground. Putting this simply, it is about books that foster hate and struggle rather than tolerance and peace.

Recently – following three years of work – a new report by an Israeli-Palestinian research team claimed to have settled that debate. The self-proclaimed “definitive” report, commissioned by the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land and headed by YaleProfessor Bruce Wexler, studied Israeli and Palestinian textbooks and stated that there is no actual dehumanization or incitement in either curriculum and concluded that both sides need to improve their attitudes toward the other. Continue reading “Textbook ‘incitement’ debate not over yet”

Abbas is right – Education can incite

Mahmoud Abbas is right – education can incite. In which case, he may want to take a closer look at what Palestinian children are learning in their classrooms

(The Commentator)

Mahmoud Abbas’s recent speech in the UN included a reference to the inciting Israeli books that encouraged the latest surge of violence committed by Jewish settlers aimed at hurting Palestinian citizens.

This violence “is the inherent byproduct of the racist climate” claimed Abbas, “fueled by a culture of incitement in the Israeli curriculum and extremist declarations, which are rife with hatred and are rooted in a series of discriminatory laws created and enacted over the years against the Palestinian people”. Continue reading “Abbas is right – Education can incite”

Books, incitement and incitement reports

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.

 

By Nir Boms and Yael Teff-Seker

The Commentator

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 “Books, incitement and incitement reports”