Suzanne Fields

The study confirms the findings of an Israeli think tank that demonstrate how Iranian textbooks encourage martyrdom in children of tender years. The children are encouraged as early as the second grade to follow the malignant teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the Islamist revolution in Iran, urging Muslims to make use of "the passionate and the martyrdom-seeking youths."

Iran is depicted as the model Muslim state and the protector of Palestinian rights. The Palestinians themselves are attentive students. The Palestinian Authority continues to publish textbooks teaching children in Gaza and the West Bank that a legitimate State of Israel does not exist. Western values of learning, tolerance of opposing viewpoints, democracy and brotherhood are roundly mocked and ridiculed. Mahmoud Abbas managed to delete some of the hate language, but after Hamas came to power the emphasis on armed jihad was restored. A poem in a 12th grade textbook is typical: "I swear by Al-Aqsa Mosque and those plains/I shall not return the sword to its sheath and shall not lay down arms."

"Palestinian Textbooks: From Arafat to Abbas and Hamas" follows studies of textbooks used in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran. The report is published by the American Jewish Committee and the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education. These studies show why the peace process in Palestine so often seems a vain and idle dream. Politicians and diplomats continue to talk of hope and a two-state solution. Palestinian children are taught only the audacity of violence.

None of these facts surprise, but drawing attention to the powerful indoctrination pervasive throughout the Middle East shows how changing the violent reality in the region will be a long and arduous task. Political solutions will be the easy part; first, the culture must be changed. Violent cartoons against the West and disinformation purveyed in textbooks produce a forest of bent twigs.

Alexander Pope had another aphorism useful to temper expectations of the easy pursuit of peace: "Some people will never learn anything because they understand everything too soon."

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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