Academic’s new book reveals ‘why nice Jewish boys turn into monsters’


Schoolbooks in Israel have been following an “anti-Palestinian,” aggressive approach since the 1990s, according to a new book set to be released this month.

The author, Nurit Peled-Elhanan, a professor at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, said the approach is taught to schoolchildren in order for them to be hostile towards Palestinians once they serve in the army.

The book, titled “Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education,” includes research and “evidence” into Peled-Elhanan’s theory and research into dozens of Israeli schoolbooks published since the nineties, a Gulf news daily reported.

“I was looking for reasons of why nice Jewish boys turn into monsters when they join the army,” Peled-Elhanan told The National this week.

“They never meet Palestinians face-to-face as children, so the textbooks are all they know,” the professor added.

Among the texts studied, one suggests that “Israel’s Palestinian citizens shun modernization and are building houses illegally,” while another asserts that “Palestinians have been a ‘terrifying demographic problem’ for Israel,” the newspaper reported.

Also, a geography book says “the Arab society ... objects to changes by its nature,” is “reluctant to adopt novelties” and that “modernization seems dangerous to them.”

Peled-Elhanan stated that the books portray Arabs as being primitive and clannish, the newspaper reported.

But the study has drawn criticism from Israeli academics who have accused Peled-Elhanan of rousing anti-Israeli sentiment, arguing that textbook bias exists in many countries, including the United States.

“The bias in America is white and Protestant, just like here it’s Jewish and Ashkenazi,” said Zvi Bekerman, an Israeli professor of education.

Critics have also accused Peled-Elhanan of extremist left-wing views.

But the professor believes she has unearthed important findings, stating Israeli education teaches “hate and xenophobia towards Palestinians.”

Her research also covers mainstream school textbooks that omit Palestinian sites from the map of Jerusalem, which is titled “The Historic Capital of the Jewish People,” in one book.

“Her research cites one textbook saying the escape of Palestinians from Israel amid fears for their lives following the Deir Yassin killings ‘solved a terrifying demographic problem’ for Israel,” the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, one textbook which covered the 1953 Israeli massacre of Palestinians in the West Bank village of Qibya said it had “restored somewhat the confidence of Israeli citizens” and rebuilt “the morale and dignity” of the army.

The claims justify aggression towards Palestinians by showing it benefits
Israel, Peled-Elhanan said.

“Israel wants a de-Arabization of the whole area,” she said. “Authorities have been tremendously successful in teaching this and they know that they won’t have good soldiers if they change the textbooks.”

(Written by Eman El-shenawi)