** A “reboot” of the original post from 10/24/16 (with additional information and context added here); updated 11/30/16
On October 13th and 14th, the U.S. Department of State hosted a delegation of Palestinian educators, led by Palestinian Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Sabri Saidam. The delegation engaged in dialogue “with their U.S. higher education counterparts, as well as with other education experts and private sector representatives with the goal of the dialogue … to foster lasting partnerships between U.S. and Palestinian institutions of higher education and the private sector, strengthen institutional capabilities, and enhance educational and professional opportunities for young Palestinians.”
“The U.S. delegation involved in the dialogue included Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson; Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs; Paige Alexander, USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East; and Consul General to Jerusalem Donald Blome.
The 19-person Palestinian delegation was led by the Palestinian Minister of Education and Higher Education Sabri Saidam, and included university presidents and vice presidents, representatives from the ministry, and private sector executives.”
An announcement of three grants was made at the conclusion of the two-day event, including a grant aimed at strengthening digital literacy in classrooms and introducing basic software design in 450 Palestinian schools. With the spotlight on the Palestinian Authority as-of-late for rewarding those who commit acts of terror and violence against Israelis and Americans, we are left to wonder if among the 450 schools, there are those included who were named (under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority) for those who have orchestrated and/or committed terror attacks on Israelis or those schools who have honorific displays to those involved in terrorism targeted at Israel.
“PMW has found dozens of PA Ministry of Education schools named after terrorists. Names of other schools glorify Martyrdom, and even one is named after a notorious Nazi collaborator and Hitler associate. Children in such schools interviewed on PA TV have explained that studying in schools named after terrorists turned the terrorists into role models for the students who want to ‘reach the level’ of the terrorist their school is named after.”
(from page 11 in the report: “Palestinian Authority Education A Recipe for Hate and Terror,” Palestinian Media Watch)
** Note: On October 24, 2016, I sent a request to the press contact for the NEA (Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs) asking for additional information as to:
- the complete list of participants at the educational dialogue on October 13 and 14 hosted by the Consul General and NEA/PPD Deputy Assistant Secretary (i.e., those from the Palestinian delegation, as well as all U.S. attendees, e.g., representatives from government, education institutions and private sector); and
- Agendas and transcripts/notes from all parts of the dialogue over the course of the two days in question.
On November 29th, I received a response to my request that included the following information:
An interview that the Consul General did:
“On October 13 and 14, the Consul General and NEA/PPD Deputy Assistant Secretary hosted a delegation of nineteen Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza – including Palestinian Minister of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) Dr. Sabri Saidam, various Palestinian university presidents and vice presidents, university administrators, and representatives from the Palestinian private sector – for a U.S.-Palestinian Higher Education Dialogue in Washington, DC. There was also high-level representation from the U.S. government, including the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Press and Public Diplomacy in NEA, Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs and USAID’s Assistant Administrator for the Middle East, as well as representatives from various U.S. tertiary institutions such as the University of Virginia, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Bard College, and Brandeis.”
October 18, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Education Dialogue Enhances Bilateral U.S.-Palestinian Cooperation to Prepare Young Palestinians for the Workforce
JERUSALEM – U.S. and Palestinian officials concluded the first ever U.S.-Palestinian Higher Education Dialogue, an initiative that invests in viable and robust partnerships between American and Palestinian institutions of higher education and the private sector to strengthen institutional capabilities, enhance educational opportunities for young Palestinians, and foster critical workforce skills.
The U.S. delegation included Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Patterson; Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs; Paige Alexander, USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East; and Consul General to Jerusalem Donald Blome. The 19-person Palestinian delegation was led by the Palestinian Minister of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE), Dr. Sabri Saidam, and included university presidents and vice presidents, representatives from the MOEHE, and private sector executives. The Palestinian delegation returned home from the United States over the last two days.
The Dialogue, which is part of a broader U.S. effort to invest in the Palestinian economy and civil society, aims to build sustainable relationships between these universities in which both sides benefit from knowledge transfers and private sector linkages. The decentralized U.S. education model means that U.S. and Palestinian universities can be creative, flexible, and dynamic in the ways they partner. During the Education Dialogue, the U.S. State Department announced three new educational initiatives:
· A $342,000 grant for An Najah University and Northwestern University to launch an apprenticeship program to provide students with the necessary practical training to make them more prepared for the workforce.
A $352,000 grant for Atlas Corps to provide at least 12 young Palestinian businesspeople with one-year internships at U.S. companies.
A USAID grant for AMIDEAST’s Leadership and Teacher Development project to strengthen digital literacy in classrooms and introduce basic software design in 450 Palestinian schools.
The U.S. Consulate General – through its Public Diplomacy Section (PD) and in partnership with the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested more than $30 million dollars in 2016 to support the Palestinian education sector.
S.3414 – Taylor Force Act was introduced by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham on September 28, 2016 and is currently under consideration by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee; this bill proposes to condition U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority on steps by the PA to end violence and terrorism against Israelis and Americans. Among the conditions listed are the stipulations that the Palestinian Authority publicly condemns acts of violence and terrorism against Israeli and U.S. citizens, and that the PA not provide rewards for acts of terrorism.
With the same intention to restrict funding to the PA for rewarding terrorists, this bill should add in specific language that includes a ban on any federal funding to Palestinian schools that are named in honor of those who have orchestrated and/or committed terror attacks on Israelis and those schools who have honorific displays to those involved in terrorism targeted at Israel. This would include, for instance: those schools named after terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, those named after the mastermind of the Munich Olympics terror attack, and a school named after Hamas bomb-builder Nash’at Abu Jabara; this would also include the school with a display venerating the image of suicide bomber Ayat Al-Akhras and described as “the heroic martyr.” See “Chapter 1, PA Ministry of Education schools named after terrorists” (pages 11-14) in the report: “Palestinian Authority Education A Recipe for Hate and Terror,” Palestinian Media Watch for a list of schools the PA Ministry of Education named after terrorists and for others whose names are intended to glorify martyrdom.
Such public esteem for those who commit acts of violence and terror is meant to inspire future Palestinians to follow in their footsteps. U.S. funding should not be going to support actions by the PA that honor rather than condemn acts of terror; we cannot condone the PA’s decisions by providing the schools whose halls consecrate violence and terror against Israel with our federal funding.
On Wednesday, October 26, 2016, “The Israeli Defense Forces … apprehended two Palestinian children carrying knives near the Jewish settlement of Migdal Oz in the West Bank.
The two children were under ten years old and according to the army admitted that they “had been sent to carry out an attack.” The IDF released a video of the two children approaching the settlement.
This one incident should not be considered isolated, but must be taken in light of the bigger picture messages that Palestinian children are receiving — messages that are part of the systemic operations of the Palestinian Authority, including the decisions to name schools after terrorists.
“The Palestinian Authority transmits ideological messages through the names it chooses for its schools and other educational frameworks. Many PA schools are named after terrorists, thereby presenting murderers … as role models for children and youth.”
(from page 11 in the report: “Palestinian Authority Education A Recipe for Hate and Terror,” Palestinian Media Watch)
Moreover, we need to consider the forces that have coalesced which have allowed this twisted indoctrination of Palestinian children to exist and grow. The October 13th and 14th dialogue between the US Department of State and Palestinian representatives included among others the Palestinian Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Sabri Saidam as part of the Palestinian delegation. Dr. Saidam’s previous role was as an advisor to Mahmoud Abbas. From Dr. Saidam’s appearance on PA TV in 2012:
“‘There must be preparation in our schools, our institutions … our curricula. They must implant and support Palestinian memory and sustain [our] collective ideology.’ He then mentioned by name of terrorist Abu Ali Iyad, a terrorist responsible for several bombing attacks, emphasizing that he ‘be remembered’ by ‘every young lion cub’ – i.e., young Palestinians. [Official PA TV, July 25, 2012]”
(from page 29-30 in the report: “Palestinian Authority Education A Recipe for Hate and Terror,” Palestinian Media Watch)
Further, in his current role of as the Minister of Education for the Palestinian Authority –the “‘Naming or changing the names of schools is under the authority of the Minister'” — he bristled at a request that the PA change the name of a school named after a former leader of the PLO who incited and orchestrated terrorist activities against Israel; in response to the request, the Ministry issued a press release on August 25, 2015 stating:
“‘The Ministry, which names its schools after one of the Martyrs (Shahids) at the beginning of the school year, did not and will not agree to change the name of a school named after a Martyr as prominent as Ghassan Kanafani.”
(reference the press release cited here)
Also among the visitors to the State Department dialogue were representatives of the Palestinian Universities: Palestine Technical University Khadouri, Al Quds University, Abu Dis, Birzeit University, Bethlehem University, Palestine Ahliyeh University College, Arab American University in Jenin, An-Najah University. As PML notes in their report, the indoctrination that glorifies terror is infused from bottom-to-top — throughout a Palestinian child’s entire educational experience:
“Palestinian universities also present terrorists as role models by naming events after them. AlQuds University honored Hamas terrorist Ibrahim Al-Akari, just four days after his terror attack in Jerusalem on Nov. 5, 2014, killing two and injuring at least 13 …
The Palestine Polytechnic University, in cooperation with the Dean of Students Affairs, held a tournament named after terrorist Marwan Zalum. Zalum provided the bomb used in a suicide attack at Jerusalem’s open market on April 12, 2002, which killed 6 and wounded 80. He also sent a sniper who shot and killed an infant in her stroller on March 26, 2001, and was involved in many other terror attacks as well. Student Union Council Chairman Baher Abu Ras explained ‘that the council named the tournament after Martyr Marwan Zalum because of the love and devotion to Palestinian society … and also because of the national unity he embodied in his life and after his Martyrdom-death.’ [Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 4, 2013]
The Al-Quds University Institute of Modern Media named teams in a tournament after a series of terrorists, including Yahya Ayyash, the first Hamas suicide bomb builder and planner, known as ‘the Engineer.’ He is considered the founder of Palestinian suicide terror, and was behind attacks killing dozens of Israelis and injuring hundreds. Another team was named after Dalal Mughrabi, who … led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history, killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children. [Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, Oct. 25, 2013]”
(from page 25 in the report: “Palestinian Authority Education A Recipe for Hate and Terror,” Palestinian Media Watch)
Remember when USAID funded curriculum to indoctrinate Afghan children during the Cold War?
“…the 1980s USAID, in a spate of cold-war fervour, supported the publication of millions of hot-blooded textbooks for Afghan children. That American-sponsored curriculum, published with the University of Nebraska, tried to teach schoolchildren the basics of counting with illustrations featuring tanks, missiles and land mines. Those children have long since come of fighting age, so to speak.”
With all of the funding that USAID is pouring into schools run by the Palestinian Authority … with all we know about how the Palestinian Authority is indoctrinating children in their schools named for terrorists … their teachings that glorify martyrdom and anti-Israel sentiment … with all we know, should we also not know exactly what our U.S. funding is going to support? Children are coming to fighting age already. It’s time to do some digging. And fortunately, there are those who have been.
From “Israel and Jews in the newest Palestinian Authority (PA) Schoolbooks taught in PA and UNRWA schools: De-legitimization, Demonization, Advocacy of Violent Struggle rather than Peace, of Jihad, Martyrdom and the Right of Return” – Israel Resource Review by David Bedein (January 20, 2016):
“A representative of the US State Department met with our center in July, 2015 and assured our staff that the new Palestinian Authority school books, used by the PA and UNRWA schools, would be devoid of incitement and that the new texts would also conform to standards of peace education. Our center therefore hired a team to purchase and translate the new Palestinian Authority textbooks, to discern if the new school books published by the PA are devoid of incitement and conform with standards of peace education …
Between the years 2000-2006 the PA introduced a new curriculum to be taught in all schools in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in schools in East Jerusalem. Over 250 books for grades 1-12 in various subjects were published within a project partly financed by European countries. The books are continuously reprinted with some changes, but the fundamentals regarding Israel and the Jews have not been altered: delegitimization of both Israel and of the Jews’ very presence in the country, demonization of Israel and the Jews, non-advocacy of a peaceful solution to the conflict and, instead, emphasis on a violent struggle for the liberation of Palestine without limiting it to the areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Jihad, martyrdom and the so-called ‘Right of Return’ are part and parcel of that violent struggle.”
In response to the discovery of the US-government-approved textbooks, StandWithUs recently began a petition to demand “that the United States remove from its ‘approved’ list some 240 Palestinian Authority school textbooks used in hundreds of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)-sponsored schools.” ** Please click here to sign the petition.
The work that such organizations are doing to uncover such hateful and inciteful material and to demand accountability on the part of those responsible for funding it is critically important. Our representatives in Congress who are sincere in their efforts to introduce legislation that will put an end to our complicity in such things should be given our support.
Let us also consider this: that these materials — and the hateful, inciteful ideas they propagate — have been sanctioned for at least over a decade now … and over the course of administrations representing both parties. Whether such approval has been the effect of willful or indifferent complicity on the part of those calling the shots doesn’t particularly matter. We can choose to wait with bated breath wondering what the new administration will bring for the future Israeli-Palestinian conflict … again. Or start to ask if “peace” was ever really the goal for our leaders, whichever party they belonged to. The coveted legacy of “final peacemaker” has become each President’s “shot at the brass ring,” and we’ve all let ourselves be taken for repeated rides as they grasp for it … their means always justifying the elusive end. Isn’t it time to make our focus our children — and other people’s children — and not the newest man-child grabbing for the prize in the latest State Department spin?
After awhile of engaging in the larger Israel-Palestinian dialogue, you come to anticipate the go-to counter-arguments to these things. One such side-step was used by none other than the Minister of Education for the Palestinian Authority himself when he was confronted with questions about Palestinian schools being named after those who had murdered Israeli civilians. Dr. Saidam said “that one man’s hero is another man’s terrorist.” And it’s sadly common to hear this distorted moral equivalency being applied by a certain type of incensed ideologue who take every opportunity to paint Israel as the “neighborhood bully” — and conveniently avoids any critique at all of the Palestinian leadership.
The thing is though: they’re wrong. They are wrong about Israel. And they are wrong for pretending that their political positioning isn’t that something more insidious. And their twisting of the very definition of “human rights” — so that it no longer resembles anything to do with the idea of human rights — is wrong:
“Name a single country in the history of the world, faced with threats comparable to those faced by Israel who has ever had a better record of human rights, a better record of concern for civilians, a better record of sensitivity toward legal issues and the rule of law…Why have there been more resolutions directed toward the best country than the worst countries? That doesn’t reflect on Israel. That reflects on the sorry nature of human rights in the world today … Human rights should be a reaction to human wrongs…and what we’ve seen is the human rights agenda has been hijacked by those who perpetuate human wrongs.”
It gets harder and harder to believe that those who are leading our country are that much different than those we want to believe reside only on the fringe. We’ve taken a sharp-turn toward down the wrong side of history in so many ways — but by allowing ourselves to be steered by leaders who’ve tossed aside their moral compass, we can’t pretend that we would have ended up heading anywhere but in the wrong direction. To pretend that the Israeli-Palestinian issue exists in some kind of foreign policy Bermuda Triangle on the world map is not only laughably ignorant … it also exposes that certain type of scapegoating that’s been the go-to play for far long before this chapter in history began.