The European Union has reportedly put a stop to €214million of annual aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) following concerns about antisemitic materials in PA textbooks.
Oliver Varhelyi, Hungary’s EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, suggested that any aid received by the PA come on the condition that “antisemitism and incitement” are removed from educational material used by PA schools. Mr Varhelyi has a record of concern on this issue.
It has been reported that the blocking of the funds was spurred by the publication of a 200-page report by the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in 2021, which cited numerous examples of exhortation to violence against, and demonisation of, Jews and Israelis.
One religious studies textbook reportedly requires students to inquire into “repeated attempts by the Jews to kill the prophet [Muhammad].” Another textbook makes a connection between Safiyya bint Abd al-Muttalib, aunt and companion of the Prophet Muhammad – who, according to both Quranic and biographical sources, beat a Jew to death with a club during the Battle of the Trench in 627AD – to a question about how relentlessly brave women are when confronted with “Jewish Zionistic occupation.” Beirut-born Dalal Mughrabi, who belonged to the Fatah faction of the PLO, also features in these teaching materials. Ms Mughrabi was involved in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in which she and her associates murdered 38 Israelis, including thirteen children, before being killed by security forces. PA textbooks often refer to her as a feminist icon. Similar examples of incitement are reportedly evident across the curriculum, including in science and mathematics books as well as humanities texts.
The European Parliament has previously raised concerns about antisemitic incitement in PA textbooks as well.
Haaretz reports that the issue is now in the hands of the European Commission, which will make a decision on the future of the funding, since neither Mr Varhelyi’s initial proposal passed nor could a the fourteen-country majority be mustered to overrule.