A cross-party group of more than twenty MEPs from fifteen countries have requested that the European Union withholds future funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until antisemitic incitement is removed from its school textbooks.
Austrian MEP Lukas Mandl sent the letter on Wednesday to the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Neighbourhood Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi. The recent move by the MEPs follows the publication of a report into the content of PA textbooks by the research body, IMPACT-se.
The report outlined the inclusion of antisemitic rhetoric and imagery, as well as incitement to violence and hate speech, across all subjects and levels of education in the texts and other cultural mediums including school plays and sporting events. The legislators stated that these textbooks are taught by teachers and education sector civil servants who are financed through the EU’s PEGASE system of support. The PA has also attracted controversy for naming around 28 schools after terrorists and at least three schools after Nazi collaborators. This, the MEPs argued in their open letter, is in direct violation of the UNESCO standards for peace and tolerance.
Legislators from four major political parties have made a further call for the discontinuation of the collaboration between the EU Commission and the Georg Eckert Institute. The German organisation was asked in 2019 to analyse PA textbooks, however a subsequent presentation of its interim report has uncovered a series of alleged professional errors. For example, the report had reportedly made multiple Arabic translation errors, demonstrated a miscomprehension of local culture and mistakenly included – and complimented – Israeli textbooks that were wrongly understood by researchers as being PA textbooks. It has been argued by Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee Niclas Herbst that this research blatantly ignored overt antisemitism and justified messages of terror.
The report cost the EU approximately €220,000.
In 2018 and May 2019 the European Parliament condemned the failings of the PA and insisted that it no longer wanted “European taxpayers to finance the teaching of antisemitism.” Earlier this year the Norwegian Government, another major donor to the PA, announced that it would withhold half of its funding to the PA’s education sector.
Despite commitments made by the PA’s Education Minister, a recent IMPACT-se report on the revised 2020-21 PA textbooks discovered that there had been almost no relevant changes made to the curriculum.
MEPs have requested that the Commission put a 5% reserve on funding for the PA until changes to the antisemitic material are evident in all educational texts.