As I write this, there are two efforts to increase peace taking place. Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are in a nine months process designed to create a breakthrough to peace. Iran and the countries which have imposed sanctions on them for maintaining a nuclear program capable of producing weapons are also trying to create a breakthrough. As of today, both are having problems reaching the desired ends. One reason that these problems are intractable is that the adults appear to be brainwashing the next generation to make the likelihood of peace impossible.
The New York Times published an article recently titled “To Shape Young Palestinians, Hamas Creates Its Own Textbooks”. Akram and Rudoren wrote that the Islamist Hamas movement has replaced the textbooks used by students in Gaza with new ones that do not recognize modern Israel nor do they mention the Oslo Peace Accords, even though it was signed by the Palestine Liberation Front in the 1990s. The books refer to Palestine as stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, making Haifa, Beersheba, Acre, and other cities, Palestinian. “The Jews and the Zionist Movement are not related to Israel, because the sons of Israel are a nation which had been annihilated.”
The Gaza Strip is home to 465,000 students. The UN Relief and Works Agency along with Hamas, runs schools and use the PA curriculum, which is also taught in the West Bank. Hamas has added programs, like a military training elective introduced in high schools that focus on resistance to Israel. In April, Hamas approved a law requiring gender-segregation from age 9 and making criminal any contact between educational institutions and Israel.
Everywhere, the key to the next generation’s readiness to seek at least some peace, requires that the students have an opportunity see “enemies” as multi-faceted – having both good and bad characteristics; that provides a minimum foundation from which trust can slowly be built. Creating textbooks that incite hatred and refuse to recognize the other party’s right to exist, makes seeking peace virtually impossible. Whether it’s the Arab-Israel conflict or any other, all sides owe it to their kids, to have an opportunity to give peace a chance.
What do you think? Share your thoughts.