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The Human Cost of Classroom Incitement

On October 7, the Jewish Shabbat and annual festival of Simchat Torah, thousands of Hamas terrorists breached the Gaza strip border with Israel, and perpetrated the greatest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. – writes Marcus Sheff ,CEO of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education .

Hamas terrorists employed ISIS-like tactics, going house-to-house, taking babies from the arms of mothers and executing them, kidnapping old and young and taking them to fates we cannot even imagine. Youngsters at a music festival were mown down, raped, and their bodies mutilated and paraded in Gaza.  A reported 150 civilians have been taken hostage in the Gaza Strip, including American and European citizens.

Israeli intelligence appears to have been similarly surprised, not expecting the attack, despite warnings reportedly having been received in advance. We, at The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), were far from surprised, however, having seen the writing on the wall and warned extensively about the danger of incitement stemming from Palestinian school curriculum.

Palestinian textbooks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have, for years, been indoctrinating Palestinian society to hate, inciting generations of Palestinian children to extreme forms of violence. We are not talking about nuance or interpretation; rather, plain black-and-white examples of material taught in school encouraging the most violent forms of action against Jews. What we saw on Saturday was the inevitable result of the years of indoctrination in a violent and hate-filled curriculum, written and taught by teachers funded by the international community.


Textbooks play a key role in the cultural formation of children and dictate the nature of our societies of the future, for good and unfortunately, for bad. IMPACT-se has been drawing the international community’s attention, for years, to the reality that schools in Gaza and the West Bank (including those run by the UN agency, UNRWA) teach children that Jihad, or sacrificing oneself in holy war against Israel, is an obligation and something to be admired.

Jews and Israelis are further portrayed as people who must be completely eradicated. And not through political means. Rather the most violent of tactics are encouraged, including some of which were directly employed on the fateful Saturday that saw almost 1,500 Israelis massacred by violent Hamas terrorists. Among these can be counted textbooks which encourage slitting the throats of “Jewish infidels”, immolating Jews which in some textbooks is horrifically portrayed to students as a barbecue and murdering Jews using any means possible, with dead Jews, in more than one textbook, being used as an appropriate way to teach maths.

IMPACT-se raised the alarm time and time again, with demands for change to the hate-teaching of 1.3 million Palestinian school children. The EU Parliament has over the past few years taken a stand against violence and incitement in Palestinian textbooks, passing condemnation after condemnation. European Union neighbourhood commissioner Olivér Várhelyi has been crystal clear in opposing EU funding of the hate teaching of Palestinian children.

European member states have been far from firm enough in their stances. These donor states need to emphatically state that incitement to violence and encouraging the murder of Jews has absolutely no place in an EU or UN funded classroom (or any classroom at all for that matter). Instead, they chose to commission a deeply flawed report that would allow them to continue to pump their tax dollars into an educational system that results in the massacre of Jews.  

While European Union neighbourhood commissioner Olivér Várhelyi bravely took a firm stance on the issue, announcing a freeze on funds, many donor states, including France, Ireland, Spain and Luxembourg instead expressed concern over a freeze of funding what is hare education. Despite the examples we have been warning about for years playing out this past Saturday in plain black-and-white, many EU officials continue to ignore the problem.

1,500 Israelis have paid the ultimate price for inaction. Let’s stop the next massacre of Jews by saying no, loud and clear to EU-funded hate indoctrination, and acting to make it happen. We have all the evidence we need. Words and condemnations are clearly no longer enough.

Marcus Sheff is CEO of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se)


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