If Palestinians Demonize Israel for Oppressing Them, Why Do Nearly ALL Muslims Demonize Non-Muslims?

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Indoctrinating Palestinian schoolchildren to hate and oppose the existence of Israel is rife, a recent study found after examining nearly 400 textbooks and over 100 teachers’ guides issued by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Education between 2013 and 2020.

According to its author, Dr. Arnon Groiss of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, there are three aspects to this education:

[1] De-legitimization of the State of Israel’s existence and the very presence of Jews in the Land of Israel, including the denial of the existence of Jewish holy places in the Land of Israel; [2] demonization of Israel and the Jews: “The Zionist enemy,[“] according to the description appearing in the schoolbooks, is wholly evil and constitutes an existential threat to the Palestinians who are depicted as the ultimate victim, with no shared responsibility for the conflict; and [3] education for a violent struggle for the liberation of the Land of Israel (Palestine) with no education for peace and co-existence. In none of the PA’s schoolbooks has any call for the resolution of the conflict peacefully, or any mentioning of co-existence with Israel been found.

A distinctly religious element further permeates if not dominates Palestinian views of Israel. According to an earlier report on this topic, also by Groiss, “Jews are demonized as well in the religious context, outside the context of the conflict. They are depicted as a corrupted nation from its very beginning and as enemies of Islam since its early days.”

Citing the Koran and other Islamic scriptures, Palestinian textbooks teach that “The corruption of the Children of Israel on earth was and will be the reason of their destruction”; and, though allied to them, Muhammad “was aware of the Jews’ deceitfulness and conspiracies.”

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Moreover, “Islamic traditional ideals of Jihad and martyrdom are exalted and given a special role in the liberation struggle. In fact, there is one language exercise that specifically encourages martyrdom.”

While indoctrinating Palestinian schoolchildren to hate Jews may seem specific to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–that is, may appear to be a product of politics and grievances–it is, in fact, part of a broader trend: school textbooks in a variety of other Muslim nations also teach hate for the “other”–even those who, far from being in a position to “oppress” Muslims are actually being oppressed by them.

For instance, in 2018, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a statement saying that it “is disappointed to find inflammatory content in Saudi textbooks that was previously thought to have been removed.” The commission “uncovered content promoting violence and hatred toward religious minorities and others,” often in connection to the Islamic doctrine of “loyalty and enmity,” which, based on the Koran (e.g., 60:4), requires Muslims to love what Allah loves and hate what Allah hates–which includes “infidels,” non-Muslims.

A separate report published by Human Rights Watch in 2017 touched on the indoctrination process: “As early as first grade, students in Saudi schools are being taught hatred toward all those perceived to be of a different faith or school of thought… The lessons in hate are reinforced with each following year.” Further troubling is that such hate-filled texts are not limited to Saudi schools but continue to be widely disseminated to madrasas throughout the world, including the U.S.

Schools in Pakistan also continue to “teach their children to hate Christians and other religious minorities,” a 2017 report found:

[I]nstead of minimizing hate materials and discouraging religious extremism [as the government had vowed to do after a particularly lethal Islamic terror attack on a school killed 132 students in 2014], the opposite seems to be occurring with a growing trend toward a more biased curriculum and more religious extremism being taught in Pakistan’s public schools.

Speaking in 2019, a Pakistani Christian leader said that religious “minorities are considered infidels and they are depicted negatively in textbooks, which promote prejudices against minorities.” Because of this:

Many minorities give their children Islamic names so they will not be singled out as Christians and become potential targets for discrimination in primary or secondary schools or at the college level…. In many cases, minority students do suffer abuse in public schools.

School textbooks in Turkey also demonize non-Muslims. Speaking of her experiences, a former Muslim woman who converted to Christianity explained how “her opinion of Christians was very low because of the things she and others were taught to believe about Christians in a Muslim society.” According to the convert, who now lives in the U.S. and goes by the pseudonym Derya Little, “An anti-Christian attitude is a big part of the national identity, so anyone or anything that promotes Christianity is automatically suspicious.”

School textbooks taught her that “it was the Christians who wanted to plunder the lands and the riches of the Muslim world” and Turks merely responded by “defend[ing] what was rightfully theirs.” (In reality, modern-day Turkey consists of territory that was Christian for more than a millennium before being brutally conquered in the name of jihad.)

“Everything is used to make the Christians look like villains,” she said, adding, “It’s the same all through Muslim countries.”

And that is the point. If Palestinian schoolchildren are being indoctrinated to hate Israel and Jews for “stealing their land” and generally oppressing them, what explains the fact that other children all throughout the Islamic world are also being indoctrinated to hate other non-Muslims, particularly disenfranchised Christian minorities who, far from “lording” over Muslims, are currently being persecuted by them?

The answer–Islam’s ingrained sense of supremacism and hate for “the other”–should be self-evident.

Indeed, hate for disempowered religious minorities actually helps explain why Israel is so reviled. If, as Muslim children are taught, infidels must always be at their feet–“Muslims are Jerusalem’s masters and no voice shall be higher than their voice [there],” Palestinian texts teach–surely only militant outrage will remain whenever Muslims find themselves under “infidel” authority.

Raymond Ibrahim, author of Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

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