‘Slow improvement’ in Qatar school textbooks with removal of antisemitic passages
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‘Slow improvement’ in Qatar school textbooks with removal of antisemitic passages

IMPACT-se’s latest report says problematic sections relating to praise of violence, hatred of Jews and “jihad” martyrdom were taken out

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Textbook
(Photo by Valentin Salja on Unsplash)
Textbook (Photo by Valentin Salja on Unsplash)

An Israeli monitoring group has declared “a slow improvement” in the content of school textbooks in Qatar, with the removal of some problematic passages relating to praise of violence, hatred of Jews and “jihad” martyrdom.

But IMPACT-se’s latest report, a follow-up to its reports of June this year and August 2020, shows that there are still issues with some textbooks which still retain “passages that demonise Jews, praise martyrdom and blame holy faiths for corrupting holy texts”.

The US State Department presented IMPACT-se’s August 2020 report to the Qatari government on December 15, 2020 in Doha and discussed its findings with senior officials in the foreign and education ministries. The report cited IMPACT-se findings of Jew hatred and extremist messages as a central problem in the Qatari curriculum.

Since then, the Israeli group says, Qatar’s books have improved, with some adjustments made toward moderation including adding lessons on tolerance and racial discrimination, indicating reforms.

“The recent year-on-year gradual improvements are encouraging and certainly suggest a willingness for further positive change in upcoming Qatari textbook revisions. There is, however, a great deal of room for improvement and these updated editions still contain numerous passages that teach hateful antisemitic misinformation and myths”.

Marcus Sheff, the British-born chief executive of IMPACT-se, said” “
“Qatar’s textbooks have improved somewhat since our review of last year’s autumn term. That report unearthed teaching material in Qatari textbooks that was offering stiff competition to Iran and the Palestinian Authority in producing the most antisemitic and hate-filled textbooks in the Middle East. We are now seeing change and recent improvements are to be commended but there is quite a long way to go. IMPACT-se will continue to work for positive change to the Qatari curriculum.”

Qatar makes several improvements to 2021 textbooks:new IMPACT-se report

•          New IMPACT-se research on changes made in Qatari textbooks shows continuing trend of slow improvement

•          Textbooks remove or moderate problematic passages including antisemitic tropes, messages supporting violence, and praise for Jihad, all detailed in IMPACT-se’s previous report

•          Passages that demonize Jews, praise martyrdom, and blame holy faiths for corrupting holy texts remain

•          US State Department presented IMPACT-se’s previous report to the Qatari government

•          Changes are suggestive of positive movement. However, a great deal of improvement is necessary to align the curriculum with international standards

_________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Arik Agassi +972-545517376

 

Dear Jenni,

 

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) has released a new report evaluating changes made in Qatari fall semester textbooks for 2021-22 as compared to last year’s editions. IMPACT-se is a research and policy institute that analyzes education to encourage standards of peace and tolerance as derived from UNESCO guidelines and international declarations and presents policy recommendations to decision-makers.

 

The report provides a comprehensive picture of Qatar’s textbooks this school year, including what has changed, what has not, and what remains to be determined.

 

The report found that the Qatari curriculum continues in the direction of positive change, since our reports in August 2020 and June 2021, by removing additional disturbing and unacceptable passages previously criticized in IMPACT-se’s reports. The curriculum cannot be said to meet UNESCO standards.

 

The full report can be found here. Examples of remaining and removed problematic content are listed below.

 

 

Collage of 2021-22 fall edition Qatari textbooks

 

The US State Department presented IMPACT-se’s August 2020 report to the Qatari government on December 15, 2020 in Doha and discussed its findings with senior officials in the foreign and education ministries according to its report on International Religious Freedoms for 2020. The report cited IMPACT-se findings of Jew hatred and extremist messages as a central problem in the Qatari curriculum.

 

Since then, Qatar’s books have improved, with some adjustments made toward moderation including adding lessons on tolerance and racial discrimination, signalling reforms. The recent year-on-year gradual improvements are encouraging and certainly suggest a willingness for further positive change in upcoming Qatari textbook revisions. There is, however, a great deal of room for improvementand these updated editions still contain numerous passages that teach hateful antisemitic misinformation and myths.

 

Said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff,

“Qatar’s textbooks have improved somewhat since our review of last years’ fall semester. That report unearthed teaching material in Qatari textbooks that was offering stiff competition to Iran and the Palestinian Authority in producing the most antisemitic and hate-filled textbooks in the Middle East. We are now seeing change and recent improvements are to be commended but there is quite a long way to go. IMPACT-se will continue to work for positive change to the Qatari curriculum.”

 

This report includes examples of remaining problematic content in textbooks already published for the current school year as well as an appendix of problematic passages that need to be removed from Qatar’s upcoming spring 2022 textbooks which have not yet been released and will be evaluated by IMPACT-se when they become available.

 

Most notably, a significant finding of this report is the removal of a highly problematic Grade 11 Social Studies textbook used until 2020 but confirmed this year by IMPACT-se to no longer be taught. It included a large amount of the unacceptable content flagged in IMPACT-se’s previous report such as antisemitic tropes including that Jews run the global economy and are to blame for the rise of the Nazi Party by manipulating financial markets and creating wealth for themselves. Also removed was the glorifying of Hamas’s rocket attacks into Israeli civilian populations during the Gaza war of 2014 and characterizing the stopping of airplane traffic to and from Israel as “brave” and “remarkable”. Some cases of praising modern-day jihadists and describing jihad as the “peak” of Islam, were also removed.

 

Still, a call not to resemble the Jews who are hedonistic and believe they are supreme remain. Jews are still blamed for preferring life over death. Jews are taught to be the cause for Germany’s defeat in WW1. Praise for jihad and martyrdom remains as well. Examples criticizing infidels and polytheists, with one describing Christianization as a threat, remain. Other textbooks continue to foment hatred toward Israel, reject Arab-Israeli peacemaking and normalization, deny Israel’s existence on maps and include passages that contradict Qatar’s stated policy in support of a two-state solution.

 

Through a comparison to last years’ fall semester textbooks, this review found that three of the problematic examples presented in relation to Jews and antisemitic tropes – including that Jews are inherently treacherous, kill prophets, lie, and have bad morals – were removed, while six remained. In relation to the presentation of jihad, two problematic examples were toned down, while six were left. In problematic descriptions of Israel and Zionism, two examples were removed while the other 7 remain. In the case of discussion about infidels and polytheists, two examples were removed and 11 remain.

 

The report includes a Forward by David Weinberg, Ph.D., Washington Director for International Affairs at the ADL and a leading expert on state-enabled hate speech in Middle East education and a Preface by Eldad Pardo, Ph.D., Research Director at IMPACT-se.

 

Selected examples of material removed and alteredinclude:

•          A passage blaming the Jews for lying, having bad morals and murdering prophets – Islamic Education, Grade 7, Vol. 1, 2020-2021, pp. 129–30, 134.

•          A “useable lesson” teaching that “treachery and treason are among the traits of the Jews” – Islamic – Islamic Education, Grade 7, Vol. 1, 2020-2021, pp. 74, 77, 81.

•          Texts including antisemitic tropes, such as Jewish global domination and Jews bearing responsibility for the rise of the Nazi party – Social Studies, Grade 11, Vol. 2 (Advanced), 2017-2018, p. 14., pp. 95, 114., pp. 25–26.

•          An Arabic language exercise teaching grammar by using a Qur’anic verse which discusses extreme violence towards Jews and Christians – Arabic Language, Grade 12, Vol. 1, 2020-2021, p. 148.

•          Particularly problematic examples regarding Israel including Palestinian poetry that emphasizes violent themes of struggle, sacrifice, liberation of holy places and protecting Palestine “whether in life or death.” – Arabic Language, Grade 12, Vol. 1, 2020-2021, pp. 194, 196.

•          Glorifying Hamas’s rocket attacks into Israeli civilian populations and stopping airplane traffic to and from Israel as “brave” and “remarkable” during the Gaza war of 2014- Social Studies, Grade 11, Vol. 2 (Advanced), 2017-2018, p. 32.

•          A quote celebrating and glorifying the inevitability of death and martyrdom was replaced in 2021 with a Qur’anic verse about Muhammad being sent to mankind as a “deliverer of good news and a warner.” – Islamic Education, Grade 8, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, pp. 76, 78.

•          A passage referring to jihad as “the peak” of Islam – Arabic Language, Grade 12, Vol. 2 (Advanced), 2017-2018, p. 7.

•          A passage discussing Martyrdom and jihad, and particularly Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the founder of the jihadimovement, after whom the Hamas military wing is named, where he is glorified as a symbol of determination and courage – Social Studies, Grade 11, Vol. 2 (Advanced), 2017-2018, pp. 16–17.

Selected examples of remaining problematic content include:

•          A call not to resemble the Jews and other theological attacks – Islamic Education, Grade 10, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, pp. 18–19.

•          Rejection of Arab-Israeli peacemaking and normalization – Islamic Education, Grade 11, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, p. 147.

•          Thirteen-year-old students are encouraged to follow in Muhammad’s footsteps and perform jihad, including an exercise asking to what degree they will follow Muhammad’s steadfastness and jihad (Always/sometimes/rarely)? – Islamic Education, Grade 7, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, pp. 76, 84.

•          Jews are not indigenous to the land of Israel and have no real rights to the land – Islamic Education, Grade 11, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, pp. 144–145.

•          Jihad’s “sublime purpose” is for the sake of conversion of non-believers, and if they will not join Islam, they must be conquered – Islamic Education, Grade 8, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, pp. 72–73.

•          A grammar exercise instructs students that all infidels will be sent to hellfire – Arabic Language, Grade 12, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, p. 91.

•          Israel is removed from maps taught with the entire land being titled ‘Palestine’ – Social Studies, Grade 5, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, p. 26.

•          Cities in Israel proper such as Tel-Aviv are presented as being located in “Occupied Palestine” – History, Grade 12, Vol. 2, 2020-2021, pp. 42-43.

•          Israel is taught as an evil aggressor that must be confronted and stopped at all costs – Islamic Education, Grade 11, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, p. 147.

•          An entire chapter on polytheism and it being wrong or even resulting in eternity in Hell – Islamic Education, Grade 9, Vol. 1, 2021-2022, pp. 55-57.

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