Thursday, December 23, 2004

Colour Me Unconvinced

A friend has drawn my attention to this article in the International Herald Tribune, in which a case is made that incitement is not a problem within the Palestinian Authority education system.

Given various time constraints I am not in a position to follow up on the various sources referred to in the article, so I don't feel able to conclusively dismiss it, but I think I may as well say straight away that what the author has to say flies in the face of a not insubstantial body of research that has appeared in the leading (peer reviewed) academic journal dealing with terrorism, Terrorism and Political Violence. Certainly my experience points to quite the opposite of what the article alleges. I also have to say that I am surprised to see the author cite the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace in support of his thesis, given that an article appeared by one of the Institute's researchers in the Spring 2003 edition of T&PV (Vol. 15, No. 1) entitled "Education, Indoctrination and Incitement: Palestinian Children on Their Way to Martyrdom" in which it was argued in a manner that appeared to me both well sourced (one presumes the extremely high powered editorial board thought so too) and pretty conclusive that the Palestinian Authority systematically indulges in anti-semitic indoctrination and incitement of the most rancid variety through the Palestinian education system, using not only textbooks but videos and educational TV programming and that the Palestinians have been in consistent violation of the non-incitement committments they undertook in order to receive aid from, among others, the EU. On a more circumstantial note, a television documentary prepared by British journalist David Aaronovitch (hardly a rabid pro-Sharon partisan) recorded film footage of alarming anti-semitic indoctrination in Palestinian schools.

Perhaps all this is "taken out of context" and really is perfectly innocent. Just as we are constantly told that exhortations by various "well respected" Islamic scholars and "community leaders" on the legitimacy of beating your wife or the social desirability of throwing gays off cliffs are being taken out of context. But unless the research has been systematically gerrymandered and falsified I am at a loss as to quite what the correct context could be.

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