Biased From A To Z: The Palestinian-Israeli Textbook Caper (Part 1)

UPDATES 6 pm Israel time Tuesday:

*The festivities are continuing as Israel’s newest Knesset has just been sworn in. There is still no word on progress toward forming a coalition.

*The Palestinian terrorist assault on Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria continues with attempted stabbings in Jerusalem and Hebron yesterday–and “rock” throwing near Bethany this afternoon.


Yesterday, amidst great fanfare in Jerusalem, a report entitled “Victims of Our Own Narratives? Portrayal of the ‘Other” in Israeli and Palestinian School Books” was released.

The result of a three year project funded by a grant from the U.S. State Department, the “research” was conducted by a team consisting of a lead American professor, Bruce Wexler of Yale University, and two primary researchers: Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University and Sami Adwan of Bethlehem University.

The ostensible purpose of the project was to discover how Israeli textbooks describe “Palestine” and Palestinians, and how Palestinian textbooks describe Israel and Israelis. Yet, as was evident from its inception, this was not the real mission of the project at all–its actual purpose is to undermine the fact that Palestinian textbooks continually incite Palestinian students to hate and demonize Israelis.

What is being reported in the international news media as the most “scientific” study of Palestinian and Israeli textbooks ever undertaken is, in reality, one of the most biased, anti-Israel pieces of  fraudulent research ever reported.  While the media has gone to great lengths to portray the authors of the study as “objective” and “academic”, the reality is that each of the authors has demonstrated anti-Israel bias through their careers.    

It was a bias on full display yesterday.

In response to Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s statement that the report’s “attempt to create a parallel between the Israeli and Palestinian educational systems is without any foundation whatsoever and has no basis in reality”, Professor Wexler responded with an extraordinarily non-academic and non-objective ad hominem attack on Sa’ar:

“[The Minister of Education] cannot see beyond the blinders that have come into his mind by developing as a product of a national narrative that can’t understand the types of things we’re talking about here, and by the way, national leaders who have those blind spots, like he does, make for poor and dangerous national leaders.” 

Excuse me? Are these the comments of a person of supposedly “neutral outlook”?

To fully understand the fraud of this study, your humble servant would like to walk you back today to its inception–and tomorrow discuss its methodology and findings.

Back in 2006, Wexler, a Jewish psychologist at Yale, wrote a book theorizing that events that occur in a child’s youth lead that child to rigid views as an adult. Wexler then extrapolated that this was also the problem with Israel, namely that Israel as a country and Israelis as a people are beset by a rigidly negative view of the Palestinians because of the experiences each had in their youth.

Wexler proceeded to set up an NGO called “A Different Future” to help “moderate majorities reclaim the public idea space and regain control over the policy agenda”. In other words, Wexler’s thesis was (and is) that the policy agenda of Israel has been hijacked by extremists.

Fast forward to 2009. The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL), a self-described “Jerusalem-based consortium of senior Islamic, Jewish, and Christian religious figures in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories” decided to commission a study of Palestinian and Israeli textbooks. They immediately were attracted to Wexler and chose him to direct the “study”.

Wexler then applied for a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Affairs–which administers a $4 million dollar fund for “religious freedom”. The State Department Bureau awarded Wexler a $500,000 grant.

Armed with the grant, Wexler then sought out two head researchers, Daniel Bar Tal of Tel Aviv University and Sami Adwan of Bethlehem University.  

Bar Tal, supposedly on board to represent Israeli interests, has a long history of anti-Israel actions under his belt ranging from signing petitions condemning “the Israeli right wing” to writing articles and books condemning Zionism: 

” . . . holding such a Zionist narrative serves as an obstacle to peace since it promotes negative emotions, mistrust, de-legitimization and negative stereotypes of Arabs and Palestinians . . . “Israeli Jews’ consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering . . .”

For his part, Adwan has expressed on numerous occasions that he has no problem working with Israelis as long as they are not part of the machinery of “occupation.”

Wexler also created a Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) consisting of 22 academics who had each already studied Israeli and/or Palestinian academic textbooks in one form or another. One of the main purposes of SAP was to have been to “review and critique” the textbook report before it was released yesterday.

More on that tomorrow with Part 2 of Biased From A To Z: The Palestinian-Israeli Textbook Caper


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This entry was posted in News and tagged a different future, a to z, academic, ad hominem, anti-Israel, assault, bethany, bethlehem university, biased, blind spots, bruce wexler, bureau of democracy human rights labor affairs, caper, coalition, condemn, consortium, council of religious institutions of the holy land, daniel bar tal, demonize, festivities, fraudulent, gideon saar, grant, hate, hijacked by extremists, incite, insensitivity, Israel, israelis, isreal, Jerusalem, Judea, Knesset, machinery, national narrative, ngo, no basis in reality, objective, occupation, ostensible, palestine, Palestinian, palestinian textbooks, poor and dangerous, religious freedom, research, rocks, Samaria, sami adwan, scientific advisory panel, stereotypes, students, suffering, sworn in, tel aviv university, terrorist, textbook, us state department, victimization, victims of our own narratives, yale, Zionism. Bookmark the permalink.

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