While in reality Israeli schools are a shining example of institutions that promote peace and tolerance within the Middle East, Arab propaganda is attempting to paint a very different picture from the reality. The Jewish Press cited a study conducted by Emirates News that claimed that Israeli schools teach children to murder Arabs and not to engage in dialogue with the other side. According to the report, Israeli kids from the beginning are “taught the art of war, implanting feelings of nationalism and hatred of Arabs… they want you to bear grudges against the Arabs in order not to tremble your hands when you press the button on the drone.”
Emirate News reported that Israeli children are also supposedly taught that the Talmud teaches “whoever kills a Muslim or a Christian or pagan is rewarded with eternity in paradise and will dwell in the fourth Paradise.” They claim that Israeli children learn in school that Arabs are “backward and decadent.” The article also says, “It is worth mentioning that it is forbidden to utter the word ‘Arab’ in the schools, instead replacing it with ‘the demographic threat.’”
None of these depictions in the Emirates News article reflect the truth. According to a report titled “Peace, Tolerance and the Palestinian Other in Israeli Textbooks” that was published by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, a non-profit research institute dedicated to promoting peace-making between peoples, Israeli school textbooks a) do not incite violence or demonize Palestinians; b) teach the Palestinian point of view as part of the curriculum; c) attempt to teach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an objective manner; d) recognize the Palestinian people and identity; e) acknowledge Palestinian religious affinity to places within Israel; and f) consider peace to be the ideal goal and objective.
This study, which included 149 school textbooks that were approved by the Israeli Ministry of Education for children in grades 1-12 show that Israel is truly committed to peace and demonstrate beyond a responsible doubt that Israel respects Arab customs, beliefs and traditions. The report furthermore asserts that Israel educates her children that peace is desirable and possible, even if it is difficult to achieve. The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education noted that Israel continued to teach her children to support peace, despite the deterioration in Palestinian-Israeli relations over the past decade.
An example of Israeli peace education can be found in a textbook titled Knowing History—Nationality in Israel and the People: Building a State in the Middle East. In this textbook, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is quoted as stating, “We, the soldiers who have returned from battles stained with blood. We who have seen our relatives and friends killed before our eyes. We, who have fought against you, the Palestinians; we say to you today, in a loud and clear voice: Enough of blood and tears! Enough! We have no desire for revenge. We harbor no hatred towards you. We, like you, are people who want to build a home, to plant a tree, to love, to live side by side with you in dignity, in empathy as human beings, as free men. We are today giving peace a chance and saying again to you: Enough!”
Contrary to assertions made in the Emirates News, neither the Talmud nor the Israeli educational system endorses murdering Christians, Muslims, and pagans, nor do religious Jews believe that those who murder non-Jews receive instant entry into paradise. The idea of going to paradise after murdering non-believers is a radical Islamist, not a Jewish, idea that is unfortunately routinely taught in Palestinian schools. The Torah is clearly opposed to murder, regardless of the nationality of the victims. It states “thou shall not kill,” not thou shall not kill Jews.
To the contrary of the claims made in Emirates News, the Talmud, which is studied in Israeli religious schools, teaches, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed the entire world. Whoever saves a soul, it is considered as if he saved the world entire.” Furthermore, the Torah, which is taught in all Israeli schools, in Leviticus 19:34 states, “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be a native among you and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” If the Palestinian schools taught in a similar manner to Israeli schools, peace would have been achieved a long time ago.