HEBRON REFLECTION: The Israeli Occupation and the Palestinian Educational System

January 14, 2004
HEBRON REFLECTION: The Israeli Occupation and the Palestinian Educational

[Note: The following is an edited excerpt from a report written by Hebron
Team member Jerry Levin as part of his series, "From the Inside Looking
Out." People wishing to receive these reports may send their requests to

While wading through responses to one of my latest reports, I came across
the following: "Part of the problem that nobody talks about is the
Palestinian educational system that instills hostility and hatred from early
grade school on, [and] doctrines that lead to suicide homicides."

My answer to that familiar refrain is this: even though this reputed
cornerstone of Palestinian teaching is certainly talked about repeatedly in
some quarters such as AIPAC or the Jerusalem Post, I want to know: what's
really to talk about?

The "problem" is not the Palestinian "educational system," which these
people do talk about at length in negative generalities but not specifics.
The "problem" is the brutality of the never-ending occupation, which is
enforcing and abetting the colonization of the best parts of the West Bank
and Gaza. The terrible facts of colonization speak for themselves without
the need of a single school book being opened.

Palestinian youngsters don't need their schools to "instill hostility and
hatred" of Israel (or a series of U. S. accomplice administrations for that
matter.) Palestinians can't escape Israeli hostility and hatred in the form
of soldiers and settlers in their midst, whose continued presence provides
irrefutable assurance that 1) escalating annexation of their land will
continue unrelieved, 2) that a variety of non judicial collective
punishments for daring to oppose the occupation will continue unrelieved
4) that home demolitions, and the withholding, theft, and the frustrating of
such services and essentials as water, electricity, medicine, clinics, and
hospitals will continue unrelieved, 4) that the severest restrictions of
movement of goods and people from village to village and town to town
anywhere in the world will continue unrelieved, and 5) that in the Old City
of Hebron, CPT will need to continue--apparently indefinitely--to conduct
its daily school patrols in order to be on the spot when settlers and
soldiers try to stop youngsters from trying to get an

Furthermore having experienced the U. S. educational system first hand, I
find that instilling chauvinistic antagonisms, national and racial
condescensions, jingoistic tainted concepts of history, and the fomenting of
forms of violence rationalizing politically correct patriotism is not much
different than that being taught elsewhere in the world, including the
Middle East and especially Israel.

As for "doctrines that lead to suicide homicides," I've just listed a few of
the examples that have created the conditions, which have made it possible
for violent Palestinian radicals to recruit their teenage or not much older
underground army of terrorizing occupation resisters. The conditions, not
the schooling, are what have been convincing some youngsters to enlist in
the very uneven campaign against the relentless annexation of their lands
and rights. Those conditions and not their schooling is what has been
turning a relative handful of disillusioned deprived, dispossessed, and
disenfranchised kids into mini-smart bombs and pint sized guided missiles.