Donald Trump, in his “town hall” appearance in Charleston Wednesday night, said that children on “one side in particular” in the Palestine-Israel conflict are “growing up and learning that these are the worst people.” He apparently believes this is the Palestinian side, for a moment later he added: “I was with a very prominent Israeli the other day. (He) says (a peace agreement is) impossible because the other side has been trained from the time they are children to hate Jewish people.”
I don’t know who the “prominent Israeli” Trump spoke with is. As you can see from the video above, he doesn’t name the person. But I would like to suggest to Donald Trump that he get a copy of the 2011 book Palestine in Israel School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education, by Nurit Peled-Elhanan, for in this book he might learn something about the teaching of hate to children–Israeli Jewish children, that is.
Peled-Elhanan, a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, made a study of Israeli school textbooks and discovered that they are filled with racist portrayals of Palestinians–who the textbooks refer to derogatorily as “Arabs.” She believes the portrayals are intended to prepare young Israelis for military service.
“The Arab with a camel, in an Ali Baba dress. They describe them as vile and deviant and criminal, people who don’t pay taxes, people who live off the state, people who don’t want to develop,” Peled-Elhanan said in an interview with The Guardian. “The only representation is as refugees, primitive farmers and terrorists. You never see a Palestinian child or doctor or teacher or engineer or modern farmer.”
She found such portrayals, she says, in “hundreds and hundreds” of books.
“People don’t really know what their children are reading in textbooks. One question that bothers many people is how do you explain the cruel behaviour of Israeli soldiers towards Palestinians, an indifference to human suffering, the inflicting of suffering. People ask how can these nice Jewish boys and girls become monsters once they put on a uniform. I think the major reason for that is education. So I wanted to see how school books represent Palestinians.”
One of the most objectionable things she found is how the history of the founding of the state is taught, the retelling of the events of 1948, including the massacre at Deir Yassin.
“It’s not that the massacres are denied, they are represented in Israeli school books as something that in the long run was good for the Jewish state,” says Peled-Elhanan. “For example, Deir Yassin was a terrible slaughter by Israeli soldiers. In school books they tell you that this massacre initiated the massive flight of Arabs from Israel and enabled the establishment of a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. So it was for the best. Maybe it was unfortunate, but in the long run the consequences for us were good.”
The result? Children grow up and internalize a message–that Palestinians are “people whose life is dispensable with impunity. And not only that, but people whose number has to be diminished.”
Peled-Elhanan is the daughter of the famed Israeli General Matti Peled. Whether that makes her sufficiently “prominent” in Donald Trump’s eyes I do not know, but if he does get elected, and if he does plan to give a peace agreement “one hell of a shot” it would be much to his advantage to learn all he possibly can about Israeli culture and particularly its pervasive racism. Embarking upon such a study just might lead Trump to an understanding of why the conflict in Occupied Palestine has proven to be “the toughest deal in the world right now to make.”