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UN Commission Finds Anti-semitism in Texts Used by Arabs, Recommends Modifications

A commission of educators, assigned by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to investigate the textbooks used in Arab schools maintained by UNESCO and the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Arabs has recommended that eight of the textbooks be withdrawn and that “certain modifications” be made in 58 others. The survey commission, composed of American, French and Turkish educators, examined 127 textbooks used in these schools. It found that many of the textbooks gave a distorted view of the history of the Middle East region and some employed the “deplorable language of international anti-Semitism.”

The educators had “no objections” to 33 of the 127 books examined. It found that most of the remainder were “very poor in presentations” and that many had a “political slant.” They said that the repetition of this theme in books for children was likely to “form, create or strengthen frustration or the idea of revenge in the minds of children.” They noted that the Arab Israeli conflict held “a central place” in some of the textbooks which, they said, were likely to “advocate an appeal to violence” against Israel. The commission recommended that “all terms contemptuous of a community as a whole should be prohibited. It noted that some of the terms applied to Jews in the textbooks were “liars, cheats, usurers, idiots.” It was understood that both Lebanon and Egypt, where many of the UNESCO-UNRWA schools are located, protested against the fact that the books “used by the other side” (Israel) had not been similarly examined.

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