You may recall Hillary Clinton trumpeting the news that Palestinian school textbooks teach hatred of Israel and Jews. This so-called revelation was supposed to teach the world the perfidy of Palestinians; that they don’t want peace; that they only want to hate; and that the fault for the conflict lay at the foot of the Palestinians alone. Hillary’s ‘news’ was meant as a boon to AIPAC and the Israel-First crowd and meant to bolster her pro-Israel bona fides. In fact, two senior Jewish Federation volunteers use the charge to support their endorsement of Clinton’s candidacy.
When I first read of Hillary’s charge my response was: “So what?” I spent most of my public school education resisting the propaganda some of my teachers tried to inculcate (cf. Tom Paxton’s remarkable song, What Did You Learn in School Today?). Many students are smart enough to see through the lies that might be taught them. Besides, do we really believe that what schoolchildren learn is critical to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
But little did I realize that I needn’t have bothered trying to explain or rationalize the allegedly defamatory Palestinian textbooks. Why? Because Hillary’s claims were not true. Diane Mason lays out the case in her own impeccable fashion at Lawrence of Cyberia and I recommend you read the entire post.
In short, Hillary relied in her charges on “research” performed by the Committee for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP), a right-wing pro-Israel propaganda outfit founded by Itamar Marcus. CMIP’s purpose, like that of MEMRI, CAMERA, Debka, and a host of other similar groups is to cut and paste media stories that are embarrassing to Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. Many of the stories are either mistranslated, wrenched out of context, or generally twisted to place Islam in the worst possible light.
In this particular case, CMIP’s research and conclusions are entirely wrong. While there are some textbooks used by students which deride Jews and Israel, they are old Jordanian and Egyptian publications and they are being used because Israeli administrators prefer not to allow Palestinians to use textbooks created by the PA for fear that this might mean recognition of a Palestinian claim to sovereignty. Actual Palestinian textbooks do NOT contain any of the slurs documented by CMIP.
To the CMIP charge that classrooms display maps missing the State of Israel, non-partisan academic investigators note that the maps are GEOGRAPHIC, and not political or national maps. In other words, they don’t show the boundaries of ANY country.
Diane also notes that in an interview a CMIP director acknowledged that he does not think that Palestinian textbooks are guilty of incitement against Israel or Jews. There goes Clinton’s argument. There is much more to the story of course which you may pursue at Diane’s site.
But let’s return to the question why any of this is important considering that Hillary’s errant claims are several years old. The reason why this is entirely relevant is that Hillary is running for president on a hawkish, pro-Israel agenda. She has never renounced these false claims. She continues to raise them in Jewish venues as if they are true.
Clinton has a first-rate staff that I’m sure researches all of the claims she makes to test their accuracy. It would be extremely easy for her to investigate the Palestinian textbook claim and discover that it is false. Yet she does not do so. So much for a concern for truth. So much for a sensitivity to the Palestinian educational system which she has slandered for political advantage.
In other words, this is a candidate who uses a sledge hammer when it comes to discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when a scalpel is required. Do we trust her to understand the nuances, complexity and ambiguity of the issues involved? Do we trust her to be an honest broker in bringing the two sides together should she become president? I know I don’t and this issue confirms my doubts.
Writing just after the New Hampshire primary, in which Clinton displayed deep emotion in responding to sexist attacks against her, Mason writes:
Like many people, I’ve been disgusted by the sexist attacks that you have faced in the primaries so far, and will no doubt continue to face the closer you get to the Presidency. It must be very difficult to be the first serious female contender for President, and to see your candidacy belittled by big-mouthed pundits who…demean you just because of who you are. We could all see how much that hurt you when you teared up in New Hampshire. But have you never stopped to consider that you have made a political asset out of demonizing and defaming Palestinian Arabs, even though racist rhetoric hurts its target just as much as sexism hurts you? You have made a decision that it is all right to do to others what is obviously painful when it is done to you, just so long as there is some political advantage to be had.
I look at how much you are hurt by the sexist rhetoric you face, and I want to feel sorry for you. But then I look at how easily and how repeatedly you demonize Palestinians just because you have calculated that it will win you some votes…