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Survey: Saudi Arabian textbooks filled with hatred of West, Jews
JTA ^ | 2-20-03 | Michelle Dardashti

Posted on 02/20/2003 5:12:39 AM PST by SJackson

Samples of textbooks used in Saudi Arabia that are critical of Jews, Christians and Western nations.

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (JTA) — A new survey speaks volumes about Saudi Arabian attitudes toward Jews, Christians and the West. An analysis of 93 state-sponsored textbooks in Saudi Arabia, conducted by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace in partnership with the American Jewish Committee, finds that Saudi students are being taught that “Jews are wickedness in its very essence,” “Zionism is a nationalist, racist and aggressive movement” and the West “is the source of the past and present misfortunes in the Muslim world.”

“This report is a smoking gun,” said David Harris, executive director of the AJCommittee. “Despite Saudi government statements to the West promoting unity, friendship and tolerance, the report clearly demonstrates a disturbing pattern of hateful language.”

For Arnon Groiss, director of the Voice of Israel’s Arabic news division and the man responsible for compiling and translating the data in the study, the most compelling finding was “the extent of the paranoia the Saudis are trying to instill in their children regarding the West, beyond the expected anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.”

This is the fourth report Groiss has issued for the center, following two on Palestinian and one on Israeli textbooks.

In many ways, it could be the most significant.

The study comes as increasing attention is being paid to anti-Semitism in Saudi Arabia, a long-time U.S. ally. The Saudis also have come in for criticism since it was found that 15 of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 terror attacks were Saudi citizens, and that Saudi money helps fund Palestinian terrorist groups.

Andre Marcus, the founding chairman of the center, which has offices in both New York and Jerusalem, said the educational system is key, since decisions taken at an autocratic political level don’t necessarily make it down to the street.

Elsewhere in the Arab world, that disconnect — for example, between the Palestinian Authority’s peace agreements with Israel and the anti-Israel messages in Palestinian textbooks and official media — makes it much more difficult for peace to succeed, Marcus said.

“Textbooks are a powerful tool,” he said, “I would say even more than the media, more than TV.”

Attitudes towards the Jewish people and Israel — which doesn’t even exist on Saudi maps — are particularly noteworthy in light of the plan for Mideast peace that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah proposed last year.

Marcus points to another reason why a study on the Saudis is so critical: As the cradle of Islam, Saudi Arabia’s educational system exerts an influence on curricula in other Muslim countries.

The textbooks make abundantly clear the Saudi belief that Islam is the only true religion and that followers of other religions can’t be trusted or befriended.

Marcus characterized the books’ sentiments as “very much against peace and an education of peace.”

The study also illustrates the Saudi position on the legal standing and duties of women and children, as well as notions of government and society.

Given the tight controls on information in Saudi Arabia, information for the study was gathered with great difficulty, from Saudis who want to see the educational system revamped.

These are people “who are tired of seeing education used as propaganda, and would like to see some changes in their own country,” Marcus said.

The report has two objectives, he said: The first is to promote greater awareness of the “brainwashing” taking place in Saudi Arabia and the second is the construction of an educational system “that is more democratic and allows children to think freely” Marcus said.

Harris said the study is “creating quite a buzz on Capital Hill,” with senators asking for copies. The report also was presented to the State Department on Feb. 4, the day of its release.

“Our goal in the end is not to embarrass the Saudis,” Harris said. “Our goal is to get the textbooks changed.”

Yet the report’s backers don’t expect the report to produce major changes any time soon.

Groiss, who has spent 30 years monitoring Middle Eastern affairs, says he recognizes that entrenched interests in the Muslim world will work to forestall change.

One of the few “Western-friendly” excerpts Groiss found was the Saudi denunciation of terrorism. The catch, of course, lies in how the Saudis define terrorism.

According to Groiss, “everything that falls within the category of jihad or martyrdom is not terror.” If violence can be justified as “for the sake of God” then it is considered permissible, and even is encouraged, he said.

Students are given examples of what constitutes legitimate examples of jihad — including the struggles over Kashmir and “occupied Palestine.”

Members of the American Jewish Committee met with the Saudi foreign minister in September 2002 and spoke with him about initial findings in the survey, which was already under way.

“They admit that there’s some problematic material,” said Ken Bandler, a spokesman for the AJCommittee. “But they don’t seem to be doing much about it.”

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs

1 posted on 02/20/2003 5:12:39 AM PST by SJackson
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To: SJackson
I guess they're just like American textbooks.
2 posted on 02/20/2003 5:18:16 AM PST by Pete'sWife ((...actually, Pete's Wife's Husband))
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To: SJackson
NEWS FLASH!!! Muslims hate Jews!

And, this just in... 90% of all Muslims have below average I.Q.'s.

Hey, that rhymes!

3 posted on 02/20/2003 5:48:44 AM PST by O.C. - Old Cracker
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To: SJackson
My question is, if we have vouchers, are US-based Saudi schools going to use tax money and at the same time use the same (or translated versions of the same) textbooks?
4 posted on 02/20/2003 7:04:30 AM PST by valkyrieanne
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To: SJackson
5 posted on 02/20/2003 8:20:02 AM PST by Fiddlstix
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To: valkyrieanne
Since their schools in the US along with their texts and educational agenda survive regulation by the various states, I'd assume they'd be eligible for vouchers, as well as participating in faith based initiatives.
6 posted on 02/20/2003 8:44:51 AM PST by SJackson
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To: SJackson
However, no tax money will be used for any propoganda that violates anybody's Constitutional rights.

In other words, you can't set up a religion based on hating Hispanic people and expect that the government is going to dole out faith-based cash to you, nor can you expect to receive vouchers to send your kid to the same.

State regulators would be all over this, as well as Federal.
7 posted on 02/20/2003 8:57:15 AM PST by mabelkitty
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To: mabelkitty; SJackson
We can only hope. There are states with virtually no regulation whatever on private schools, especially when it comes to religious instruction. I for one do NOT want to see more state regulations on private religious schools. However, it depends on the wording of the Supreme Court ruling, when it comes. If the religious content of the school is ruled to be *entirely immaterial* to the reception of voucher money, then it's perfectly reasonable to expect that even schools towing the Saudi line would still be eligible.
8 posted on 02/20/2003 2:47:52 PM PST by valkyrieanne
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To: mabelkitty
However, no tax money will be used for any propoganda that violates anybody's Constitutional rights.

This just caught my eye. Tax money is going *right now* to parochial schools that teach that abortion is wrong. The Supreme Court has already ruled that abortion is a "constitutional right," but that is not the view taught in Catholic or conservative Lutheran schools that really adhere to their churches' teachings. Obviously it's not a problem for a school to *already* receive tax money and yet be opposed quite vocally to what is commonly deemed a constitutional right (although thought by many to be immoral.)

In fact, Islamic schools could point to this very situation, and say: "You have been giving tax money to parochial schools, which teach that homosexuality and abortion are wrong. Both are legal under the state law (and in the case of abortion) the federal law. We teach that equal rights for women, the existence of Israel, the inferiority of "infidels" and especially Jews are all crucial aspects of our religion. Is the state going to tell us what we can and can't do in the name of religion?"

The argument will get extended further to "faith-based initiatives" as well. We already have seen how Muslim "charities" have been funnelling money to Al-Qaeda for years. If faith-based initiatives get started, will they now funnel our tax money as well as private donations to jihadist organizations?

These are not trivial questions, and the article about the Saudi textbooks makes them very topical. When conservatives started the movements for prayer in school, vouchers for private religious school tuition, and tax support for religious charities, the jihadi Islamic threat wasn't even on the radar. Now it is, and it's incumbent upon conservatives to face this issue, rather than putting the two questions (tax support for religion) and Islamic jihad in two separate boxes, and never taking them out at the same time.

9 posted on 02/20/2003 3:28:08 PM PST by valkyrieanne
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