Statement from the Lead Investigators of the Israeli-Palestinian School Book Study
The Israeli-Palestinian school book study is among the most comprehensive, fact-based investigations ever done of school textbooks. The scientists developed a new research methodology that employed a standardized, manualized, multi-rater system in order to produce a transparent and scientifically rigorous analysis of current Israeli and Palestinian school books. The research assistants who analyzed the school books are all fluent in Arabic and Hebrew so both Israelis and Palestinians could analyze the school books of both communities. The data was entered remotely, similar to a blind study, into a database at Yale University so that the research assistants, consciously or unconsciously, could not be influenced by how the study was progressing. This scientific approach was used to maximize objectivity. The study represents the first phase towards the critically important goal of developing education for peace, as specified by the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which initiated the study, and as highlighted in the Oslo II Agreement in 1995. All funding for the study came from a single public source, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
A scientific advisory panel comprised of the most distinguished international experts in textbook analysis and leading Israeli and Palestinian academics from across the political spectrum carefully reviewed every aspect of the research and the findings during the three years of the study. Israeli advisory panel members are: Dr. Gershon Baskin, founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information; Daphna Canetti, Assistant Professor at the University of Haifa; Dr. Ruth I. Firer, editorial board member of Journal of Peace Education, and author, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in History and Civics Textbooks of Both Nations (2004); Dr. Arnon Groiss, former Director of Research for IMPACT-SE; Prof. Yaacov Iram, the Josef Burg Professor in Education for Human Values, Tolerance and Peace at the School of Education at Bar-Ilan University; Prof. Elie Podeh, past Chair of the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Hebrew University; Dr. Elihu D. Richter, Head of the Genocide Prevention Program and Injury Prevention Center at Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Jerusalem; and Rabbi Daniel Sperber, Professor of Talmud at Bar-Ilan University and winner of the Israel Prize. In a day long meeting with the research team in Jerusalem, the advisory panel agreed on the main findings as described in the report and that the study is of the highest scientific standards.
As the study findings indicate, the Israeli community should be commended for the fact that some of the books in the Israeli State schools have taken steps towards a balanced examination of historical events, and in so doing acknowledge elements of the Palestinian narrative. Furthermore, both Israeli and Palestinian communities should be commended for the absence of extreme dehumanizing characterizations of the other. Repeated invitations were extended to both the Israeli and Palestinian Ministries of Education to examine the methods and further advise on the study from the start, and we hope Ministry staff and experts from both communities review current and future books in light of the study findings. We hope the Ministries will be moved to prepare a plan of action to support educational practices that promote mutual respect and understanding to advance the peace building process.
Prof. Sami Adwan
Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal
Prof. Bruce E. Wexler