Saudi textbooks undergo dramatic changes without mention of Palestine

Saudi Arabian textbooks for the 2023/24 school year have undergone significant revisions, signaling a positive step towards promoting tolerance, peace, and equality. The curriculum no longer includes derogatory references to Jews as monkeys and pigs, removes descriptions portraying Jews as enemies of Islam, and excludes false accusations against Israel such as the blame for the 1969 fire at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Notably, the word “Palestine” which previously covered the entire territory of Israel in systematic maps and sections discussing locations within Israel has been deleted. While references to the Holocaust remain absent, Israel does not appear on the maps. However, these changes are seen as promising developments by some observers who believe they will pave the way for greater understanding and cooperation in the region.

Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, commended these changes in the Saudi curriculum and believed they were encouraging a future of greater understanding and cooperation in the region. Eric Agassi, deputy director of IMPACT-se, emphasized that textbooks play an important role in shaping understanding and highlighted the importance of presenting information free from hatred and incitement to violence.

Despite recent efforts to advance normalization with Saudi Arabia, tensions between Riyadh and Israel remain high. Recent criticisms from Saudi Arabia condemn what they perceive as ongoing atrocities committed by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinian people, particularly focusing on events in Rafah. The Kingdom holds Israel responsible and accuses them of violating humanitarian norms and laws.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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