Monday, June 17, 2024

Saudi textbooks remove Palestine from most maps: Report

Saudi textbooks have removed the name “Palestine” from most maps where it previously appeared, a study by an Israeli think-tank claimed.

The study, conducted by the NGO Impact-se, tracks changes in Saudi school textbooks over the past five years, as reflected in the 2023-24 academic year.

It reviews 371 textbooks published between 2019 and 2024, and highlights content removed, altered or that which remained unchanged.

A social studies textbook for grade 12 defining Zionism as a racist movement was no longer taught from 2023, while another textbook still taught has removed the chapter about the Palestinian cause, the study revealed.

According to the study, the social studies textbooks for grades five and nine consistently don’t name Palestine or Israel on maps, which is an omission from the 2022 versions which only named Palestine on the map.

“Most maps removed the names of all countries not bordering Saudi Arabia, including Palestine, and in some cases all country names were removed,” the report added.

Likewise, two maps in a geography textbook for grades 10-12, which previously named Palestine, now do not display the names of any country bordering Saudi Arabia. The same omission took place in social studies textbooks for grades six and seven.

Islamic studies and geography textbooks for grades 10-12 also removed maps that previously displayed historic Palestine instead of Israel.

A reference to Israel as “the Zionist entity” in the 2021 social studies textbook for grades 10-12 was removed in the 2022 edition, and the entire textbook that included a lesson on Arab and Saudi support for the Palestinian cause was discontinued in 2023.

The report also documented some alterations in textbooks that now refer to Israel in a less hostile tone.

For example, the 2022 version of a high school social studies textbook replaced references to Israel as “the Zionist enemy” with “the Israeli occupation army”. The same textbook edited “the Israeli enemy” to “the Israeli occupation”, and “the Zionists” to “the Israelis”, or “the Israeli occupation army”.

Saudi Arabia has not formally recognised Israel since its creation in 1948, but there has been persistent speculation that the kingdom would normalise relations with the state as its Persian Gulf neighbours Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have in recent years.

These rumours, however, were disrupted following the 7 October Hamas-led attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli war on Gaza that has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia has been a strong opponent and critic of Israel’s onslaught.

The Saudi foreign ministry announced in February that no normalisation would take place without a ceasefire and progress toward Palestinian statehood.

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