Saudi Arabia removes anti-Israel material from schoolbooks
Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The move is “another step towards the transformation of a curriculum into an educational framework which encourages tolerance, peace and greater equality,” said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff.

By JNS Staff Report
May 28, 2024

Saudi Arabia has removed practically all antisemitism and anti-Israel material from its schoolbooks, in a major shift from the past and a harbinger of a better future, a study released Tuesday found.

The study, conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE)—an international research organization—found a “marked reduction” in anti-Israel content in the Saudi curriculum, which no longer teaches that Zionism is a “racist” European movement, nor denies the historical Jewish presence in the region dating back 3,000 years.

In addition, according to the study, hostile references to Israel in the textbooks have been modified, while the word “Palestine” has been removed from maps of Israeli sites.

The study also noted that all remaining violent interpretations of jihad, which had been in place for years, were removed or altered in this year’s textbooks.

References to homosexuality as a “monstrous atrocity,” or claims that emulating the opposite sex is a “deviation from normality,” were removed, as well. While retaining a traditional approach to gender roles, there has been a notable improvement in the depiction of women, the study revealed.

“Saudi textbooks published for the 2023/24 school year constitute another step towards the transformation of a curriculum into an educational framework which encourages tolerance, peace and greater equality,” said IMPACT-se CEOMarcus Sheff. “Having already removed antisemitism from the textbooks, it is particularly encouraging that Saudi curriculum designers have made further revisions which portray Israel in a more positive light. These changes bode well for the future of the region as a whole.”

The significant positive changes in the Gulf Kingdom’s educational curriculum come amid renewed reports of a United States-brokered Saudi-Israeli normalization deal. This is despite Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish state—which some Mideast analysts assess was launched, in part, to scuttle such a deal—and the ongoing war in Gaza.

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