UAE Normalizes Textbooks But Not Maps

Abu Dhabi University. (lam_chihang)

Textbooks in the United Arab Emirates have been updated to reflect normalization with Israel, except on maps of the Mideast where Israel still does not exist.

According to a report released on Thursday by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), the UAE curriculum contains “expressions of tolerance toward Judaism, and its authors “did not find examples of antisemitism or incitement.”

Many passages that portrayed Israel in a negative light were expunged on a range of topics, the report found.

But some do remain. For example, “Likewise, Palestine, which was burdened by the yoke of creating a new ‘national home’ for the Jews on its lands, has also witnessed strong Arab resistance to Zionist greedy ambitions since the moment of its establishment,” reads a Grade 11 history book,

Yet, more than a year after signing of the Abraham Accords, Israel has not made it onto the textbook maps, with one exception. Some maps merely hint at Israel’s existence in the negative space around the borders of a Palestinian entity, or show Israel’s border without its name.

Israel is not only missing from the maps, Jews are missing from the Mideast. There is no teaching of the history of Jews in the region, nor is there any mention of the Holocaust. There are, however, extensive lessons on Palestinian history and literature.

On balance, the trend is overwhelmingly positive, said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff.

“Our report found that anti-Israel material has been significantly moderated and now extremely rarely exists. Passages that previously demonized Israel; antisemitic conspiracies that the Zionist movement has imperial aspirations to extend from the Nile River to the Euphrates with the support of ‘Global Colonialism,’ and that blamed the Zionist enemy for seeking to exterminate the Palestinian people, have all been removed. In effect there has been a wholesale removal of problematic examples and a considerable, strategic shift to moderate and tolerant material. Especially noteworthy in relation to Jews and Israel is the removal by the authors of a passage that presented the Palestinian issue as ‘the basis of conflicts in the Middle East.’”

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