The vast majority of educated people assume that they are getting a relatively unbiased education through their textbook studies. There is no reason to assume that there are biases in elementary school through the textbooks – but most people would be shocked to see just how prevalent such biases really are. Certainly, many textbooks written in the 1950s in America showed gender and racial bias. The math problems included women who were baking and cooking and men who were going off to work. The story lines would include white people who were successful and black people who were in the fields or in other industries of this sort.
But in today’s world, we don’t expect such biases to continue. And they do. Daniel Taub, a former ambassador to the United Kingdom who headed the Israeli side of the Culture of Peace negotiations at the Annapolis Conference in 2007, has written a great deal about these issues. As UNESCO passes resolutions wiping out Jewish history and Judaism’s connection to Jerusalem, Mr. Taub points out some fascinating, and perhaps not well known truths. In an article in The Jerusalem Post he explained that,
“I served as the head of the Israeli side of the Culture of Peace track of negotiations with the Palestinians during this Orwellian rewriting of history. Our negotiation team was charged, among other things, with examining the role played by schoolbooks and education systems in perpetuating the conflict. In examining textbooks, we chose to place particular emphasis on deliberate distortions of history for political ends.”
He continued by explaining that he actually traveled to Northern Ireland with his Palestinian counterpart, Sufian Abu Zaida, where they learned that both sides of the Irish conflict insisted that history be taught honestly to school children.
Returning from their trip, they developed a program for school textbooks to be reviewed by an independent committee of experts, but the program was rejected by the Palestinian leadership when it became public knowledge.
Daniel Taub gives a concrete example when discussing the bias in Palestinian teachings. As he said, “Palestinian text books were actually rewritten to rename the Tomb of Rachel the Mosque of a Moslem prophet. And the Guide to the Temple Mount published by the Supreme Moslem Council in the 1920’s said that its identity as the site of Solomon’s Temple was ‘beyond dispute’.”
Certainly, around the world textbooks needs to reflect the reality of the history and the current events as they unfold. When quoting late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Daniel Taub recalled that Senator Moynihan used to say, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”