ADL analysis finds Saudi school textbooks still teach antisemitic incitement and hatred
A comprehensive Anti-Defamation League (ADL) analysis of Saudi government-published textbooks has found that, despite the kingdom’s claims to the contrary, school textbooks for the 2018-19 academic year promote incitement to hatred or violence against Jews, Christians, women, and homosexual men.
“Teaching Hate and Violence: Problematic Passages from Saudi State Textbooks for the 2018–19 School Year” analyzes new textbooks the kingdom released to its schools this fall, translating from the original Arabic dozens of troubling passages that clearly propagate incitement to hatred or violence against Jews, Christians, Shi’ite Muslims, women, homosexual men, and anybody who mocks or converts away from Islam. Because of Saudi Arabia’s status as custodian of Islam’s two holiest sites and its historic massive investment in religious proselytization abroad, the kingdom’s textbooks have a significant international footprint and have been used in countries in Africa, Europe, and other parts of Asia.
“The United States must hold its ally Saudi Arabia to a higher standard. The US cannot look the other way while Saudi Arabia features antisemitic hate speech year after year in the educational material it gives to its children,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
Saudi Arabia assured the U.S. government it would remove all intolerant passages from its textbooks by the start of the 2008 school year. Nearly a decade later, ADL has determined that such pledges remain unfulfilled. As recently as this September, Saudi officials falsely told U.S. audiences that such incitement in its textbooks had long since been resolved.
“If you go back to around the time of 9/11, virtually every group of people that was demonized in Saudi textbooks then is still demonized in the kingdom’s official textbooks today,” said David Andrew Weinberg, ADL’s Washington Director for International Affairs, the author of the report. “Saudi Arabia has made some undeniably significant social and religious reforms in recent years, but such steps have yet to address the hate-filled invective against Jews, Christians and others that is being taught to the next generation of Saudis.”
The Saudi curriculum is replete with intolerant passages about Jews and Judaism; some passages even urge violence against Jews. Others retread classic antisemitic stereotypes and assert conspiracy theories about alleged Jewish and Israeli plots to attack the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. These conspiracy theories not only deny the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount but also ascribe nefarious intentions and actions to Jews and Israel.
Selected antisemitic excerpts include (bolded for emphasis):
- “Among the most prominent effects of Zionism on the Islamic World are … the spread of drugs and sexual and other diseases in many Islamic countries.”
- “With the modern Jewish occupation of the State of Palestine, and despite all the international charters which forbid infringing on sanctities and sites of worship, the Jewish occupation through its associations and organizations does not stop night and day planning and plotting to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque and demolish it or burn it and violate it.”
The goals of Zionism in the Arab mashreq region are expressed through seeking regional expansion through three successive stages, which are:
1. The State of Israel in Palestine.
2. The State of Greater Israel in the Arab mashreq region.
3. The Global Jewish Government, to control the entire world.
Last fall, in an effort to address the hateful content in Saudi textbooks, ADL endorsed the Saudi Educational Transparency and Reform Act. This bipartisan piece of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would require greater scrutiny of the kingdom’s textbooks by the American government. ADL has joined with several groups urging the House Committee of Foreign Affairs to take timely action on this bill.