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Saudi Arabia Removes Palestine from School Textbook Maps

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In a significant shift, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has implemented changes in its school curriculum for the 2023-2024 academic year, notably altering its portrayal of Palestine.

According to a recent report released by the pro-Israeli think tank IMPACT-se (Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education), these modifications include the omission of Palestine’s name from numerous textbook maps.

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IMPACT-se conducted a thorough review of 371 textbooks for the current academic year, comparing them with previous editions. Their findings indicate a notable departure from previous years’ curriculum, particularly in social and national studies textbooks.

Unlike the 2022 versions, the 2023-2024 textbooks feature maps of Saudi Arabia and its neighboring countries without explicitly labeling Palestine.

Additionally, the report highlights the removal of content that characterized Zionism as a racist European movement aiming to expel Palestinians.

Previous editions reportedly contained conspiracy theories attributing Arab expansion to Zionism and referred to Israel as “the Israeli Enemy” or “the Zionist Enemy.”

Moreover, the revised curriculum has eliminated or modified interpretations of jihad that were deemed violent.

IMPACT-se notes that a total of 21 problematic examples have been removed, including an entire chapter on the Palestinian Cause in a high school Social Studies textbook.

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This chapter allegedly contained content violating UNESCO standards of peace and tolerance.

The timing of these curriculum changes raises questions about potential motivations. Many speculate that they could be linked to ongoing US-mediated talks aimed at normalizing relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

Saudi Arabia has been a key player in the Middle East peace process, and these alterations in educational material could signal a broader shift in diplomatic strategy.

The report’s findings have sparked varied reactions, both domestically and internationally. Proponents of the changes argue that they reflect a commitment to fostering tolerance and understanding, aligning with broader efforts towards regional stability.

However, critics express concern over the potential whitewashing of history and the erasure of Palestinian identity from educational discourse.

The Saudi government has yet to officially comment on the IMPACT-se report or the changes in its curriculum. However, these developments underscore the complex interplay between education, ideology, and diplomacy in the Middle East.

Observers will closely monitor how these revisions shape public discourse within Saudi Arabia and influence broader regional dynamics.

The implications extend beyond the classroom, potentially impacting public opinion, policymaking, and geopolitical alliances in the years to come.

As Saudi Arabia navigates evolving regional dynamics and seeks to assert its influence on the world stage, its educational policies serve as a barometer of its broader strategic objectives.

The altered portrayal of Palestine in school textbooks reflects a nuanced approach to diplomacy and regional engagement, with far-reaching implications for the Middle East and beyond.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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