Jun. 26, 2002
B'nai Brith: Syrian schools drenched in anti-Semitism

NEW YORK Virulent anti-Semitism, calls for Jihad and support for the elimination of Israel are entrenched in every level of Syria's school system, according to a study released by B'nai Brith International of 68 Syrian school textbooks spanning grades 1-12.

Conducted by the New York-based Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, the 30-page study titled, "Jihad, Jews and Anti-Semitism in Syrian School Texts," found that Syrian children are taught to hate Jews and Israel with such ferocity that genuine reconciliation between the two peoples appears unlikely in the near future.

The study also highlights Syria's contradictory role in the international arena. Listed as one of seven sponsors of international terrorism by the US State Department, Syria also holds the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council and co-chairs its Human Rights Commission, based in Geneva.

Among the many examples of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment provided in the study, which looked at government-funded texts only, is an excerpt from a 10th grade social studies text that describes Zionism as "a racist-imperialist-colonialist-aggressive-expansionist political movement." In an 11th grade reader, Zionism is termed the "new Nazism" and a "model of racist evil."

Eighth-graders are taught that, "It is known that the Jews of today do not have any connection to Palestine," and sixth-graders learn that "The Prophet [Mohammed] knew about the treacherous intention harbored in the Jews' souls."

By age 15, Syrian children are read in their Islamic studies textbooks that Jews deserve to be liquidated: "Co-existence with them or having them as neighbors, is an enormous danger that threatens Islamic and Arab existence with destruction and extinction Their criminal intention should be turned against them by way of their elimination."

Calls for "martyrdom" and terrorism are also tracked in the study. An Islamic studies text for grade-5 students describes praises Palestinian youth for "rushing towards death, trying to reach it ahead of one another," and 6th-graders learn: "There is neither excuse nor forgiveness for the one who refrains from Jihad for the cause of God, for the purification of Palestine of the Jews."

B'nai Brith executive vice president Dan Mariaschin said that the study highlights the dim prospects for peace between Israel and Syria. "Without education for peace, not incitement, good relations between Syria and Israel are unlikely," he said.