Saudi Textbooks Move Further Away from Prejudice and Bigotry

Bad as the news is from Lebanon, there is at least some good news from Saudi Arabia. Less then a decade ago, Islamic State was using the kingdom’s textbooks in its schools in Iraq. Saudi Arabia has since then taken gradual steps to purge radical content from its curricula, including anti-Semitism and bigotry toward Israel. In the long term, such changes may do more to foster peace between Jerusalem and Riyadh than any of the latest White House efforts to broker a normalization agreement. IMPACT-se, an organization devoted to analyzing educational materials around the world, reports:

Importantly, an entire high-school social-studies textbook, once a breeding ground for anti-Israel hatred, has been removed for the 2023-24 academic year. Students no longer learn content which defined Zionism as a “racist” European movement that aims to expel Palestinians, or that Zionism’s “fundamental goal” is to expand its borders and take over Arab lands, oil wells, and Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. A different version of the textbook is now taught, in which references to Israel as “the Israeli enemy” and “the Zionist enemy” have been replaced.

Examples falsely accusing Israel of the 1969 arson at al-Aqsa Mosque and the “occupation forces” of “destroy[ing] the region” were also removed from social-studies textbooks, alongside a lesson teaching that “the occupying Zionist enemy” builds “settlements” in the Negev to sever the connection between Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula. . . . Notable passages omitted from the 2023-24 textbooks include teachings that labeled Jews and Christians as liars, arrogant, and accused them of falsifying their scriptures.

Nonetheless, . . . the Holocaust is absent from a chapter about World War II, and Israel is still referred to as “the Israeli occupation” and “Israeli occupiers” in the context of the 1948 war.

And while the entire territory from the Jordan to the Mediterranean is no longer labeled Palestine on maps, the textbook authors still can’t bring themselves to call it Israel.

Read more at IMPACT-se

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy