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High school matriculation exams serve to reinforce “hateful content” taught in Palestinian schools, underscoring “the need for an urgent and determined intervention in the Palestinian curriculum,” a Jerusalem-based watchdog has warned.

In a report released this month, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) found that six of the 26 tawjihi exams, which are taken by twelfth-grade Palestinian students, include “problematic material” that reflects themes taught in Palestinian Authority textbooks and on official preparatory websites. The exams are necessary for enrollment in Palestinian and some Arab universities, and have been recognized by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

IMPACT-se pointed to a number of tawjihi questions that included concerning messages, such as a multiple choice query on the geography exam that asked students what countries share the Jordan River basin. Options included Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Iraq, with Israel tellingly omitted.

In another instance, the Arabic-language exam featured the poem “A Refugee’s Will,” which described a subject coming with a “weapon in your hand” to a “dear violated homeland.”

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An official study website aimed to clarify the poem’s meaning with the explanations that “liberation of the homeland can be done only through resistance with arms,” and “what was taken by force can be recovered only by force,” IMPACT-se stated.

At times, the problematic content is not evident in the tawjihi questions themselves, but the textbook material that students must study and memorize in order to prepare. A question on the Arab Spring in the history exam corresponds with a textbook chapter that presents the anti-government protests as a Western-Zionist plot to undermine Arab unity, IMPACT-se reported.

In a separate question on the history exam, students were asked to define national identity. The corresponding answer, found in the history textbook, taught “values such as sacrifice (including one’s life), ‘whatever the price’ and placing the Oslo process in the framework of ‘battle with the Zionist Occupation,’” according to IMPACT-se.

IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff told The Algemeiner on Monday that the tawjihi exams “ram home the lessons that [Palestinian students] have learned over the last 12 years so that ultimately they are graduating with a full proficiency in hate.”

“They have been through 12 years of radical education, starting literally in grade one, when they are asked to learn the letter ‘h’ (hā) through using the words hujum, which means attack, and shahid, which means martyr, at age six, and ending up at Grade 12 with really advanced lessons in extremism.”

The exams “complete” the education system’s radicalization process by referring back to an extremist curriculum, Sheff argued, allowing students to move on to “the workplace or advanced education … with a fully formed view of who the enemy is, and what is the proper answer to Palestinian nationalism — one state from the river to the sea.”

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