|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol 7, No.17, 26.4.01, p1|
Patten denies Commission to blame for sick propaganda war in Palestinian schools
EU aid cash for the West Bank and Gaza could be paying for anti-Semitic textbooks being used in Palestinian schools, MEPs warn.
They believe that some of the millions of euro the Union gives to support the Palestinian Authority each year has gone on books which spread a message of hatred in schools.
Dutch MEP Rijk van Dam and British MEP David Bowe have both received examples of sick propaganda allegedly supported by EU money - a claim that the European Commission strongly denies.
Bowe was sent several passages from Palestinian textbooks by Leeds Zionist Council in the UK. Its chairman, Philip Margolis, told him: "Much of the funding for these books comes from money donated by the European Union and we are concerned that the European Parliament is unaware of the inflammatory nature of the contents."
One passage allegedly reads: "Treachery and disloyalty are character traits of the Jews and therefore one should beware of them." Another states: "Perhaps Allah brought the Jews to our land so that their demise would be here, as it was in their wars with Rome."
The Commission insists that although it sends aid to the Palestinian Authority, none has been spent on anti-Semitic literature. "None of the projects in support of the Palestinian Authority financed by the Commission have supported the production or distribution of books, including schoolbooks," said External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, in a written reply to a question from Bowe.
"As regards projects financed bilaterally by member states, the Commission has no right to monitor or interfere, and therefore the relevant member states would have to be addressed individually."
German MEP Elmar Brok, chairman of the Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said he was not convinced by Patten's response. He has asked for more information and says he will formally write to the Commissioner if he does not get satisfactory answers within the next few weeks.
"We have to make sure it is clear what is allowed to be financed with European money," he said. "EU money can't get messed up in a propaganda war against Israel.
"It's not the direct political will of the Commission to finance such things, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been happening."
Van Dam said that even if it turned out that EU money was not being used to pay for anti-Semitic books, the institution should use its influence to ensure such material was not distributed in schools.
"About 55% of the funds for the Palestinian Authority comes from the EU. You can't claim that we don't have any responsibility for the schools system," he said.
"It's important that we place strong conditions on the Palestinian Authority, that they don't use the education system to encourage hatred. At the end of the day this could be a reason for withdrawing funds."
Patten's spokesman Gunnar Wiegand said there is a limit to the amount of conditions the Commission can place on funding and it was unrealistic for it to try and control what is taught in Palestinian schools.
"In our dealings with Palestine we are fighting corruption, we are fighting for more transparency, we are fighting for them to hold elections, we are fighting for them to dissolve their military courts and to use only civil courts," he said. "There are so many more things that we could potentially demand."
EU aid cash for the West Bank and Gaza could be paying for anti-Semitic textbooks being used in Palestinian schools, MEPs warn. External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten denies that the Commission is to blame.
|Countries / Regions||Middle East|