THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) – The Dutch education ministry distanced itself from a textbook that contained statements deemed anti-Israeli. The ministry’s statement on the book followed complaints by Jewish students and parents over the description in the book of Israel’s establishment as the result of widespread murder of Palestinian villagers. It also questioned Israeli former Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s credentials as a peacemaker, noting he was “known as a terrorist and extremist.”
The ministry “does not approve textbooks, they are selected by individual schools,” a ministry spokesperson told JTA. He declined to comment on the assertions in the book. Israel’s embassy in the Netherlands last week said the assertions in the Geschiedeniswerkplaats, or History Workplace textbook by the Noordhoff Uitgevers were “outrageous.” Among other things, the book states that David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, declared statehood after “Jewish militias carried out murders in Arab villages, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled and settled in refugee camps across the border.” The book mentions neither Arab atrocities against pre-state Israel’s Jewish population nor the invasion of several Arab armies into Israeli territory after its declaration of independence.
The book’s publisher defended the book. “We believe we carefully handled the facts and in the right context,” Beitie Bruinsma, a spokesperson for Noordhoff Uitgevers, told JTA.