It’s been a busy week for private schools in Qatar. After a recent controversy about an Israeli flag being raised during a school function in Doha, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has once again reared its head in the Gulf nation.
This time, a private school in Doha has found itself in trouble after using textbooks that appear to feature Palestinians as their choice examples of “terrorism” - using the actions of Palestinian groups like the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) PLO and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to discuss concepts like “hijacking” and “suicide vests”.
The debacle began when pictures of the textbook used at the International School of Choueifat in Doha were shared on social media websites, highlighting the controversial chapter in question:
نطالب بمراجعة دقيقة لكتب مدرسة الشويفات بعد ضبط فقرة ان الفلسطينيين يمارسون الارهاب في الشرق الأوسط! pic.twitter.com/7alcFcu8rF— الجوهرة (@orthoqueenqtr) October 3, 2016
The Qatari Ministry of Education was quick to respond, with Doha News reporting that the textbook has been removed from the school.
Many saw the textbook as unfair propaganda against the Palestinian people, taking to Twitter to react to the news and ask their government to look for similar instances in other schools.
نطالب وزارة التربية بعد سحبها لكتاب الاجتماعيات من مدرسة الشويفات الخاصةالتي وصفت الفلسطينيين بالإرهابيين أن تراقب مناهج بقية المدارس الخاصة— محمد خالد بوعمار (@boammar) October 3, 2016
“We ask that the Ministry of Education, after removing the textbook that described Palestinians as terrorists from the Choueifat school, to observe other private schools to ensure that there are no issues with any other textbooks.”
وزارة التعليم تسحب كتب من مدرسة الشويفات وتنذر المدرسة وارجاع قيمة الكتب للطلبة ..#براڤو— بن راشد آل خآطـر (@M_B_R_Alkhater) October 3, 2016
“The Qatari Ministry of Education removed the textbook from the school and refunds all the students. #Bravo”
#ابو_صعب #وزارة_التربية احتكار المدارس لبيع الكتب يجب ان يتوقف .مدرسة #الشويفات #sabis كتبها بين الاف دولار واكثر... https://t.co/vLuro2tEdA— Rola Elmourad (@rolaelmourad) September 9, 2016
“We need to stop the monopoly that private schools have on selling books. Choueifat’s books are sometimes over a thousand dollars.”
Suicide vests and airline hijackings have been used extensively by Palestinian armed resistance groups over the course of the past several decades, controversial tactics that make the topic sensitive -- especially when presented in schools and universities. However, resistance to the Israeli occupation comes in many forms -- and certainly not always violently.
According to their website, the International School of Choueifat has schools in a number of Middle Eastern countries, but whether this scandal will cause the school to change its international policies is yet to be seen.
As of now Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan have forced the international school to withdraw the textbook from their teaching curriculum.