Jihad Zarkarneh, in charge of textbooks in the ministry, said that as long as Palestinians live under military rule, their books cannot be expected to portray Israel in a positive light.
In contrast, the director of Israel’s Education Ministry, Dalit Stauber, blasted the research as biased, unprofessional and ‘‘complete libel’’ intended to stain Israel’s reputation.
She said it is absurd to argue that a reference to historical facts — such as Palestinians taking Israeli athletes hostage during the 1972 Munich Olympics, where the Israelis were killed — means presenting the other side in a negative light.
Stauber said Israeli history books approved by the ministry demarcate the Palestinian-claimed territories, and that maps in books teaching other subjects are not relevant in this case. She said the ministry is reviewing texts used in ultra-Orthodox schools.
Yossi Kuperwasser, a senior Israeli official who monitors Palestinian statements and actions for the government’s ‘‘incitement index,’’ argued that the Israeli curriculum educates to peace, but the Palestinian one does not. ‘‘Incitement to violence, to hatred, is the main obstacle to peace, and this has to change if we really are to have peace,’’ he said.
Wexler, a Yale psychiatry professor, urged both sides to do better.
‘‘One of the major recommendations — don’t change your own narratives that are so meaningful to you ... but please put (in) some more information that will humanize’’ the other, he said.
The study was overseen by a scientific advisory panel, but five of the 19 panel members did not endorse the findings.
Two of the dissidents, Israeli textbook scholars Ruth Firer and Arnon Groiss, said they disagreed with the interpretation of the data.
Firer said the study did not sufficiently emphasize the achievements of books in Israeli secular schools in acknowledging the Palestinians.
In one of the Israeli books, for example, ‘‘there is a very nice chapter about Islam, very respectful,’’ she said. ‘‘In Palestinian books, there is nothing about the Jewish religion or the Holocaust.’’
Groiss, a researcher, said he believes the new study was too soft on the Palestinian books.
The State Department said the study is one of several to receive grants from Washington, but that they are not endorsed by the U.S. government.