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### Revamping Education for a Brighter Post-Hamas Era in Gaza

One of the primary inquiries that occupies various sectors such as politicians, academics, media figures, and concerned individuals revolves around the future of Gaza post the Israel-Hamas conflict and the eventual removal of the terrorist organization from the helm of the coastal enclave.

The aftermath of the Israel-Hamas war raises questions regarding the administration of the Gaza Strip, the reconstruction of its infrastructure, the restoration of security for Israel’s border communities, and the process of de-radicalizing Palestinian society in Gaza after almost two decades under Hamas rule.

At the core of this issue lies the imperative need for education reform.

Despite assertions that the cumulative impact of Israel’s conflict with Hamas and years of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish indoctrination in Palestinian education may perpetuate radicalism in Gaza, historical evidence suggests that education reform can effectively mitigate radical ideologies in societies previously governed by extremist movements akin to Hamas.

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Post-World War II, both Germany* and Japan underwent successful de-radicalization processes that dismantled their militaristic political and social frameworks, steering them away from aggressive expansionism that led to global conflict.

Initially guided by Allied forces and later driven by local authorities, both nations restructured their education systems by promoting democratic values, eliminating ultra-nationalism and militarism from curricula, decentralizing educational governance, and updating teacher training programs.

It is worth noting that these reforms followed the devastation and upheaval caused by the Allies’ actions against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Despite potential resentment, these reforms did not breed a more radicalized society post the defeat of the Axis powers.

While societal transformation was gradual, the educational reforms post-World War II laid the foundation for Germany and Japan to evolve into thriving democracies and robust economies as seen today.

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Recent years have demonstrated the integral role of education reform in peacebuilding and de-radicalization efforts.

In the aftermath of signing the Abraham Accords with Israel in 2020, the has embarked on revising educational materials to remove derogatory references to Jews and Israel. While some negative portrayals of Israel persist, the overall impact of moderation has been deemed highly positive.

This moderation process in the UAE has also encompassed the inclusion of Holocaust studies in primary and secondary school curricula.

Similarly, another signatory of the Abraham Accords has taken steps to adjust its educational content regarding Israel, although resistance from local religious figures raises doubts about the extent of these reforms.

Even Saudi Arabia, despite its historical stance towards Israel, has initiated a gradual revision of educational materials concerning Israel and Jewish communities. While negative depictions persist, this moderation signals a promising initial step.

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In a post-Hamas Gaza scenario, comprehensive education reform is imperative to counter the indoctrination prevalent during Hamas rule.

Equally crucial is determining the entities responsible for spearheading this reform.

While the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah and UNRWA are proposed as key players in Gaza’s rehabilitation, both are already entwined in the educational landscape: UNRWA operates schools in Gaza, and Hamas incorporates the core PA curriculum in local schools.

According to IMPACT-se, textbooks utilized in both and institutions glorify terrorism, advocate for Israel’s destruction, and perpetuate anti-Semitic stereotypes.

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For a promising future in post-Hamas Gaza, the international community must advocate for the introduction of a democratic and moderate curriculum in Palestinian schools to combat terrorism and foster peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Substituting Hamas’ indoctrination with teaching materials akin to those propagated by the PA and UNRWA does not ensure a brighter future for Gaza but rather risks perpetuating conflict.

\* While post-war education reforms in Germany initially mirrored those guided by Western Allies and the Soviet Union, disparities emerged in the restructuring of education systems between West Germany and East Germany.

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Photo Credit: Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images