In the most recent edition of Educate (page 39), the NEU’s bimonthly magazine, the largest teachers union gives credibility to perhaps one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories in the history of anti-Israel propaganda: the claim that Israeli “settlers” train wild boars to scare and attack Palestinians.
Reporting on an official NEU trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank, delegation member Mohammed Aziz recounts a “tearful” visit to a school in Ramallah, the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
“We were told that wild boars are released in and around the camp by settlers to scare children,” Aziz noted after lamenting the class size and apparent teacher shortage.
Where does one even start to unpack such brazen nonsense?
The boar conspiracy theory was first made popular by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who in 2014 insisted that “every night, [Israelis] release wild pigs against us.” Only two months ago, the libel resurfaced in English-language pro-Palestinian publications.
Aziz’s suggestion that Israeli Jews would be raising vicious, wild (and unkosher!) animals for no reason except to terrorize Palestinian kids is, of course, ridiculous. In fact, boar sightings have increased dramatically throughout both Jewish and Arab controlled areas of both the West Bank and pre-1967 Israel in recent years.
In 2019, the northern Israeli city of Haifa reported some 1,300 instances of this, almost 40 percent more than the 2015 total. According to local ecologists, the pig invasion is caused by humans leaving food in residential areas; COVID-19 lockdowns, which saw public life and movement reduced, exacerbated the problem.
Wild boars have attacked Arabs and Jews alike. In October 2021, a Jewish Israeli had to be evacuated from the West Bank by helicopter following a boar attack near a community in Samaria. Accordingly, even hostile anti-Israel NGOs like B’Tselem and Yesh Din have admitted that there is absolutely “no evidence” to back up the accusations by the likes of Mohammed Aziz.
Educate’s 350-word piece also contains countless other errors.
For example, with regard to classroom sizes, the PA-controlled West Bank is no exception. Last year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that Israeli schools had an average of 26.3 students per classroom, compared to the OECD average of 21.1. Many Israeli children, particularly in religious schools, attend classes with 35, 40, or more students in them.
Moreover, Ramallah is not a “camp” — but a city of roughly 40,000 people, and the place of residence of the deep-pocketed PA leadership. The PA has been responsible for administering and funding education in cities like Ramallah since it signed the Oslo Accords nearly 30 years ago.
Aziz also misportrays Israel’s military justice system, failing to mention that defendants who do not speak Hebrew are appointed an interpreter.
The editors of Educate, which gets sent out to some 500,000 National Education Union members, clearly failed to check their facts when printing Aziz’s baseless libel. Perhaps this has something to do with the organization’s overt anti-Israel agenda: Two years ago, several Jewish teachers resigned from the NEU in protest over its “obsession” with the only Jewish state.
At the same time, Educate has shown itself open to criticism from the public. In September, following public pressure, the magazine retracted a book review, calling it “not consistent with the union’s policy on LGBT+ inclusive education.”
Therefore, it would be helpful to lodge a formal complaint with the National Education Union and, respectfully but firmly, demand that it withdraw “Children pay a terrible toll in Palestine” by Mohammed Aziz.