by: Itamar Eichner
Thursday, 14 January 2021 | A report published Wednesday shows that textbooks distributed by the United Nations’ [UN’s] Palestinian refugee agency include incitement against Israel and glorification of terrorists who committed atrocious acts of violence.
The report published by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) found that textbooks produced by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) include inciting material across all subjects and grades.
UNWRA has been left severely crippled in 2018 after the administration of US President Donald Trump decided to cancel all US funding to the organization, citing anti-Israel bias and misuse of funds.
The report shows that UNRWA’s study material frequently references and sometimes directly reproduces texts and phrases from the Palestinian Authority’s [PA’s] textbooks, which include glorification of violence and sacrificing of one’s life in order to defend the “motherland.”
Examples include Arabic grammar exercises that use the language of jihad [“struggle,” war with unbelievers (in Islam)] and passages that celebrate known Palestinian terrorists, such as Dalal Mughrabi, who participated in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in Israel, which resulted in the death of 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children.
In the past, UNRWA officials explicitly denied teaching students the curriculum from the PA’s textbooks that discuss Mughrabi, making the inclusion of these passages in the study material even more concerning.
According to the report, the UNRWA-produced material fails to mention possible peace with Israel, while the term “peace” is also never mentioned, neither as an ideal nor as a concrete goal.
The UNRWA study material also references discredited conspiracy theories against Israel and Zionism, which perpetuate hostility and hatred towards the Jewish state and its population.
Examples of this include accusations that Israel was involved in the 1969 Al-Aqsa Mosque fire, deliberately dumped radioactive and toxic waste in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and was systematically stealing Palestinian antiquities.
The study also found the UNRWA-produced material often refers to Israel as “the Enemy,” creating an “us versus them” dichotomy. In one math exercise, for instance, students are asked to tally the number of dead “martyrs” in the First Intifada [uprising].
The material also almost never refers to Israel by name, but rather to “the Occupation,” “the Zionist Occupation,” “the Zionists” or simply the “the Enemy”.
According to the study, UNRWA has adopted the Pan-Arab narrative found in the PA curriculum. This included terminology such as “the Arab Homeland,” “the Racist Expansion and Annexation Fence,” referring to the West Bank security barrier, and “Zionist aggressions” as a way to characterize military engagements between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The textbooks also refer to the territory that used to be British Mandatory Palestine as Palestinian, including the UN-recognized 1949 the Armistice Demarcation Lines.
The UNRWA-produced material also appears to ignore Jewish history, including historical Jewish presence in the region. The majority of references to Jews and Judaism includes allegations that Israel is striving to systematically “Judaize” Jerusalem.
Prior to the publication of the IMPACT-se study, UNRWA’s new Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a speech to the European Parliament that “there is no place for any provision that encourages violence, discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism. Let’s be clear, the glorification of terrorists is not taught in UNRWA schools.”
IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said that “in its branded material, UNRWA is a partner in radicalizing the next generation of children by glorifying terrorists, encouraging violence and teaching blood libels to Palestinian children. Mr. Lazzarini needs to explain how it happened under his auspices.”
IMPACT-se’s Chief Operating Officer Arik Agassi said, “UNRWA has for years refused to publish the content and method of study it uses, which it claims prevents students from being exposed to incitement in Palestinian textbooks. Now we know why.”
UNRWA stated in response: “An in-depth review of the self-learning material received by UNRWA students during the closure was conducted within weeks. It showed that content was inadvertently put into textbooks that the agency had previously flagged as inappropriate. To avoid the dissemination of content that UNRWA considers inconsistent with UN principles, the Agency has decided to upload all online learning materials to a secure platform. The platform will be accessible in the coming days.
“UNRWA reiterates that it has no tolerance for discrimination and incitement to hatred and violence in its schools. Any reported violation is treated firmly. The agency adheres to the highest standards of neutrality and humanity.”
Posted on January 14, 2021
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