Thursday, November 23, 2017

Definitive Legal Status of All Jewish communities west of Jordan River

• Attempts to label Jewish presence in ancient Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) as illegal and “colonial” in nature ignores the complexity of this issue, the history of the land, and the unique legal circumstances of this case.

• Jewish communities in this territory have existed from time immemorial and express the deep connection of the Jewish people to the land which is the cradle of their civilization, as affirmed by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and from which they, or their ancestors, were ousted.

• The prohibition under the Fourth Geneva Convention against the forcible transfer of civilians to territory of an occupied state was not intended to relate to the circumstances of voluntary Jewish settlement in their ancestral homelands in the West Bank on legitimately acquired land which did not belong to a previous lawful sovereign and which was designated to be part of the Jewish State under the League of Nations Mandate.

• Existing bilateral Israeli-Palestinian agreements specifically affirm that settlements are subject to agreed and exclusive Israeli jurisdiction pending the outcome of peace negotiations, and do not prohibit settlement activity.

Watching at Beersheba

It is hard to describe the feelings of being in Israel for this very special moment.

Particularly, that of being an Australian in Israel and more specifically, spending Tuesday in Beersheba.

Overlay that with being a Jewish Australian and words fail to capture the incredible symbiotic and deep connections that embody a relationship that actually goes back 102 years to Gallipoli as Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out.

Tuesday, however, belonged to a particular milestone event where we remembered and celebrated the centenary of the last charge of mounted soldiers.

Between 600 and 800 Australian soldiers – with hindsight, in one way all madmen – engaged in the seemingly impossible task of liberating Beersheba from the Ottomans and ultimately laying the groundwork for the future establishment of the State of Israel.

As crazy as it was, the charge succeeded.

And as many speakers pointed out, this was never supposed to be a charge. These brave Australians were not cavalry. They were infantry. The horses were supposed to carry them to the battle lines, where the intention was to dismount and fight as infantry.

The Turks were experienced fighters, not lacking in bravery themselves and had in fact defeated the Australians previously at Gallipoli.

And yet in Beersheba, two years later, the Australian Light Horse, with minimal weapons, weary after their many hours of riding through the desert, never having charged before, facing a force far larger in size who were well dug into their trenches and with heavy weaponry in place – took the risky decision to charge.

And so they did.

And they were brave.

And they were magnificent.

And they were victorious.

The commemoration events actually began the night before with an Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce reception at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

It is simply impossible to name everyone involved in all of the events and to acknowledge everyone – but one needs to start at least with an appreciation of just what work the Chamber does and how important it is.

Minister Josh Frydenberg laid the tone for the entire couple of days when he began by telling a story of Menachem Begin’s visit to the USA in the 1970s as opposition leader.

Begin, a fierce opponent of the then Israeli government when engaged in Israeli politics took an entirely different tone when outside of Israel.

That is, when travelling overseas, the internal differences were far less important than the overall relationship between Israel and in that case, the USA.

And so it was here with the Australians taking a similar position. There were no Liberal or Labor delegations. There was just one very large and high-level Australian delegation led by Prime Minister Turnbull and Lucy Turnbull and including leader of the opposition Bill Shorten and Chloe Shorten.

In fact, it was quite a testament to the relationship just how many Australian political leaders came to Jerusalem from both federal and state levels.

The reception itself was like a reunion. It was impossible to move more than two feet around the room at any one time, without bumping into old friends, supporters of Israel from over the years and people who truly came together to celebrate the Australia Israel relationship.

The day in Beersheba began early with the Battle of Beersheba and Sinai-Palestine Campaign Centenary Service at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

This was a joint Australian and New Zealand Commemorative Service.

Speakers included The New Zealand Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy who said: “The military campaign changed political conditions in this region in the most profound way. The bonds between Australians and New Zealanders forged at Gallipoli were strengthened in the campaign. It is only fitting that we should join together today in remembering their service and their sacrifice. We will remember them.”

Prime Ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Benjamin Netanyahu spoke beautifully too.

What was clear when it came to the Australia Israel relationship, and following on from Netanyahu’s trip to Australia early this year, was that the words expressed by the PM’s were not merely speeches prepared by their advisors, but that there was warmth and depth and a genuine friendship at play here and that on this for the Australians, it was bipartisan.

The Light Horse charge also proved decisive for the Zionist dream of a future Jewish state. Two days later, after word of the victory reached London, Britain’s Foreign Minister, Lord Arthur Balfour, issued a declaration calling for “The establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Prime Minister Turnbull said “They spurred their horses through that fire, those mad Australians, through that fire, and took the town of Beersheba, and secured the victory that did not create the State of Israel but enabled its creation.

“Had the Ottoman rule in Palestine and Syria not been overthrown by the Australians and the New Zealanders, the Balfour declaration would have been empty words,” he added. “But this was a step for the creation of Israel.”

Although at one point Prime Minister Turnbull did make the audience hold its collective breath when he referred to “Bill the Bastard” … until he made clear that he was referring to a particularly special horse that took part in the campaign 100 years ago.

Then there was the parade down the central street of Beersheba by the Diggers on horseback – so great to see.

The re-enactment of the charge itself also turned out to be a celebration of music from that period and a description by Kelvin Crombie of the historical implications of the charge. As he described it, “leading to the creation of five Arab States and tiny Israel”.

Crombie also quoted from Martin Luther King who said: “Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvellous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality. Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.”

The sight of over 100 Australians in uniform on horseback was indeed something to behold. And when overlaid with the strong personal and familial ties some of the riders had with the original Light Horse, I am sure that no one who was there will ever forget that moment.

The day concluded with an Australian service and huge Aussie barbecue at the Park of the Australian soldier. And what a barbecue it was.

Beersheba had done its job and provided us with wonderful weather all day and the evening was no different – stories were exchanged, strangers became friends and the good atmosphere flowed.

Each conversation only exceeded the previous one in the joy of listening to and speaking with true friends of the State of Israel, express their oh so positive views.

Special mention must be made of the Pratt Foundation who had put so much into these centenary events and who played such a generous role in enabling all of us to appreciate them.

We will always remember the ANZACS of 100 years ago and we will also remember always, the privilege of being able to be present for this Centenary.

There was never a day of personal experience, to be a more proud Australian Jewish Zionist – for all of those intertwining elements and their deepest meanings – than October 31 2017.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

In the footsteps of heroes

Top: Peta Flynn, Doris Paton Bottom: Adrian Hepi, Judith Ahmat

Among the thousands of visitors to Israel for the centenary commemorations of the Anzac liberation of Beersheba are Aborigine descendants of the original soldiers who took part in the battles.

Hosted by KKL Israel and JNF Australia these five family members have had an extensive tour of Israel seeing for themselves the places where their ancestors fought to liberate Palestine from Ottoman occupation. In addition they have been able to witness the remarkable revival that has occurred in previously barren sites thanks to the rehabilitation, tree planting and development projects undertaken by KKL-JNF.

Visits to the Commonwealth War Cemeteries on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, and at Beersheba were emotional highlights. As first time visitors to Israel they have been “blown away” by the sights and sounds and vibrancy of the country and marveled at its smallness as compared to the vast continent of Australia.

I had the opportunity of catching up with them in Jerusalem and hearing about their observations and experiences.

I learnt that 100 years ago the indigenous people of Australia suffered discrimination and that this was a major contributing factor in the decision of young Aborigine men to join the army. They hoped that by doing so it would afford them an opportunity to see the world and escape from an environment which treated them so badly. As expert horse handlers their skills were much sought after and they rapidly became known as fearless and brave warriors. Apparently these heroes hoped and believed that their contributions to the war effort and their sacrifices would ensure acceptance back home. Unfortunately it seems that this was not to be and it was not until many years later that they were accepted as citizens of Australia with full civic rights.

Today’s descendants feel very deeply about the belated recognition afforded their soldier ancestors. In many ways this trip and participation in the memorial ceremonies is the closing of a circle. Finally they can pay tribute in person to the valour of their ancestors, witness how respected their bravery is honoured in Israel and see at first hand how the Anzacs’ liberation of Palestine resulted in the restoration of Jewish sovereignty. The affinity of the Aborigine people with the Jewish people has much to do with a common history of discrimination, oppression and courage under the most trying circumstances.

KKL Israel and JNF Australia are to be commended for enabling these visitors to join in this most memorable occasion and affording them the opportunity of paying tribute to the heroes from “down under.”

Here is a brief summary of the families:

Peta Flynn:

Great niece of Charles Fitzroy Stafford of the 12th. Light Horse Regiment.  Peta said: “I believe that the service and sacrifice of Indigenous Australians in WW1 needs to be acknowledged & remembered.”

Doris Paton:

Great Granddaughter of David Mullett  – 1st. Remount Unit ,No.2 Squadron. Doris commented: “The story of our great grandfather, his accomplishments in education and his life after returning has remained in the memories of my father and aunty and shared in the family.”

Terry Hutchinson

Adrian Hepi: 

Son in law of Colin Victor Leftwich, nephew of Harry Doyle – 11th. Light Horse Regiment. Adrian said: “I started doing a research project with the young people I was working with to honour the Black Diggers of WW1. I am committed to passing on the family history and stories to my children and grandchildren. I believe this is foundational for their sense of identity and strength of spirit.” 

Judith Ahmat:

Great Niece of Allan McDonald –  8th. Light Horse Regiment. Judith said: “I believe that Uncle Allan’s skills, knowledge and bush experience assisted with his survival. Uncle Allan married late in life and had no children and no direct descendants, therefore his legacy needs to be preserved and his story needs to be told.”

Terry Hutchinson: Great nephew of brothers Ernest James Firth – 1st. Light Horse Regiment; Francis Walter Bertie Firth – 2nd. Light Horse Regiment; Ernest James Firth – 1st Light Horse Regiment.

Ernest is buried in Beersheba.

Terry told J-Wire: “I feel excited and honoured to be part of this project. It means I will be the only member of my family to visit Ernie’s grave. I will pay my respects and gratitude.”

The Balfour Declaration: Did the British Promise Palestine to the Jews and Arabs?

On November 2, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Sent by British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour in a letter to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, it read:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

The Importance of the Balfour Declaration for the Jewish People

For the Jews, this meant the British were supporting their dream of reestablishing a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel. At the San Remo Conference in San Remo, Italy, in April 1920, the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers delineated the exact boundaries of the countries they had conquered at the end of World War I, and resolved that the Balfour Declaration would be incorporated in The Treaty of Peace with Turkey.

When the League of Nations formally confirmed the Mandate for Palestine in July 24, 1922, this acknowledged a pre-existing historical right of the Jews to the Land of Israel that they had never relinquished, as former Israeli ambassador Dore Gold noted. The Jewish people had been sovereign in the land for a thousand years until many were driven into exile. When the Muslims invaded Palestine in 634, ending four centuries of conflict between Persia and Rome, Israeli diplomat Yaakov Herzog noted, they found direct descendants of Jews who had lived in the country since the time of Joshua bin Nun, the man who led the Israelites into the Land of Canaan. This means that for 2,000 years, Jews and Christians constituted the majority of the indigenous population of Palestine, while the Bedouins were the ruling class under the Damascene caliphate.

Arab Response to the Balfour Declaration

The Arabs viewed the Balfour Declaration as a betrayal. The Balfour Declaration did not mention the Arab rights or Arab right to the land, only that the “civil and religious” rights of the inhabitants of Palestine are to be protected.

Reverend James Parkes, a pioneer in the study of anti-Semitism and the history of the Jewish people, countered that the British “did not ‘give away what belonged to the Arab people’; for it had already refused to recognize… on historical grounds, that the Arab claim to be exclusive owners of the country was justified.”

Furthermore, the British were quite clear that Palestine was not a state, but rather the name of a geographical area, asserts Eli Hertz. When the First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations met in Jerusalem in February 1919 to select Palestinian Arab representatives for the Paris Peace Conference, they adopted the following resolution: “We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.” There is no mention of the national rights of the Arab people.

Hertz adds that prior to Jews referring to themselves as Israelis in 1948,  the term Palestine applied almost entirely to institutions established by Jews: The Jerusalem Post, founded in 1932, was called The Palestine Post; Bank Leumi L’Israel, incorporated in 1902, was called the Anglo Palestine Company until 1948; Israel Electric Corporation, founded in 1923, was initially called The Palestine Electric Company; and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1936, was originally called the Palestine Symphony Orchestra.

Zuhair Mushin, the head of the PLO military operations department, described how the Arabs adopted the ruse of a Palestinian people to destroy the Jewish state: “There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political reasons do we carefully underline our Palestinian identity. For it is of national interest for the Arabs to encourage the existence of the Palestinians against Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity.”

Yet, the Arabs argued that the British promised Palestine to them, as a result of the correspondence between Sir Arthur Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, and Husain Ibn Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, beginning in 1915. In return for leading a revolt against the Turks, the Sharif would receive significant areas of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire.

A ‘Twice Promised Land’?

Asked whether Palestine was part of this agreement and thus a “twice promised” land, historian Efraim Karsh emphatically said no. “In his correspondence with Sharif Hussein of Mecca, which led to the Great Arab Revolt during World War I, Sir Henry McMahon…specifically excluded Palestine from the prospective Arab empire promised to Hussein. This was acknowledged by the Sharif in their exchanges and also by his son Faisal, the future founding monarch of Iraq, shortly after the war.”

Karsh added, this has not precluded “successive generations of pan-Arabists and their Western champions from charging Britain with a shameless betrayal of its wartime pledge.”

The Arab Revolt?

With regard to the Arab Revolt, Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, the chief British political officer for Palestine, remarked that the “Arabs of Palestine, far from contributing anything toward the ultimate victory [during WWI], actively opposed us and deserve no better treatment than others…”

Philip Graves, The London Times Middle East correspondent who served in the British Army from 1915-1919, declared, “Most annoying to anyone who has served with the British forces or the Sherifian Arab forces in the Palestine campaign…are the pretensions of the Arabs in Palestine to have rendered important services to the Allies…”

They “confined themselves to deserting in large numbers to the British, who fed and clothed and paid for the maintenance of many thousand such prisoners of war, few indeed of whom could be induced to obtain their liberty by serving in the Sherifian Army.”


A final note: In April 1931, David Lloyd George, who had been Prime Minister of England when the Imperial Cabinet formulated the idea of a national home, explained the justification for the Balfour Declaration: “The Jews surely have a special claim on Canaan. They are the only people who have made a success of it during the past 3,000 years. They are the only people who have made its name immortal, and as a race, they have no other home. This was their first; this has been their only home…. Since their long exile… this is the time and opportunity for enabling them once more to recreate their lives as a separate people in their old home and to make their contribution to humanity as a separate people, having a habitation in the land which inspired their forefathers.”

By Alex Grobman, PhD

Alex Grobman, a Hebrew University-trained historian, has written extensively in books and articles on the Palestinian Arab conflict. He is a member of the Council of Scholars for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), and a member of the Advisory Board of The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). He has trained students how to respond to Arab propaganda on American campuses. One student, who worked with him for three years, became president of Harvard Students for Israel.

Bedein at Balfour 100: 18 minutes of Insight

David Bedein: Balfour Declaration Centennial & UNWRA Supported Palestinian Hate Curriculum Held at Orthodox Union (OU) Israel Center

Vancouver Imam Urges Congregants to Finance Palestinian Terrorism

VANCOUVER B’nai Brith Canada is calling for a Vancouver imam to be dismissed after urging his congregation to give Palestinians “money, weapons and expertise” and that it was “an individual duty that we all share their Jihad and their struggle against the Zionists.”

B’nai Brith is also demanding that an inquiry be held into the actions of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and its Vancouver mosque, which promoted the imam’s remarks by sharing the offensive sermon on its official YouTube channel.

In an English-language sermon delivered on July 28, excerpts of which were published by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on Oct. 30, Tarek Ramadan of the MAC referred to Israelis as “an impure gang” and to Zionists as “the worst of mankind.”

He also said that, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, and all of Palestine should only be in the custody of the Muslims. It should not be in the custody of the Christians, the Jews, or anybody else.”

B’nai Brith has reviewed Ramadan’s entire speech, which is still available on the mosque’s YouTube channel, and has independently verified that all Arabic terms were translated correctly by MEMRI.

“This is an extremely serious development, especially in light of similar incidents at other mosques in Vancouver and across Canada,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Raising funds for terrorist activities has no place in any house of worship, and the MAC must move swiftly to dismiss this imam.

“Authorities have a duty to investigate this matter.”

In September, a Canada Revenue Agency audit of another Vancouver mosque revealed that it was “controlled or influenced” by a Qatari foundation that helped finance Hamas, a notorious terrorist group. In an uncanny parallel to Ramadan’s comments, the website of the Islamic Society of British Columbia also contained links to a site urging “violent Jihad” against Jews.

Ramadan’s sermon, with its references to “impure” Israelis and the duty of Jihad, bares a striking resemblance to speeches delivered in mosques in Toronto and Montreal during the past year, one of which has led to criminal charges.

B’nai Brith has filed a complaint against Ramadan with the Vancouver Police Department.

UNRWA- A UN Agency Encourages Children to Engage in Acts of War

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which serves Palestinian Arabs  who were  refugees from the 1948 war, along with their descendants,  is responsible for the education of about 25% of Palestinian Arab  students in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with 96 and 276 schools in those areas, respectively.

The books used in these schools are published and distributed by the Palestinian Authority (with some books added by the Hamas authorities in Gaza to be used in schools there, including UNRWA schools).

PA school books are characterized by three main fundamentals: de-legitimization of Israel and of the Jews’ very presence in the country, demonization of Israel and the Jews, and advocacy of a violent struggle for the liberation of Palestine – including Israel’s pre-1967 territories – instead of advocacy of peace and co-existence with Israel.

Within this last fundamental, school children are encouraged to engage in acts of war by way of presenting the violent struggle against Israel as an inevitable necessity, including the violent return of the refugees’ descendants to a liberated pre-67 Palestine, and through the veneration of Jihad, martyrdom and Palestinian individuals who participate in this struggle (called Fidais – those who sacrifice themselves, or martyrs and prisoners-of-war when killed or imprisoned). There are even cases when school children are explicitly encouraged to become ones.

The authors of this paper wrote a report in 2015 under the above title presenting the relevant material at that time.

Since the Palestinian Authority started in 2016 a new project of schoolbook publishing, with over 70 books having so far appeared, it was necessary to conduct a new research and write a complementary report based on these new books from which the following examples have been taken. It should be noted that the publishing project of the new schoolbooks is not yet complete and many older books are still in use.

A decisive element in the PA indoctrination in this context is the official anthems of both the Palestinian Authority and its dominant body – the Fatah organization – which are taught to students of the lower grades.

The first one reads:

Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my land, O the forefathers’ land
Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my people, O the people of eternity
With my determination, my fire and the volcano of my revenge
And my blood’s yearning to my land and my home
I climbed the mountains and waged the struggle
I overcame the impossible and shattered the fetters
Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my land, O the forefathers’ land
Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my people, O the people of eternity
With the winds’ storm and the weapon’s fire
And with my people’s insistence on waging the struggle
Palestine is my home and the road to my victory
Palestine is my revenge and the land of steadfastness
Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my land, O the forefathers’ land
Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my people, O people of eternity
By the dint of the oath under the flag’s shadow
By my land, my people and the pain’s fire:
I shall live as a fidai and continue as a fidai
And I shall die as a fidai until I return
Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my land, O the forefathers’ land
Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my people, O people of eternity”
(National and Social Upbringing, Grade 3, Part 1 (2016) pp. 15-16)

The Second:

“I am a lion cub; I am a flower [male and female members of the Fatah youth movement, respectively]; we gave the soul to the Revolution [Fatah’s activity]

Our forefathers built houses for us in our free land [in the past]
I am a lion cub; I am a flower; we carried the Revolution’s ember
To Haifa, to Jaffa, to Al-Aqsa [Mosque], to the [Dome of the] Rock”
(Our Beautiful Language, Grade 2, Part 1 (2016) p. 42)

A language exercise mentions favorably the Jihad fighters:
“The two Jihad fighters who raised the flag were joyous.”
(Our Beautiful Language, Grade 4, Part 2 (2016) p. 8)

Other pieces in the PA school books used by UNRWA present killed terrorists as role models to be followed: Dalal al-Mughrabi, who led the terror attack in 1978 on an Israeli civilian bus on the Coastal Highway, in which thirty five civilians – men, women and children – were murdered, is referred to twice. In Arabic Language, Grade 5, Part 1 (2017) p. 14 she is mentioned among the martyrs of Islamic and Arab history of the country. Another piece reads: “Dalal al-Mughrabi who led the Fidai ‘Deir Yassin’ operation on the Palestinian coast in 1978 in which more than thirty soldiers were killed” (Social Studies, Grade 9, Part 1 (2017) p. 74).

The violent struggle in which the Palestinian children are encouraged to participate includes the perceived “Right of Return”.

A poem titled “A Refugee’s Outcry” Reads:

“I shall not live as a displaced person; I shall not remain fettered
I have a morrow and tomorrow I shall march as a revolutionary/avenger [tha’ir] and rebel
I shall not be afraid of the storms when they sweep the expanse
And of the hurricanes that hurl black destruction
I am the owner of the great right of which I make the morrow
I shall reclaim it; I will reclaim it as a precious and sovereign homeland
I shall shake the world tomorrow and march as a singular army
I have an appointment in my homeland; it is impossible that I forget that appointment”
(Arabic Language, Grade 5, Part 1 (2017) p. 85)

Another poem, adding an incitement to exterminate “the foreigners” to the violent struggle:

“I swear! I shall sacrifice my blood to water the noble ones’ land
And I shall remove the usurper [code name for Israel] from my country and shall exterminate the foreigners’ scattered remnants
O country of Al-Aqsa [Mosque] and the sacred place [Haram]; O cradle of pride and nobility
Patience, patience, for victory is ours and dawn peeps out from darkness”
(Our Beautiful Language, Grade 3, Part 2 (2016) p. 64)

This latest incitement is accompanied by a gross description of the victims of the said struggle.

A Molotov cocktail attack on an Israeli civilian bus is described as a “barbecue party”.

The piece reads: “The neighbor: ‘The curfew does not include us in [the neighborhood of] Al-Sharafah. It is imposed on the Al-Natarish [neighborhood]. It seems that there is a barbecue party there with Molotov cocktails on one of the buses of the Psagot settlement…'”
(Arabic Language, Grade 9, Part 1 (2017) p.61)

That is only a taste of what UNRWA teaches 492,000 Palestinian children in its schools

The above is excerpted from the first comprehensive study of all PA school books used in UN schools, entitled

Schoolbooks of the Palestinian Authority (PA):

The Attitude to the Jews, to Israel and to Peace, authored by Dr. Arnon Groiss and presented by Dr. Groiss at the UN on September 27, 2017.

The full report can be found in English and in Hebrew on the home page of

Dr. Arnon Groiss, Research Director
David Bedein, MSW, Executive Director
The Center for Near East Policy Research

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What goes on beneath the surface of UNRWA facilities is not the problem

UNRWA does indeed condemn Hamas activity underneath UNRWA schools.​​

Yet UNRWA says nothing about Hamas activity inside the UNRWA schools.

Hamas, defined as a terror group by the US, the UN, the EU, the UK, Canada and Australia, won successive elections since 1999, to lead both the UNRWA workers union and the UNRWA teachers union.

Hamas influences generations of descendants of the 1948 war to engage in the ‘right of return’ through jihad – holy war – to take back Arab villages that existed before 1948.

New school books used by UNRWA teach that the Jewish presence in Palestine is “temporary”.

Since 2016, the name “Israel” has disappeared in all UNRWA texts, replaced by the expression “Zionist occupation”

UNRWA school books list thirty accusations against Jews starting with its usurpation of Palestine and the expulsion of the original inhabitants, through massacres, murder of Palestinian children, assassination of Palestinian leaders, aggression against neighboring Arab states, destruction of Palestinian cities and villages, desecration of Muslim and Christian holy places, mass arrests, attempts at the elimination of Palestinian identity and cultural heritage, besieging the Palestinians by the separation fence, damaging Palestinian economy and harming Palestinian society, and ending in perpetuating the state of ignorance among Palestinians and responsibility for intra-family violence and drug abuse in Palestinian society.

UNRWA school books refer to places inside pre-1967 Israel, such as Acre, Haifa and Jaffa as ones that are supposed to be liberated.

Though explicit support of terrorist attacks against Israel does not exist in UNRWA school books, such actions are implicitly encouraged by praising their perpetrators who are called “ones who sacrifice themselves (fidai)”.

Those who are killed in action, or imprisoned, are named “martyrs (shahid)” and “prisoners of war (asir)”, respectively, and are much exalted in the books. The newly issued books of 2017 emulate present-day terrorists:

The female leader of a terrorist group that perpetrated a massacre of thirty five men, women and children in a bus on Israel’s Coastal Highway in 1978 is emulated as a heroine and martyr in new text books.

A new theme appearing for the first time in the 2016 UNRWA books is the fate of the Jews in the country after its supposed liberation: the removal of the usurper (Israel) and the extermination of the foreigners’ defeated remnants, namely, those who will survive from among the six million Jews who now live there.

A new UNRWA school book describes an attack on an Israel bus with Molotov cocktails as “a barbecue party”.

Hamas takeover of UNRWA institutions and UNRWA staff should set off alarms regarding the possibility that the $1.2 billion donated by 68 nations may find its way to finance   salaries of Hamas terrorists.

Hamas’ Islamic Bloc operates in schools run by UNRWA in Gaza, with cooperation and support from UNRWA school staff and management.

The Islamic Bloc in UNRWA schools, known “Al-Kutla Al-Islamiya” (the Islamic Bloc) is the official wing of Hamas, which operates educational programs in the UNRWA schools in Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, from elementary school to junior high school.

On March 23, 2017, the Islamic Bloc, operating a special program in secondary and middle schools in northern Gaza organized a series of student activities to mark the 13th anniversary of the “martyrdom” of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas.

At UNRWA Al Fakhoura middle school, the group organized a radio stand in commemoration of the “martyrdom” of Sheikh Ahmed Al-Yassin.

On September 17, 2017 – Members of the Islamic Bloc visited the UNRWA Khan Yunes middle school and held a ceremony with its principal, Muamar Irhim al-Fara on the occasion of the beginning of the school year.

On September 19, 2017 ,– Members of the Islamic Bloc at the UNRWA C middle school, wearing Hamas scarves,  organized a student cultural competition in front of the school.

To dispel rumors of a change in the UNRWA curriculum, the UNRWA workers unions in  Gaza and Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem  issued a joint statement on April 23, 2017 vehemently opposing a report attributed to UNRWA from the Israel Civil Administration from March 28, 2017, which reported that  there would be changes in the UNRWA curriculum, including the removal of a map of Palestine that ignores the existence of the State of Israel.

The statement read: “Changing the curriculum is a national issue par excellence. We will not allow anyone whoever he/she is to challenge Palestine, the map of Palestine, al-Quds [Jerusalem], the refugees and [we will not allow] the policy of brainwashing our children.”

The  recent comprehensive study by Dr. Arnon Gross of Palestinian Authority textbooks used UNRWA schools found that they include content that advocates adherence to “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to the State of Israel, by force of arms.

The curriculum now used in UNRWA schools includes teaching songs that emphasize the violent return of refugees and mention the jihad in this context, presenting the violent struggle as the only means to liberate Palestine, while glorifying martyrdom in this context as a noble death.

An immediate, independent investigation is required to address  the presence of Palestinian terrorist groups inside  UNRWA, the use of UNRWA facilities for the purpose of terrorist attacks and rocket storage , as well as the transfer of UNRWA equipment to be used by Gaza terrorist organizations and last but not least, the indoctrination of the future generations to war

Aid to UNRWA from 68 countries can be conditioned upon changing a curriculum that teaches war, on the removal of terrorists from the payroll of a UN agency and on a commitment to rehabilitate the refugees into decent new and spacious communities, without waiting for a political solution, which is not in the offing.

While some  UNRWA donor nations may not be pro-Israel, it is hard to imagine that any western, democratic nations would underwrite an educational system that promotes total war in a UN facility.

David Bedein, MSW,, has  directed  Israel Resource News Agency since 1987 and has  administered the Center for Near East Policy Research since 2005.

He is the author of “Roadblock to Peace – How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA Policies Reconsidered” and “The Genesis of the Palestinian Authority.”

Over the past year, the Center conducted an examination and translation of all textbooks taught in all UNRWA schools, along with an its seventh investigation of Hamas takeover of the UNRWA schools in Gaza.

​The center’s PA /UNRWA textbook study was conducted with grants from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and The Middle East Forum.

The Center published and submitted its findings to the staff office of the UN Secretary General on Sept. 27, 2017, the day before Yom Kippur

Missing in action

Celebrations are an ideal opportunity for friends to gather and join in showing solidarity and friendship…writes Michael Kuttner.

We stand poised to commemorate one hundred years since the liberation of Beersheba and Jerusalem from despotic Ottoman occupation and the issuing of the Balfour Declaration by the United Kingdom Government. Both anniversaries are significant milestones on the road to restored Jewish independence in our ancient homeland.

Friends and supporters from “down under” as well as in the UK are gathering to join Israelis in ceremonies and parades. The Anzacs are still fondly remembered by older locals particularly those who interacted with them during the Second World War. The exploits of the Anzacs in 1917 however are less well known. Apart from those who have visited the war memorials or Commonwealth cemeteries scattered around Israel the contributions of soldiers from New Zealand and Australia is unknown.

Australia has been particularly active in keeping alive the deeds of their soldiers while serving in occupied Ottoman Palestine and that is why almost all the publicity associated with the forthcoming celebrations has concentrated on them. In fact the absence of any publicity about any New Zealand contingent means that the average Israeli is totally unaware of a Kiwi presence.

The re-enactment of the famous cavalry charge which defeated the Ottomans in Beersheba is being undertaken solely by Australian descendants of the original soldiers. This has garnered much attention and undoubtedly will be the highlight of the commemorations on 31 October. It is a pity that the absence of a visible New Zealand presence will mean that locals are unlikely to obtain a complete and accurate understanding of its contribution to the campaign.

Thousands of Australians are coming for the events. I have no idea how many Kiwis are coming but it seems to be miniscule.

This lack of a meaningful New Zealand presence is also reflected in the official representation being sent from both countries.

The Australian Prime Minister accompanied by a strong delegation will be in attendance. Originally the New Zealand Prime Minister was due to come but in the meantime the elections have scuttled that plan. The new Prime Minister is no doubt busy settling into office and her Foreign Minister is staying home. In the absence of any political presence, New Zealand will be represented by the Governor General who as the nominal head of State is apolitical and therefore unable to engage in any meaningful negotiations with the Israeli Government. Likewise the NZ Ambassador to Israel who ironically is stationed in Turkey will only be a fleeting visitor. It will be interesting to see what sort of message they convey as NZ still refuses to apologize for or withdraw its support of the scandalous UN Resolution 2334 which it sponsored with such human rights “champions” as Venezuela and Malaysia.

It is a great pity that at a time when friends are gathering to celebrate this momentous occasion and when Malcolm Turnbull will undoubtedly reiterate his personal and his Government’s whole hearted support for the Jewish State that New Zealand’s voice will either be absent or muted.

The historical revisionists are alive and active. Condemning and denigrating the events of 1917 is now in full swing. The chorus of those opposed to the very notion of a restored Jewish national homeland is heard on all sides. Led by Arab leaders and supported by others with the same agenda the exploits of the Anzacs and the issuing of the Balfour Declaration are portrayed as shameful events.

In actual fact both events marked a high point in Britain’s attempts to provide a safe haven for Jews and restore sovereignty to a Jewish nation. Unfortunately it all went down hill not long afterwards. Truncating what was intended to be part of the reborn Jewish State the British gifted territory east of the River Jordan to Arabs from Arabia. Ignoring the legally binding San Remo Agreement, endorsed by the League of Nations, the British Foreign Office, not for the last time, ignored its mandated obligations.

Overlooked and ignored by critics today is the fact that if the Arab countries would have agreed to co-operate and live in peace with Jewish Palestinians they could have achieved a mutually acceptable basis for coexistence. Instead, the Arab and Moslem world has been in a state of continual denial over its own implacable failure to accept the right of Jews to their own country.

The critics of Balfour on the hard left likewise refuse to recognise that Jews have rights guaranteed to them by the international community since 1917 onwards. The anti-Israel virus now infecting socialist and left-wing politicians in the northern hemisphere has already reached the antipodes. In Australia the Labor Party stands poised to recognise a non-existent Arab country called Palestine even though its raison d’être is the delegitimisation of Israel and the denial of Jewish connections to territory settled by Jews for over three thousand years.

Together with the Greens the supporters of this revisionist version of history have nothing but contempt for the promises of Balfour and the momentous events which it precipitated one hundred years ago.

Likewise we can expect nothing different from the new coalition in New Zealand. Some people are joyful that the new NZ Foreign Minister is perceived as even-handed on Israel. It will be interesting to see how quickly he falls into line with his partners.

Meanwhile back in the UK the leader of the Labor Party and widely tipped next Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn, will be missing in action. He has turned down an invitation to join Theresa May and Bibi Netanyahu at a celebratory dinner commemorating the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Abbas and friends are demanding that Britain apologize for this “criminal” gesture in 1917 and pay compensation for all the misery it has caused them ever since. My bet is that Corbyn will oblige with the apology amidst much groveling and abject breast beating. How long before others of a similar political persuasion follow suit?

Thankfully we have survived worse disasters than Jeremy Corbyn and his political allies elsewhere. As this coming week’s celebrations in Beersheba will demonstrate, the Zionist enterprise launched by Lord Balfour and the brave Anzac soldiers is alive and thriving.

In November we will celebrate the liberation of Jerusalem from Ottoman occupation by General Allenby and Anzac forces.

The City of David’s restoration to full Jewish sovereignty is thus the culmination of 100 years of prayers, hopes and action.

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.