Dr. Arnon Groiss

This week, the DAGEN newspaper from Norway commissioned an evaluation of the new “Human Rights Curriculum” that has recently been published in Arabic by UNRWA,the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the organization that oversees refugee camps and services for Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war, along with their desdendants.

The professional commissioned by DAGEN to evaluate the UNRWA “Human Rights Curriculum” is Dr. Arnon Groiss, a journalist and now a senior official of the Israel Broadcastng Corporation’s Arabic Radio Service for almost 40 years.

Dr. Groiss was the Director of Research for The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance, www.impact-se.org, between the years 2000-2010 and authored its reports on schoolbooks of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Tunisia and the Palestinian Authority.

Dr. Groiss holds an MA and PhD degrees from The Princeton University Department of Near Eastern Studies and an MPA from The Harvard University J. F. Kennedy School of Government, in addition to a BA degree from the Hebrew University’ Departments of History of the Middle East and Arabic Language & Literature.

These are the conclusions reached by Dr. Groiss:

· The books, entitled “Human Rights Curriculum”, are intended for grades 1-6 and each grade includes two parts – one for each semester. The number of pages varies between 30 (Grade 1, Part 1) and 77 (Grade 4, Part 2). Few pages are missing from the (photocopied) Part 2 books. The date of publishing on the front cover page of each book is 2010 accompanied by “Third Experimental Copy”. The inscription on the back cover page reads: “Mansour Printing Houses, Gaza, Telephone [Number] 08-2866705″. The photocopied books do not include the cover pages.

· The books are well organized and easy to use, with apparent didactic qualities both in form and contents. Each lesson deals with a specific theme using a story and pictures and accompanied by a variety of exercises and activities. In many cases, especially in books for the lower grades, images of animals, plants and objects are personified in order to bring forward the message. Typos are rare.

· Each book begins with the two-and-a-half-page Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations’ General Assembly – with no source. In some cases (very few) a sentence from the declaration is given as a support for an issue studied within a specific lesson.

· The content includes social, behavioral and environmental values such as: good social manners, mutual respect, tolerance, equality between members of the different sexes, races, socio-economic classes etc., personal hygiene, care for personal and public property, non-discrimination against the poor and the handicapped, mutual help, conversation manners, time management, freedom of expression and respect for others’ views, cooperation, respect for the law, integrity, protection of the environment, peace and non-violence, love for family members and friends, social responsibility, patriotism, equal opportunities, free elections, peaceful collective expression of views (that is, meeting, assembly, rally, demonstration, etc.), non-smoking, social activity through NGOs, respect for others’ feelings, listening, negotiation, peaceful solution to conflicts, the courage to admit mistakes, respect for others’ privacy, respect for others’ rights, recognition of the right to be different, the importance of education, the importance of order and cleanliness, respect for one’s parents, etc. The discussion of these values repeats itself along the grades.

· As one can see, the list is long and includes a wide spectrum of issues not necessarily considered part of human rights education. On the other hand, there are rights mentioned in the Declaration that are not included here, such as the right to social insurance, work, participation in directing the affairs of one’s country, etc., as these issues do not probably concern school children. What is also missing from this list – with no justification – is freedom of religion, religious equality and religious tolerance. In fact, the books are totally devoid of any mention of religion.

· The Middle East war is absent from the books. None of the values mentioned: peace, tolerance, peaceful resolution of conflicts, non-violence, etc. is given an interpretation in connection to the conflict. On the other hand, there are few references to aspects of the conflict – all presenting the Palestinians as victims. For example, an exercise includes a picture of two girls sitting next to a tent with a demolished house in the background. The caption reads: “A family whose house was demolished lives in a tent” (Human Rights Curriculum, Grade 3, Part 2 (2010) p. 34). In another example the children of Gaza fly kites “in spite of the [Israeli] siege” (Human Rights Curriculum, Grade 5, Part 2 (2010) p. 66).

· In conclusion, the books – if they are indeed used in school, which I could not ascertain – contribute to the creation of more tolerant atmosphere within Palestinian society (save for Muslim-Christian relations). Their contribution to a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is nil, if not negative.

David Bedein (born August 31, 1950) is an MSW, a community organizer by profession, a writer, and an investigative journalist. In 1987 he established the Israel Resource News Agency, with offices at the BeitAgronInt’lPressCenter in Jerusalem. He serves as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.

Mr. Bedein has also reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor RishonPhiladelphia InquirerJerusalem Post, and the Jewish World Review. For four years, Bedein was the Middle East correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010.

Bedein has covered controversial Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Mr. Bedein is the author of Where Has All the Flour Gone? The Whims and Waste of UN Palestinian Refugee Policy. The book documents Bedein’s years of investigative journalism focusing on the activities of UN agencies in Israel and the Middle East.

The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, in commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2010, the agency decided to focus on producing short movies, instead of monographs, and to film each aspect of the UNRWA investigations in a clear and cogent fashion. In that context, Bedein produced two documentary films on UNRWA: Inside the UNRWA Classroom and CampJihad in 2013

Bedein was active in the Israeli peace movement for over for 17 years.

In the 1980s, Bedein went to Ethiopia as part of a delegation to investigate the impact of the famine on the Ethiopian Jewish community.

Most recently, David Bedein’s organization has developed Btselem Watch, with its own website whose purpose is to introduce professional criticism and feedback to leading organizations which are described as human rights groups that operate in the political domain.

David has developed a speaker’s bureau which is offering speeches and presentations, live or via Skype.

Mr. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, the New Israel Fund, and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Mr. Bedein has also reported on all of these events and organizations at www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com.

Under the Direction of David Bedein The Center for Near East Policy Research and www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com have produced a number of investigative video productions. In July 2013 they released the film titled “Camp Jihad” allegedly showing activities and interviews in which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in its ‘summer camps’. This was not the first time he dealt with this topic. UNRWA released an official rejection of these claims, claiming the summer camp shown, and the people involved are not affiliated with UNRWA. In a November 2013 meeting between US Secretary of State, John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, parts of this film were shown.

A review of Bedein’s new book, Roadblock to Peace How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, can be found here.

Bedein has been involved in UNRWA Reform Initiative, which involves requests of donor nations to make reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein’s legal counsel articulated these requested reforms in a letter to the British government DFID Agency which helps UNRWA.  In March 2014, Bedein participated in an informal panel at the British House of Commons with experts on UNRWA education.

Since the publication of Bedein’s book, Bedein has discovered several new findings concerning UNRWA, Islamic groups that fund UNRWA Jews killed Christ…in the Palestinian Authority Christian Education Texts Used in UNRWA Schools UNRWA Child Death Cult Education.

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