OTTAWA – There are new accusations that the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is inciting Palestinian militancy.
“The Palestinian curriculum taught at UNRWA schools is not a curriculum of peace,” said Dr. Arnon Groiss of the Center for Near East Policy Research.
“It is rather a curriculum of delayed war against Israel.”
Among the textbooks cited was one for Grade 7 students published in 2002 that contained a poem, entitled The Martyr.
“Hearing (weapons) clash is pleasant to my ear and the flow of blood gladdens my soul,” the poem reads.
Another Grade 7 textbook from 2011 teaches, “The coming of the Jewish throngs to Palestine continued until 1948 and their goal was taking over the Palestinian lands and then taking the original inhabitants’ place after their expulsion or extermination.”
UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said those are selective quotes taken out of context.
“On top of the ordinary curriculum of the host government, we teach human rights and we teach conflict resolution,” Gunness said.
Gunness says although UNRWA schools in Gaza and the West Bank teach curriculum developed by the Palestinian Authority, teachers have taken concerns about material to authorities for review, though he couldn’t provide examples.
“We have neutrality, checks and balances in our education system, which make it extremely unlikely that (anti-Israel) stuff will be taught in UNRWA schools,” he said.
There have been several studies of Palestinian textbooks, including one by George Washington University Prof. Nathan Brown.
While Brown concluded the textbooks don’t incite violence against Israel, “a far milder version of such criticisms – that the curriculum does little to support peace – would be accurate.”
Since 2010, Canada has limited its $15 million funding of UNRWA to food security and justice system development.