Introduction

This paper is the final update of two former studies. The first one, titled “UNRWA’s Problematic Educational Role in the Middle East Conflict”, was issued in September 2017. It reviewed UNRWA’s role in perpetuating the Middle East conflict, having used for decades textbooks that delegitimize the State of Israel and the very presence of its Jewish citizens in the country, demonize both Israel and Jews in various contexts and advocate a violent struggle against it instead of peace and coexistence.

The said study covered the latest years of UNRWA activity and relied on some 150 textbooks in various school subjects mostly published by the Palestinian Authority (PA) between the years 2013 and 2017. In the meantime, the PA started in 2016 a new project of textbook publishing (and most of the 2016 books were republished – some with certain changes – in 2017), which necessitated an update. That was partially done by another study, issued in early December 2017 under the title “Israel, Jews and Peace in Textbooks Now Used in UNRWA Schools”. It was based on 102 books, mostly published in 2016 and 2017, with some 20 books having been published earlier, and reflected the situation in UNRWA schools during the first semester of 2017/18. With the accomplishment of the PA schoolbook republishing operation for grades 1-10 that same month, another update research was done, of which the result is the present study. It includes 118 books the vast majority of which were published in 2017 and replaced most books of 2016 (see the full list at the end of the study). As far as UNRWA is concerned, the present study is the last update. Further new books are expected to appear in the course of the 2018 school year but they are intended for grades 11 and 12 which are not included in UNRWA’s school system.

UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the refugees of the 1948 Palestine war – began its operations in 1950. Since then it has been present in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the territories of the West Bank (including Israeli East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. Unlike its parallel UNHCR organization that aims at resettling all other world refugees, UNRWA has extended the refugee status of the original refugees to include their descendants of three generations so far, while keeping them in makeshift camps under poor conditions and nourishing within them the false hope of their eventual return to their ancestors’ former places of residence in pre-1967 Israel. Thus, from a 700 thousand-strong population in 1948, the number of these so-called Palestinian refugees has by now exceeded 5 million.

Dr. Arnon Groiss, Research Director.

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