More than two years ago, US Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the US Senate Near East Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct an investigation of Palestinian Authority schoolbooks now used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Senator Risch ordered the GAO study after Idaho constituents introduced Senator Risch to the findings of the Center for Near East Policy Research, which purchases, translates and evaluates all schoolbooks that Palestinian Arab children learn from in all UNRWA schools, financed in part by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center).

UNRWA is an American issue.

The US is the largest funder of UNRWA, donating 30% of the $1.2 billion UNRWA budget; 54% of the UNRWA budget is allocated to UNRWA education.

The GAO completed its comprehensive report on UNRWA education at the end of April. Sources at the GAO confirm that the study conclusively documents that Palestinian Authority schoolbooks used by UNRWA work against peace and reconciliation. War indoctrination is a theme throughout the PA schoolbooks.

However, on May 3, Chuck Young, director of public affairs of the GAO issued a statement that the US State Dept will not allow the report to be released to the US Congress which had ordered the report in order to provide a guide to further US funding of UNRWA. Why? Young referred that question to the State Department.

I wrote to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. No answer. I wrote to the new US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. No answer. I flew to New York and met with the staff of Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN. No answer.

A perfunctory answer emanated from an official of the US State Department, who referred the question to the GAO. The GAO repeated that this was a US State Department decision, not theirs. So the decision stands. The GAO report on UNRWA education is officially blocked from the media, the US Congress and even from the US administration.

Why would the US State Department not want to disclose what students study in US-funded UNRWA schools? After all, these schoolbooks reach half a million UNRWA students and are publicly disseminated. The books all appear on the Internet. Why should the content of UNRWA schoolbooks not be disclosed?

Publication of such a GAO report would make it very difficult for the US government to maintain its policy that the nascent Palestinian Authority constitutes a bona fide peace partner; perhaps that is the reason that the topic of education is not being mentioned in the reports that have surfaced concerning the new US peace initiative.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, issued a statement about the refusal of the State Department to disclose the GAO investigation of UNRWA education, saying, “We urge this decision be reversed,” he said. “UNRWA needs reform. Even UN Secretary General Guterres said so. The idea that a study about what the Palestinians teach their children in textbooks should be withheld from the public is unconscionable and unacceptable. When textbooks reflect a rejection of the reality of Israel and the legitimacy of Israel as a neighbor, we will see another generation offered up by their leaders as cannon fodder and unable to accept a peace offer.”

The writer is director of the Israel Resource News Agency Center for Near East Policy Research.

SOURCEJerusalem Post
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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. 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, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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