Introductory Remarks by David Bedein, Director of Center for Near East Policy Research:
We begin the briefing with “Mohammed Assaf War Song for UNRWA”- short video depicting the singer Mohammed Assaf who is UNRWA’s official Youth Ambassador. His song repeatedly praises violence towards Israel as well as strongly encouraging martyrdom.
The second video depicts the rising attacks on Israelis since the 15th of September 2015 which caused the deaths of 33 Israelis. It names the main cause for this to be Palestinian Incitement at UNRWA Schools.
The Video features a number of interviews with students from UNRWA schools.
MK Yehuda Glick: Shalom and welcome to all, for those of you who are not familiar with me I am Knesset member Yehuda Glick. My office is the office of peace and that is what I try to promote. That is why when I see what we just saw it makes me very sad. It makes me sad that people grow up with an illusion that they will manage to frighten the Jews and scare them away. These people are still considered “refugees”. They could take part of the flourishing life that we enjoy but instead their leadership gives them an illusion and wastes their efforts. It is very sad when I see these children growing up this way. Palestinians could be a part of this flourishing high-tech country. Instead, they have a government that puts them under a false illusion which leads them to commit these horrible atrocities. UNRWA should have been an objective organization that promotes peace, instead it has become an obstacle to peace, it promotes the exact opposite. UNRWA’s curriculum is not one that educates towards peace. The leaders of UNRWA are taking your countries money and use it to teach children violence and hatred towards the State of Israel.
Mutaz Hijazi, a man who was taught in UNRWA refugee camps approached me and shot me 4 times from 3 feet away. I had a 2% chance of surviving my critical condition bu fortunately someone had other plans and I continue with my mission. We do not ask you to cut your contributions to UNRWA, we ask for more accountability.
Nobody is kicking anyone out, we want them to stop living in an illusion. These Refugee Camps should cease to exist, Palestinians should be granted full rights in their respective countries. In our eyes, 90% of Palestinians want exactly that.
If you continue down this line of funding UNRWA, you will not only be wasting your money but worse. You will contribute to the spiral of violence and contribute to the plight of these children. UNRWA should’ve been an objective organization trying to promote peace. Instead they are doing the opposite, being an obstacle to peace. The curriculum currently being taught by UNRWA is not a curriculum that wants peace. Your money is teaching hatred and violence towards Jews. I am not asking that you stop sending money but that you make it conditional so that we are not funding hatred but instead promoting peace. For the sake of Palestinians and for us we want them to live in a life of hope and not in a life of illusions.
If your countries continue to finance UNRWA without making these conditions you will be throwing away your money, not helping and condemning more people to suffer and lengthen the refugee’s plight. These children deserve a normal life but are being misled and mistreated. Jerusalem is the city of peace and if we have a place that is important to so many people we have a place that can bring about peace. Thank you very much and I hope you have a wonderful, significant and constructive day.
Bassem Eid, Palestinian Human Rights Advocate:
I think at this point we can stop blaming UNRWA. In my opinion, the ones that are to blame are the international community. I think that the donors of UNRWA must see the translated curriculum and evaluate it. On the other side, I didn’t see the media trying to talk about the issue. I think its important that journalists raise the issue. It looks like no one around the world is really interested in trying to find the solution. Everyone is simply surviving on the conflict. If the (UNRWA) camps will be empty one day, the PA leaders would lose their prosperity. I am planning to write something to the UN because there are elections for the secretary very soon. In my opinion, the UN , having been established to solve conflicts, has contributed to even more conflicts in the world. It’s time to start re-evaluating how to the UN handles conflicts.
Dr. Arnon Groiss, Leading expert on school books in the Middle East
I have been working on the subject since the year 2000. Since then, I have investigated several versions of Palestinian text books. UNRWA has the policy that it uses books issued by the government in the areas it operates in. This creates a problem. Those books issued by the Middle Eastern governments do not recognise the State of Israel. They do not even recognise Jewish holy places in the country. Israel does not appear on maps used. The whole country is referred to as Palestine and presented as an entirely Arab and Muslim place.
Demonization of Jews- Grade 7 text book declares that Jewish settlers came to Palestine with the clear intention to expel Palestinians. Israeli occupation in 1948? Grade 9 text books present Jews as wolfs that want to tear you apart. Grade 8 textbook presents Israeli soldiers to be deliberately killing children. Do Palestinian text books aspire towards peace? No, even language exercises speak of martyrs sacrifies and the liberation of Palestine. Others are encouraging Jihad. More example of encouragement for martyrdom followed.
What is right of return? It is based on the idea that Jews have no ties to this land. Their attempts to live in Palestine are described as greedy ambitions. A figure of nine million Palestinians is quoted in connection to the dream of coming back to their land.
On educational text books in Gaza. Clearly supporting terrorism as part of the armed struggle against the occupation. You can see clear anti-semitic, anti-Jewish, propaganda in these text books made by Hamas. UNRWA claimed that these books were not taught because they were not issued by UNRWA itself. Dr. Groiss’ research uncovered that UNRWA tests given to its students follow the Hamas’ curriculum.
Massad Abu Toameh, Palestinian journalist:
It is about time that everyone takes responsibility for what is going on. The PA curriculum teaches first graders to go and sacrifice himself. It teaches death before one knows life. Palestinians refugees are appealing for simple things whilst people in Ramallah are bathing in money. Your money ends up in Ramallah and not in refugee camps. They are making money on the backs of our people, every Palestinian family, whether it is inside a refugee camp or outside of it. People should be asking the refugees whether they want to go back to Israel. Do they want to live in the gutters, suffering from generation to generation, holding onto a key for the vain hope of one day living in all of Palestine?
Hate is there, we are fed hate! In the Arab social media, there is nothing but hate. The Arab world is sick and tired of our ongoing conflict. The PLO’s action are annoying them. In the meantime, who is suffering? Israelis and Palestinians alike! We should aim to get rid of the hate culture. My son’s first grade text books taught him how to die before he knew how to live. We have to put an end to this hate from day one.