The Center for Near East Policy Research has concluded a research project of all PA textbooks used in UNRWA Schools.(1)
The report , authored by Dr. Arnon Groiss and Dr. Ronni Shaked , published and submitted to the UN on Sept. 27,2017, has simply been dismissed by UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness as “inaccurate and misleading” because 178 of the 201 books cited “are not being used in UNRWA schools.” (2)
The remaining 23 books, says Mr. Gunness in his statement, “are being used in our schools and we have reviewed them rigorously.”
The statement goes on to say saying that “in the small number of instances where issues of concern were found, we have created enriched complementary material for use in our classrooms”, presumably with a view to lessening that concern.
Bearing in mind that the research included the vast majority of textbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority (PA) for use in all schools in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as those schools in Jerusalem that follow the PA curriculum, and in light of the fact that UNRWA uses the PA-issued books in its schools there, it sounds quite strange that 178 of them were rejected offhand in this statement.
Mr. Gunness therefore explained that the ones published before 2016 were phased out, since the PA started a new curriculum that year.
Then he said that the books published in 2016 (the complete curriculum for grades 1-4) were just a “pilot” and, thus, are not used in UNRWA schools anymore.
That leaves 30 books issued in 2017 so far (more books are expected to be issued in December).
Does UNRWA spokesperson wants you to believe that his agency’s 276 schools in Gaza and 96 schools in the West Bank use only 30 textbooks for ten grades?
Moreover, as a matter of pure logic, older books are not being discarded so long as the newer books are not in. Since the new Palestinian curriculum is not yet complete, it would be quite safe to assume that the older books are still taught in UNRWA schools.
That is why the our report included both curricula. Besides, the report is not restricted to the present-day situation alone.
Rather, the report reviews a longer period of time stretching over some 3-4 years in which UNRWA has adopted in its educational work the PA anti-peace indoctrination.
Mr. Gunness claims that the books of the PA curriculum “were found to be free of incitement to terrorism”.
Indeed, the books used by UNRWA do not say “kill the Jews!”
Yet they just teach that Dalal al-Mughrabi, who led a terrorist attack on an Israeli civilian bus in 1978 in which over 38 men, women and children were killed, was a heroine and a martyr, and describe a terrorist attack by Molotov cocktails on an Israeli bus near the Israeli community of Pisagot as “a barbecue party”.
These are two examples taken from books published in 2017 for grades 5 and 9 which, according to UNRWA spokesperson’s statement, are taught in the Agency’s schools.
Books used by UNRWA in its schools do not say “destroy Israel!” either.
They just delete Israel’s name from the map and insert the name “Palestine” instead.
The new books of 2017 even stopped using the name “Israel” in the many demonizing sentences they feature and have replaced it by “Zionist occupation”.
Is Israel not a member state in the UN? Is UNRWA not obliged to be treated it as such?
Why, then, does an agency of the UN use schoolbooks where Israel is not on the map?
Mr. Gunness further stresses in his statement that UNRWA curriculum framework “aims to ensure that our curriculum is in line with UN values”.
Is a peaceful resolution of the conflict not in line with UN values? Why, then, does UNRWA allow the PA Jihad and martyrdom indoctrination into its schools?
Why does UNRWA not insist that the PA schoolbooks it uses contain clear expressions of peace and coexistence with Israel?
Or perhaps a poem verse saying “I will remove the usurper and exterminate the foreigners’ scattered remnants” (Our Beautiful Language, Grade 3, Part 2 (2016) p. 64) is in line with UN values?
The UNRWA spokesperson correctly asserts that the report includes PA schoolbooks for grades 11 and 12 that do not exist in UNRWA schools. The report indeed covers the whole Palestinian curriculum, not just UNRWA.
However, the conclusions of the report regarding UNRWA have been based on the books for grades 1-9 only.
The authors of the report were not sure about grade 10 and therefore were careful not to include its books in the UNRWA paragraphs of our report’s conclusion.
Following Mr. Gunness’ affirmation in his statement that grade 10 is actually included in UNRWA schools, take a look at a a significant a new textbook for that grade.
The book, Arabic Language, Grade 10, Part 1 (2017), describes a refugee’s visit to the Israeli city of Haifa. This in itself is not new, as the perceived Palestinian “right of return” has been taught in UNRWA schools for decades. The new twist, however, is that the refugees should return to a liberated Palestine after the destruction of Israel.
The concluding sentence of the story, on page 57, reveals that very clearly:
“Is he not crazy, the one who is driven out of his homeland and then is ready to return to it as a guest with the robbers who seized it?”
Even the “enriched complementary material” mentioned by UNRWA spokesperson in his statement will not be able to change this gloomy picture presented by the PA schoolbooks used in UNRWA schools.
It is a set of textbooks teaching social, behavioral and environmental values under the title of “Human Rights Curriculum”, introduced by UNRWA in addition to the PA books. These are great books, but they hardly touch the conflict itself.
The discussion of peace, tolerance, acceptance of the “other”, etc. is restricted to cases within Palestinian society alone. Thus, the contribution of these books to the issues of peace and coexistence with Israel is nil. (3)
This new comprehensive report clearly shows that UNRWA, financed by 68 donor nations, has to change its ways.
Instead of continuing futile attempts to undermine solid conclusions based on solid evidence, UNRWA should look more seriously into the materials it has inculcated for almost seventy years to over two million Palestinian youngsters in its various areas of operation.
Subjecting children to notions of Jihad, martyrdom, victory & return is dangerous to both nations and incompatible with UN values. The future of Palestinian children in its care should be UNRWA’s primary concern; otherwise, UNRWA would betray its mission. (4)
Concerned? Raise your voice with these nations that donate to UNRWA, beginning with the USA: https://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/donor_ranking_with_un_agencies_overall.pdf