Flashback to 1976.
I was then escorted with a delegation of social work professionals to visit UNRWA facilities in Gaza.
There, Dr. Eli Lasch,then the head of the Israel Civil Administration’s Gaza health department, explained that his life’s mission was to eradicate infant mortality in the teeming UNRWA Gaza facilities that had reached epidemic proportions.
Ten years later, after Dr. Lasch completed his assignment in Gaza, Dr. Lasch was credited with reducing infant mortality to nearly zero and provided with a citation for that accomplishment, by the World Health Organization.
In 1988, Dr. Lasch gave a series of lectures for the press in Jerusalem where he reported one of the greatest hurdles in saving young lives in Gaza were the personnel of the UNRWA medical services, whose stated policy was to maintain UNRWA medical health services at a minimum, so as to remind the descendants of Arab refugees that they lived in UNRWA facilities on a temporary basis, until they could be repatriated to villages that had left in 1948.
As a medical doctor, Dr. Lasch said that he was aghast that UN medical personnel wanted patients to suffer a bit, to experience the pain and indignity of infant mortality, so as that they could one day achieve the goal of realizing “ Al Awda”, the right of return, by staying in these awful decrepit conditions.
Fast Forward to 2012.
While the Palestinian Authority has witnessed unprecedented economic growth of late, life for four million descendants of Arab refugees who live inside or contiguous to their “temporary” UNRWA facilities has remained stagnant. UNRWA. the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which oversees the life of Arab refugees, premises all policies on a policy of adherence to the “right of return” to villages that no longer exist, UNRWA has even adopted school books of the Palestinian Authority for its half a million pupils, which “educate” Arab refugee descendants to believe that their only solution is to return to villages from 1948, by force of arms.
Yet UNRWA is not funded by extremist nations. Instead, UNRWA is financed to the tune of $1.2 billion by twenty western democracies, including $247 million dollars by the US each year to UNRWA.
Well, the good news is that funding by the US and the west means that they can have leverage over UNRWA
On January 26th, 2012, a leading expert on Arab education, Dr. Arnon Groiss, who has reviewed all of the 200 new school books used by the PA and UNRWA, briefed staffers from thirty congressional offices on Capitol Hill, in a session hosted by Trenton congressman Chris Smith(R-NJ). Dr. Groiss, a senior reporter for Israel Radio Arabic language service, holds a Princeton PHD in Islamic Studies, and sits on a US-Norwegian-Israeli-Palestinian panel whose task it is to review incitement in the middle east
Dr. Groiss presented the “right of return” curriculum used by UNRWA, in schools built by US foreign aid, and screened two films produced by the Center for Near East Policy Research that were filmed in UNRWA school facilities, which show UNRWA administrators, teachers and pupils espousing the right of return….
At the briefing, Dr. Groiss presented a dozen school books now used by UNRWA schools
Groiss noted that “Israel does not exist on any map.” In the UNRWA schools
The textbook for Grade 9, Reading and Texts, asks students to “reconcile between the following poetical lines and the feelings they express”: “The morning of glory and red liberty watered by the martyrs’ blood… the hope for the Liberation of Palestine.”
The 8th-grade version of Reading and Texts reads: “Your enemies killed your children; split open your women’s bellies, took your revered elderly people by the beard, and led them to the death pits…”
The 7th-grade textbook, Our Beautiful Language, features a poem entitled “The Martyr”: “Hearing weapons’ clash is pleasant to my ear and the flow of blood gladdens my soul/ As we as a body thrown upon the ground skirmished over by the desert predators/…By your life! This is the death of men and whoever asks for a noble death – here it is!”
The 5th-grade version of Our Beautiful Language includes a poem entitled “We Shall Return,” which inculcates the “Right of Return”- by force
“Return, return, we shall return/ Borders shall not exist, nor citadels and fortresses/ Cry out, O those who have left:/ we shall return!/ [We] shall return to the homes, to the valleys, to the mountains/ Under the flag of glory, Jihad and struggle/ With blood, sacrifice [fida], fraternity and loyalty/ We shall return/… To jihad in the hills; [to] harvest in the land.”
Other language in the texts appears to justify terrorism. A sentence from the 8th-grade Reading and Textsexhorts, “O brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and Jihad [Holy War] and sacrifice [fida] are imperative…”
In all these school books, All Israeli cities – Haifa, Ramle, Jerusalem, Acre – are shown as Palestinian Arab cities.
After the briefing, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Trenton) declared that he would conduct hearings on US aid to UNRWA, to condition US AID to UNRWA on the cancellation of school books used by UNRWA, which Smith characterized as anti-semitic, anti Israeland anti American.
Our agency asked US AID, which funds UNRWA schools as to whether US AID would review their curriculum. US AID responded that they would not do so.
However, US AID could easily place funds for UNRWA in escrow until “right of return” brainwashing is deleted from books used by UNRWA..if US and other funders required UNRWA to do so..
*Since 1987, David Bedein has run the privately funded Israel Resource News Agency and Center For Near East Policy Research, http://www.cfnepr.com/ . recently renamed the “NahumBedeinCenter for Near EastPolicyResearchCenter” in memory of David’s younger brother who died a year ago, after a bout with renal cancer. Under David’s direction, both agencies have chronicled the plight of Arab refugees who live in “temporary” UNRWA facilities set up for Arab refugees after the 1948 war. David is the author,of “WHERE HASALL THE FLOUR GONE: THE WHIMS AND WASTE OF UNRWA ARAB REFUGEE POLICY” and the film director and producer, “Palestinian Refugee Policy: From Despair to Hope”