A Jerusalem-based research organisation has written to AusAID’s office in Ramallah quoting passages in textbooks used in UNRWA funded Palestinian schools inciting strong anti-Israel sentiment. UNRWA is partially funded by AusAID who receive financial support through Australian taxes….and AusAID says the Australian Government supports “the important work UNRWA does for Palestinians”.

Jerusalem, JULY 2, 2013

The letter sent to AusAID Ramallah

To:Mr. Joel Thorpe, Head of Cooperation

Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) Ramallah
Trust Building, 48 Othman Ben Affan Street, El-Bireh, Palestinian Territories

Dear Sir,

Re: Incitement against Israel and encouragement to take violent means against Israel in the textbooks of the schools in the refugee camps in Eastern Jerusalem, schools which are supported by “UNRWA”

On behalf of my client, “The Center For Near East Policy Research Ltd.”, I hereby wish to inform you as follows:

  1. Within its framework, the Center has undertaken, in addition to its other activities, thorough research into the contents of the textbooks of the “Sho’afat” and Calandia” refugee camp schools in Eastern Jerusalem, which were established and are to date still supported, by the ”United Nations Relief and Works Agency” – “UNRWA” (hereby known as: “The Schools“).
  2. As proven clearly in the research undertaken by my client, the textbooks, which are taught in the schools and which were prepared, in fact, by the Palestinian authorities, incite against Israel, undermine its existence, encourage “The Right of Return” of the Palestinians by violent means, among others by “jihad” and blood, a process which is meant to bring about the destruction of the State of Israel (hereby known as: “Hostile Content“).
  3. Moreover, the textbooks used in UNRWA-funded schools never acknowledge any Jewish rights in “Palestine”, nor any Jewish past in the Land of Israel. Israel is almost never shown on any map and no city is ever identified as a Jewish city. Israel is delegitimized, and demonized in these texts and no peaceful solution to the Arab-Israel conflict is ever discussed.
  1. Attached please find an article written by Dr. Arnon Groiss on behalf of the Center, which speaks for itself.
  2. The following are a few quotations from the textbooks:
  3. “The number of the Palestinians in the world is close to nine millions… Four and a half millions live in the Diaspora outside of Palestine… Most of them are refugees who wait to return to the motherland after having been expelled from it…”

(National Education, Grade 4, Part 1 (2011) p. 43(

“The [refugee] camp is not considered an original home for the Palestinian refugee. Rather, it is a temporary place where he has been forced to live. All the Palestinians wait for the return of every Palestinian to his city or village from which he was made to emigrate.”

(Islamic Education, Grade 6, Part 1 (2011) p. 69)

“The “Right of Return” is part and parcel of the discussion of the conflict. It appears in poems and stories, such as the one in which a father is showing to his son the ownership deeds of the land they owned in the coastal plain and “the keys of our house which we were forced to leave by the Israeli 1948 occupation”, and the son promises to keep it.

Besides, there are language exercises using this theme such as the following one:

“Activity 2: Let us fill in the empty space with the appropriate noun…

The…[refugee]… dreams of returning to his homeland.”

)Our Beautiful Language, Grade 5, Part 1 (2011) p. 91(

  1. Especially interesting in this context is the use of poems in order to strengthen among the students the sense that the return is inevitable. The poems add an emotional dimension to the issue and reveal one of its characteristics that is not usually evident in other forms of discussion of the “Right of Return:

“We Shall Return

Tomorrow we shall come back and the ages shall listen

To the footfalls during the return

We shall return with the resounding storms

With the sacred lightening and the star

With the winged hopes and the songs

With the soaring vulture and the eagle

Yes! The thousands victims shall return

Victims of oppression shall open every door”

)Our Beautiful Language, Grade 7, Part 1 (2002) p. 3)

“We Shall Return

Return, return, we shall return

Borders shall not exist, nor citade

“We Shall Return

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

We shall return, O hills; [we] shall return, O heights

[We] shall return to childhood; [we] shall return to youth

To Jihad in the hills; [to] harvest in the land

(Our Beautiful Language, Grade 5, Part 1 (2011) p. 50)

(Emphasized by the undersigned)

  1. The terms Jihad, struggle and blood imply that the implementation of the “Right of Return” does not stand alone but rather comes within the wider context of the liberation struggle against Israel, which necessitates a few references to this latter issue
  2. In the light of the above quotes and as summed up by Dr. Groiss in his article:

“The manifestations of the “Right of Return” in the PA textbooks taught in UNRWA’s schools are not nostalgic literary pieces. Rather, as presented to the Palestinian students and shown here, the “Right of Return” plays a prominent role in the Palestinian political vision of a continued struggle against a delegitimized and demonized Israel until its eventual destruction. The educational services provided by UNRWA to Palestinian students thus help to propagate this non-peaceful line, in absolute contradiction to the Agency’s declared mission”.

  1. Therefore and given the fact that your country economically supports UNRWA, we hereby wish to make the following request of you:

10.1. To demand that the schools immediately erase from the textbooks any content which denies the existence of the State of Israel or undermines it, and/or encourages, directly or indirectly, “The right of return”, and/or the use of any violence of any kind.

10.2. To condition the continuation of the economic aid which your government gives to UNRWA on the erasing from the textbooks any hostile content as described above and to demand that the schools, without derogating from the above, do not and will not transmit to the pupils any hostile material orally or by any other including electronic means

10.3. If, despite the above, a school, some of the schools or all of them do not act in accordance with the above, your government will immediately stop the economic aid which is given them.

10.4. To demand towards the end of every school year ( around May-June), as a precondition of the continuation of the economic aid which your government gives to the school, a written confirmation from the Ministry of Education of Israel that the textbooks of the following school year follow the criteria as specified above.

10.5. This letter does not constitute a waiver of any claim and/or exhaust any claim of my client.

Sincerely Yours,

Chenia Schorr-Stolberg, Adv.

AusAID referred J-Wire to a 2011 statement made by an UNRWA spokesperson and told us: “ I am advised you will need to contact UNRWA directly to discuss the material it uses in its education programs.”

The 2011 statement: “Our curriculum and textbooks have been subjected to independent review. UNRWA in the West Bank and Gaza uses the books of the Palestinian Ministry of Education, which makes sense given that we are preparing students for public exams. A US State Department review of the text books used by UNRWA found them to be free of incitement, that the curriculum was “peaceful” and one in which “religious and political tolerance was emphasized”. etemplate.php?id=1088

The spokesperson for AusAID added: “The Australian government supports the important work UNRWA does for Palestinian refugees in urgent humanitarian need in the Middle East region, and will continue its partnership with UNRWA.”