AN EXAMINATION OF CANADA’S PLEDGE TO STOP UNRWA TEACHERS FROM INCITING JIHADIST TERRORISM AND ANTISEMITISM
This report examines what Canada, in its new role as a major donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), should do to stop the organization from continuing to employ school teachers, principals and other staffers who support terrorism and antisemitism. Canada had promised to exercise “enhanced due diligence” on UNRWA, and assured that it had “robust control measures” in place.
The report exposes 60 Facebook pages operated by UNRWA schools, school teachers, principals, and other employees of UNRWA, which incite to terrorism or antisemitism. The report is divided by region, and includes UNRWA staffers in Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and Syria. These cases of incitement are additional to the 30 revealed by UN Watch in 2015. More examples are found by UN Watch every day.
The promotion of racial hatred and violence by UNRWA staff constitutes a gross breach of their neutrality obligations as enshrined in the UN Charter and in UN and UNRWA Staff Rules and Regulations. Even more alarming than the Facebook posts themselves, however, is the fact that UNRWA hires and employs racist staff, and places the education of impressionable Palestinian youth in their hands. Canada would never tolerate the employment of racist teachers in its own schools.
In the wake of Canada’s decision to fund UNRWA and its public commitment to hold the organization accountable for neutrality violations, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must turn its words into actions. At a minimum, Canada must demand the immediate dismissal of any UNRWA employee who publicly advocates terrorism or antisemitism.
Methodology and Scope of Research This report is based on information that has been displayed publicly on Facebook, obtained by searching for UNRWA-related key words. Because many Facebook users restrict their posts from the public, UN Watch was not able to examine most UNRWA staff profiles. Furthermore, because UNRWA does not provide a list of their staff, UN Watch researchers limited their review to Facebook users who specifically identified themselves as UNRWA employees, and to other Facebook pages publicly identified with UNRWA.
Accordingly, UN Watch cannot and does not represent that UNRWA neutrality breaches on social media are confined to the examples detailed in this report. The opposite is true. In our assessment, the scope of neutrality breaches by UNRWA staff is significantly higher than that reflected in the 60 cases in this report. If one counts the additional UNRWA employees who publicly endorse or share the offending material, the report implicates hundreds of UNRWA employees. Moreover, the report does not cover UNRWA employees who incite racism or violence in the classroom, but who do not post this information to their Facebook profiles.
Were UNRWA itself to examine its employees, on and off Facebook, it can reasonably be estimated that thousands of UNRWA employees would be implicated. “UNRWA staff is replete with Hamas supporters,” notes Michael Bell, Canada’s former ambassador to Egypt, himself an advocate of funding the organization.