Right of Reply to “Attacking UNRWA’ s Education System Risks the Lives of Students, JPOST Oct. 24th by Gwyn Lewis, UNRWA Director of Operations in the West Bank
Criticizing books used in UNRWA schools only helps Palestinian children stay alive…and their Israeli counterparts too.
“Palestine is Arab and Muslim” reads the heading of lesson 2 with an adjoined map of the Arab homeland replacing Israel with Palestine, under the Palestinian flag, in a National and Social Upbringing; textbook for grade 4, semester 1, page 8.
The book was issued by the Palestinian Authority in 2020, and is in use in UNRWA schools.
Since August 1, 2000, UNRWA only allows textbooks issued by the Palestinian Authority and published by the Palestine Liberation Organization to be used in the UNRWA schools which teach 321,000 students in the UNRWA facilities which operate in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem.
On United Nations Day, October 24, 2020, Ms. Gwyn Lewis, UNRWA Director of Operations in the West Bank, published an article in the Jerusalem Post entitled “Attacking UNRWA Education System Risks theLives of Students”, https://www.jpost.com/opinion/attacking-unrwas-education-system-risks-the-lives-of-students-opinion-646818 in which she stresses the importance of UNRWA education for Palestinian children who are fourth- or fifth-generation descendants of the 1948 war refugees.
This was distributed to all 67 UNRWA donor nations.
Ms. Lewis claims that any criticism of the textbooks they use in UNRWA schools, is not only unfounded, but also harms their chance to attain the great achievements guaranteed by UNRWA education.
Having meticulously examined hundreds of textbooks used in UNRWA schools throughout the past 21 years and authored several reports full of photocopied examples taken from the books – We suggest that it is Ms. Lewis’ claim concerning criticism of UNRWA textbooks that is both unfounded and harmful.
Let us be perfectly clear: we are not against the UNRWA educational system, which might be very useful to Palestinian children.
We oppose the indoctrination which teaches Palestinian children and youth that the State of Israel – a member in good standing state of the UN – as well its six million Jewish citizens should not exist (UNRWA removes their cities, including Tel Aviv, from maps in UNRWA schoolbooks), and that the solution to the present conflict is not peaceful – as advocated by numerous UN resolutions, but rather should come by means of a violent struggle of liberation which does not end at the 1967 lines.
Ms. Lewis must recognize that so long as UNRWA uses these textbooks, her agency betrays the UN values of neutrality and peace that she claims to pursue.
Ms. Lewis refers to UNRWA’s extensive framework of teaching that emphasizes human rights, conflict resolution and tolerance.
We reviewed the books taught in this framework, and we were trul impressed.
Unfortunately, the framework never applies these important values to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but them to Palestinian society alone.
Peace is taught, as expressed by young Abdel-Rahman Al-Shanti of Gaza whom Ms. Lewis cited – yet never as an anticipated solution to the conflict with Israel.
It is not peace with the world that is sought but, rather, peace without Israel.
And this leads to our final point – UNRWA’ s betrayal of its commitment to the well being of the children under its care.
The UNRWA indoctrination educates Palestinian children and youth to wage endless war against their Israeli counterparts, with disastrous effects on both.
Thus, this type of education imperils the very lives of Palestinian children.
This is precisely the opposite of what any agency of the United Nations should teach.
Therefore, we regard our critical work of UNRWA textbooks as our personal contribution to these students well being.
All 364 schoolbooks used by UNRWA can be found at our office at Beit Agron in Jerusalem. We encourage people who are concerned to examine the UNRWA books for themselves
In the interests of transparency and broad engagement, we have created a website with all PA/UNRWA texts posted, at paschoolbooks.com