The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants provides educational services to school children of this population in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. As regards the latter three regions it operates 274 schools in Gaza with close to 280,000 students and 96 schools in the West Bank (including 2 in East Jerusalem) with some 47,000 students in grades 1-9 (as well as grade 10 in some of its schools), that is, about a quarter of the Palestinian student body in these areas.
UNRWA uses in its schools the textbooks provided by the Palestinian Authority, which contradicts UNRWA’s commitment – as a UN agency – to neutrality and to peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as decreed by UN resolutions:
The PA books de-legitimize the existence of the State of Israel – a full member-state of the UN. They replace it both in text and on maps with Palestine as the sovereign state in the region, define its pre-1967 territory as “the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948”, and refer to it as “the Zionist occupation” rather than by its name. They also de-legitimize the presence in the country of its 6.5 million Jewish citizens, whose history and holy places there are denied, their cities – including Tel Aviv – are absent from the map or given Arabic names, and their language – Hebrew – is erased, literally, from historical documents.
The schoolbooks used by UNRWA demonize both Israel and the Jews as the source of all evil. Jews are also demonized as enemies of Islam from its very inception.
No peaceful solution to the conflict is advocated. Instead, the PA books used in UNRWA schools call for a violent struggle of liberation that is not limited by the 1967 lines. This struggle is given a religious character by using the traditional Islamic ideals of Jihad and martyrdom, and terror – such as the deadly attack on an Israeli civilian bus in 1978, in which over thirty persons were murdered – is made a central part thereof. The perceived “Right of Return” is also made part of that violent struggle. By teaching such material, UNRWA also betrays its obligation towards the safety and wellbeing of the Palestinian children and youth under its care, by preparing them for war against their neighbors. This kind of “education” should stop and the donors nations are expected to act accordingly.
The following are several examples taken from the textbooks in UNRWA use:
- “[Lesson] 2: Palestine is Arab and Muslim”
The lesson presents a map titled “Map of the Arab Homeland” in which the whole country is painted red, with the name “Palestine” appearing next to it and the Palestinian flag is drawn above.
(National and Social Upbringing, Grade 4, Part 1 (2020) p. 8)
- Jews are demonized as infidels and as the Devil’s aides:
“Where are the horsemen [who would ride] to Al-Aqsa [Mosque] to liberate it
From the grip of infidelity, from the Devil’s aides?”
(Arabic Language, Grade 7, Part 1 (2020) p. 67)
- There is no room for Israel in free Palestine:
(Sciences and Life, Grade 3, Part 1 (2020) p. 65)
- Terror is part and parcel of the liberation struggle. Following is the first page of a 4-page lesson that exalts the female commander of the terrorist attack on a civilian bus on Israel’s Coastal Highway in 1978 in which more than thirty Israelis – men, women and children were murdered:
([by] the writing team)
In front of the text:
Our Palestinian history is replete with many names of martyrs who have given their soul in sacrifice for the homeland. Among them [is] the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi who has illustrated with her struggle a picture of challenging and bravery that have made her memory eternal in our hearts and minds. The text in front of us speaks of one aspect of her struggle path.”
(Arabic Language, Grade 5, Part 2 (2020) p. 51)