A little review of history sheds some light on the predicament that Israel now finds itself facing.

In the beginning comments of Chapter 9 of Nathan C. Belth’s book A Promise to Keep (Times Books, 1979), an apparent devastating conclusion of a 1968 UNESCO study of the textbooks used in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools attended by Palestinian children was determined. UNESCO’s conclusion was that “a majority of the 127 textbooks reviewed by the Commission employed the deplorable language of anti-Semitism, distorted history, incited to violence, and were educationally destructive because student exercises (were) often inspired by a preoccupation with indoctrination against Jews rather than by educational aims.” In response to the report, the Syrian Minister of education wrote, “The hatred which we indoctrinate into the minds of our children from their birth is sacred.

One would think the UNESCO report would have stimulated an abrupt change in how Palestinian children were taught and a replacement of the textbooks that promoted vile falsehoods. It did not. The democracies that funded UNRWA, of which the United States of America contributed the most, continued to provide their annual contributionsOversight over what was taught, or the teaching materials was not exercised. A study by Arnon Gross and David Bedein referenced in a Jerusalem Post article (June 20, 2020.17:39) documented the ongoing demonization of Jews in the UNRWA “educational system.”

It is not just UNRWA schools that are involved in the indoctrination. In 2005the Foreign Press and Public Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel, Dr. Raanan Gissin, wrote a reply to me, after reading my paper that classified the teaching of hatred to children as a form of psychological abuse, since it resulted in an imposed arrest of moral development (G. Katzman. A Bioethical Analysis of a Form of Psychologic Abuse: Teaching Hatred to Children. Clin Pediatr. 2005;44:143-150 ). A portion of the Adviser’s letter stated, “The Palestinian communications and education systems – electronic media, newspapers, textbooks, etc. have been mobilized to instill hatred and enmity among Palestinian children, youth and adults, and to preach for “the liberation of Palestine with blood and tears”, and the destruction of the Jewish State. These harbingers of hatred and unrest are constantly adding fuel to the flames and inciting the

Palestinian masses to violence and martyrdom, through the murder of innocent people.” Please be assured that the Prime Minister considers a cessation of incitement to be a primary pre-requisite to any political progress.” Unfortunately, for a large segment of the Palestinian communitysuch a cessation has not been achieved.

A word about UNRWA-sponsored summer camps that have been operating for decades provides further understanding of the incitement to violence instilled in Palestinian youth. David Bedein who leads the Center for Near East Policy Research in Israel mentioned to me that there was no problem getting crews into the Hamas summer camps and filming them. Intense military training goes on in these camps with a specific message that the goal is to kill Jews and liberate “Palestine. An October 9, 2023 article in 7 Israel National News (7INN, Arutz Sheva), contained a recommendation to “Watch and see the breeding ground of the savage murderers who attacked Israel” on October 7, 2023The reader can view the video on the 7INN Arutz Sheva site or Google “The UNRWA Child Soldier on vimeo. In the video, one sees the radical Islamic concept of Jihad introduced to the youth and vigorously, malevolently promoted.

In the context of the indoctrination to hate and the incitement to kill Jews, the October 7, 2023 massacre is put into perspective. It is interesting that many participants in anti-Israel rallies on college campuses often wear patterned Kaffiyehs representing Palestinian solidarity but also often associated with militancy by groups such as Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Although multifactorial, it is quite clear that the UNRWA “educational system” has played a major role in the violence perpetrated by Arabs against Jews. There have been multiple efforts over the years to inform countries funding UNRWA schools to influence what is taught, so as to take action against the cancer of hate that has now metastasized to other countries around the world. There are efforts in Israel by groups such as the Abraham Initiatives, where Jewish and Arab children go to school together, to stem the tide of festering malevolence. Seeds of Peace is another group that promotes non-violence with the difficult task of changing attitudes and approaches held by older children. And there are other efforts to promote peace. Clearly, there is much work to be done in this regard. In the meantime, the United Nations and those countries that criticize Israel for its manner of conducting a very difficult military campaign should understand their own culpability for over 60 years of funding UNRWA’s significant contribution to the causation of the present dilemma.