Monday, 26 Sep 2022 - 1 of Tishri, 5783

Newly-discovered UNRWA school materials incite violence, promote jihad, antisemitism, says monitoring group

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According to IMPACT-se: 

  • UN organization’s school materials incite violence, promote jihad and martyrdom, and contain antisemitism.

  • US Ambassador to the UN told Congress last month that antisemitism in UNRWA materials is “a red line for us.” 

  • Material is kept off UNRWA’s new school education portal.

  • IMPACT-se met with UNRWA chief raising concerns over materials and lack of transparency two months ago.

  • In UNRWA material, dying as martyrs by killing Israelis is glorified. Palestinian militants are exalted for cutting the necks of Israelis. 

  • Material glorifies sacrificing one’s life and blood to liberate the entirety of Mandatory Palestine.

  • Jews are described as impure and inherently treacherous. Jewish people’s right to self-determination is described as a “major racist calamity.” 

  • Israel, a UN member state, is described as the “Zionist Enemy” and “the Zionist Entity,” and is omitted from maps. Students are told to label Israeli cities as Palestinian. 

  • Findings show that UNRWA directs students to hateful passages in Palestinian textbooks, which UNRWA claims it instructs teachers to skip.

Educational content produced by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, contains material that encourages jihad, violence, and martyrdom, promotes antisemitism, and promotes hate, intolerance, and lack of neutrality, according to IMPACT-se which obtained and analysed the material.

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) is an international research and policy organization that monitors and analyzes education around the world. iIt employs international standards of peace, tolerance and non-violence, as derived from UNESCO declarations and resolutions, to determine compliance and to advocate for change when necessary.  

IMPACT-se’s findings also show that UNRWA directs students to hateful passages in Palestinian textbooks, which UNRWA claims it instructs teachers to skip.

The UNRWA material does not appear on the organization’s new education portal.

  • A grammar exercise encouraging violence teaches that “the Palestinians sacrifice their blood to liberate Jerusalem.” Spelling and vocabulary exercises include sentences involving “Jihad warriors” against ‘the occupier’, commitment to ‘liberate’ Palestine, and “resisting the enemy courageously.”
  • One poem teaches students that dying as martyrs by killing Israelis is a “hobby.” The poem glorifies the rejection of a peaceful ceasefire during battle, presenting peace-making as a sign of weakness.
  • Islamic education portrays Jews as inherently treacherous, and hostile to Islam and Muslims. A grammar exercise implies that Jews are impure, and that they defile the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
  • Israel, a UN member state, is erased from UN organization UNRWA’s materials, with the entire territory being labelled as modern-day Palestine.
  • Students are tasked with labelling cities in Israel proper as Palestinian cities.
  • Israel is described as having been implanted by an imperialist, European, colonial, anti-Arab conspiracy with the goal of dividing the Arab world.
  • Islam is taught by accusing Israel of torturing Palestinian prisoners, and violently threatening their families.
  • False conspiracy theories teach students that Israeli policies include attempts “to erase Palestinian identity,” to “steal and falsify the Palestinian heritage,” and to “erase the cultural heritage of Jerusalem.”

Last month, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield discussed antisemitism in UNRWA education at a House Appropriations Committee budget hearing, calling it “a red line for all of us.” The United States is currently financing UNRWA to the tune of $338 million (332,7 million euros) annually, the majority of which goes to education.

An IMPACT-se review of UNRWA material in 2021 forced UNRWA to release a statement confirming that its teachers “mistakenly” produced and distributed “inappropriate material” that violates UN values, UNRWA then promised last year that all hate material it produced had been removed. This report proves that this does not in fact happen in practice.

IMPACT-se met with UNRWA’s Commissioner General Philip Lazzarini two months ago, raising concerns over hate materials pro²duced by UNRWA and secrecy over teaching materials. UNRWA says it now places all of its self-produced materials on its new education online portal to comply with transparency issues. However, this UNRWA-branded material was omitted from the website.


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