The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for its ongoing failure to revise its long-standing, pro-terror, anti-peace school textbooks for Palestinian Arab children under its care that teach that the path for Palestinian Arabs to follow is that of seeking victory via “resistance,” jihad, and radical Islam.
The ZOA’s condemnation comes amid reports that the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted in favor of a motion supporting UNRWA, which lead UNRWA to tweet, “Second largest democratic parliament in the world reaffirms commitment to UNRWA. The European Parliament unanimously stands with Palestine refugees.”
UNRWA exists in its current form only because it operates under a mandate that uniquely defines as ‘refugees,’ not only Palestinian Arabs who fled the fighting and chaos during the 1948-9 Arab/Israel war –– which would be in accord with the standard definition of the term ‘refugee’ as applied in all other cases –– but also successive generations of their descendants. In this way, instead of the Palestinian Arab refugees numbering 30,000 today, their number is officially some 5.3 million.
This stands in stark contrast to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which uses a universal definition of refugee status that applies solely to those who actually fled their country or war zone during hostilities, civil war or similar disturbances and whose mandate is to resettle them quickly. Most notably, the UNHCR does not count subsequent generations of descendants of refugees as being refugees themselves.
Thus, UNRWA has hundreds of thousands of children under its care and the 500,000 in Palestinian Arab-controlled areas receive instruction from textbooks produced or authorized by Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) or by Hamas. According to a investigation by the Jerusalem Post, these textbooks demonstrate that “radicalization is pervasive in this new curriculum, even more so than its predecessor … the new textbooks groom young Palestinians to sacrifice themselves as martyrs. These are schoolbooks which promote hate, encourage a commitment to jihad and feature a radical Islamist, and occasionally Salafist, worldview. Young Palestinians are taught that martyrdom for boys and girls is a life goal, that dying is better than living and that jihad is the pinnacle of ambition. Those who risk their lives by taking up arms are praised and those who choose the path of non-violence are denigrated as cowards” (Marcus Sheff, ‘Time for UNRWA to face the truth about its textbooks,’ Jerusalem Post, February 17, 2018).
In 2017, the US gave $364 million, equivalent to a third of the UNRWA budget, while the European Union (EU) gave it $143 million. (Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states combined represented just 7% of UNRWA’s budget).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “UNRWA has shown over the years by its failure to reject or revise the educational materials being used in schools operating under its aegis, which promote hatred and violence, that it is very much part of the problem not the solution to the ongoing Arab war on Israel.
“At the very least, even with its absurd, indefinite mandate for maintaining Palestinian Arab refugees and their millions of decendents in ‘amber’, UNRWA should be doing its utmost to ensure that the children being raised in their schools are taught peace, tolerance, coexistence and basic impartiality.
“Instead, UNRWA appears to have no problem with educational materials that teach that the highest national and religious duty of Palestinian Arab children is seeking death through the course of murdering Jews.
“This pernicious, anti-peace message would be scandalous wherever it occurred but its a particular disgrace to the eternal shame of UNRWA, that this is happening in its own schools.
“At last week’s European Parliament plenary session to discuss UNRWA, EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn said that ‘The European Union is convinced that the two-state solution is the only possible answer if we want to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East.’ If that is so, it is the height of hypocrisy and disgrace that the European Parliament should have voted to applaud UNRWA. Unequivocal condemnation would have been more suitable if the EU is truly guided by the objectives of peace and reconciliation.”