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OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Palestinian education must be reformed

Israel must insist that an educational system dedicated to manufacturing terrorists be dismantled and rebuilt from scratch.

Palestinian Authority textbooks. Credit: Matzav.com.
Palestinian Authority textbooks. Credit: Matzav.com.
Gary Schiff
Gary Schiff is a Jerusalem-based resource consultant and guide connecting Israel and the United States.
Reed Rubinstein
Reed Rubinstein was the former deputy associate attorney general and the general counsel (acting) of the U.S. Department of Education under the Trump administration. He is currently senior counselor and director of oversight and investigations at the America First Legal Foundation

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, like the Soviets, Maoists and Nazis before them, use primary and higher education, structured extracurricular activities and religious indoctrination to develop their brutal terrorist cadres, including those that committed the bestial atrocities of Oct. 7.

This effort has been extremely successful. For example, UN Watch documented that 133 teachers and 82 other educational staff employed by the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA in Gaza clearly and actively supported Jew-hatred, terrorism and “martyrdom.”

International aid money, much of it from U.S. taxpayers, has paid for textbooks celebrating antisemitic violence and subsidized summer camps run by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad for approximately 100,000 young people that encourage children to kill Jews.

Indoctrination works. Many of the children who went through the Hamas/UNRWA educational system have grown up to be willing rapists and murderers. There is a recording of a phone conversation from Oct. 7 in which an 18-year-old Hamas terrorist screams with joy because he had killed ten Jews “with my own hands.” He was calling from a cell phone taken from a woman he had just killed. His mother answers back, “God bless you, my son.” 

These monsters were not born this way. They were groomed from an early age. There were provisions in the Oslo Accords intended to prevent such indoctrination, but nothing was done to stop the Palestinians’ blatant violation of these provisions, save for the Trump administration’s decision to stop funding UNRWA and the P.A. 

In a horrible irony, the United States, European nations and others are bankrolling this manufacture of terrorists. Some $1.6 billion a year goes to UNRWA, most of it to education. Under the Biden administration, the US taxpayer is the largest contributor. Thus, American citizens are paying to support a system of indoctrination that is designed to dehumanize Jews and wipe Israel off the map. At the same time, the administration is providing Israel with 15% of the defense budget required to fight the terrorists this system has manufactured.

Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee recently asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken whether Blinken could guarantee “that U.S. taxpayer dollars didn’t go to Hamas to help fund this attack on Oct. 7.” He added, “I’m deeply concerned here, and we need to be convinced that we’re not funding both sides of this war, that U.S. taxpayers aren’t put in a position of funding a vicious cycle.” Perhaps, if the Biden administration stops supporting UNRWA, America could save money on both ends.

Clearly, this absurd situation must end. When, God willing, Israel successfully eliminates Hamas, it will need to reform the educational system in Gaza and put an end to institutionalized incitement. A plan of action could include:

  1. Terminate UNRWA.
  2. Follow the model of the post-World War II educational reforms in Germany and Japan, which changed the educational system so as to promote tolerance and basic human rights. Israel should also explore examples from Muslim countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, where Jew-hatred has been removed from the curriculum. 
  3. Create a system of local control of education, such as municipal school boards, in order to empower parents and better reflect the extended clan structure of Gaza and Palestinian society in general. At the same time, extracurricular activities must be replaced in order to prioritize children’s physical and emotional development and eliminate incitement to violence and terrorism.  

These reforms are absolutely essential because as a result of the current system, Palestinian society is at a moral nadir. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reported on Nov. 22 that an Arab World Research and Development (AWRAD) survey of Palestinian public opinion showed:

  1. Overwhelming support for the October 7 massacre (75%).
  2. Near-total rejection of coexistence with Israel (85.9%).
  3. Commitment to the restoration of “historical Palestine” as a final resolution to the conflict (71.1%).
  4. Majority support for the creation of a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea,” thus eliminating Israel (74.7%).

The hard reality is that most young Palestinians—and their Western supporters—are celebrating the crimes of Oct. 7 as a great victory. This is because they have been taught to do so, and U.S. and European taxpayers are being forced to pay for it.

Israel grievously erred when it allowed UNRWA and other foreign donors to subsidize Hamas control over the Gaza educational system. Rather than hate and terrorism, Palestinian education needs to include an honest assessment of the Jewish people’s biblical and historical presence in and connection to the Land of Israel, as well as Israel’s positive impact on the world. The dehumanization of Jews by UNRWA teachers and Palestinian officials must end.

Israel, God willing, will soon have a chance to free the next generation of Gazans from the Hamas/UNRWA/P.A. miasma of hate and violence. The well-being of future generations, Jews and Arabs alike, depends on the success of this mission.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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