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UN schools glorify terrorism, demonize Jews

An UNRWA-created Arabic reading drill celebrates a Palestinian firebombing attack on a Jewish bus as a “barbecue party.”

Boys raise their hands at a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip, September 2011. Credit: U.N. Photo/Shareef Sarhan.
Boys raise their hands at a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip, September 2011. Credit: U.N. Photo/Shareef Sarhan.

Teachers and schools of the U.N. agency that runs education and social services for Palestinian Arabs “regularly call for the murder of Jews,” a new report by two Israeli NGOs finds.

Teaching materials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) “glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism,” said the report, titled “UNRWA Education: Reform or Regression.”

In December 2022, at UNRWA’s Al-Maghazi Middle School for Boys B in the central Gaza Strip, an UNRWA-created Arabic reading comprehension exercise for 9th-graders celebrated a Palestinian firebombing attack on a Jewish bus as a “barbecue party.”

At UNRWA’s Tel Al-Hawa Middle School in Gaza City, an UNRWA-created social studies lesson posted in September 2022 instilled in 9th-grade students the message that “armed struggle” against Israel is a “divine right.”

Released by U.N. Watch and the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), the report says that hatred is “systemic” at UNRWA, and its internal self-auditing mechanisms are not sufficient.

It uncovered 47 new cases of incitement by UNRWA staff, in violation of the agency’s stated policies of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination or antisemitism in its schools and educational materials.

It identified 133 UNRWA teachers and staff who promoted hatred and violence on social media, and an additional 82 UNRWA teachers and other staff affiliated with more than 30 UNRWA schools involved in “drafting, supervising, approving, printing and distributing hateful content to students.”

The report’s findings contradicted recent statements and promises made by UNRWA to donor nations, the report said. For example, it promised to flag problematic content in textbooks and use maps that acknowledge Israel’s existence.

“With a budget of $1.6 billion, nearly 60% of which goes to education, and a staff of 30,000, the U.N. agency might be the most heavily funded educational undertaking in the history of international aid. And yet our report today demonstrates how UNRWA has consistently breached its duty of care to the children attending its schools,” said Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se.

“UNRWA is obsessed with PR spin and fundraising but uninterested in the extremism of its educational network. If it had wanted to stop the hate-teaching, UNRWA would have done so years ago,” Sheff added.

The report was to be presented on Tuesday to the U.S. Congress, which is considering legislation to cut funding to UNRWA.

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