An Israeli watchdog has found that educational textbooks produced by the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency continue to contain incitement to violence against Israel and hatred of Jews, despite promises to remove such content.
Instead, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has hidden the material by removing it from its public educational online portal, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) said in a statement last Thursday.
According to an IMPACT-se report, UNRWA-produced educational literature “contains material that encourages jihad, violence and martyrdom, promotes antisemitism, and promotes hate, intolerance and lack of neutrality”.
“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’,” the statement said.
The educational content, which was distributed in the West Bank and Gaza this year, does not appear on UNRWA’s new educational portal, even though it was produced by the official UNRWA Department of Education.
“They were drafted, supervised, approved, printed and distributed to thousands of students by UNRWA teachers and staff, whose names also appear on the materials as contributing to or supervising the content,” IMPACT-se said.
IMPACT-se noted that UNRWA claims that it posts all of its self-produced material on the website for the sake of transparency.
There was no immediate comment from UNRWA on the report.
IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff said in the statement that UNRWA promised last year to remove all offending content.
“It seems that UNRWA has interpreted this as removal from the website where it can be scrutinised, rather than removal from actual classrooms,” Sheff said. “UNRWA was again made aware of our concerns just two months ago.”
Among the content that IMPACT-se flagged was a grammar exercise teaching that “the Palestinians sacrifice their blood to liberate Jerusalem”, the statement said.
Other exercises include sentences about “jihad warriors” against “the occupier”, commitment to “liberate” Palestine, and “resisting the enemy courageously”, according to the report.
A poem teaches students that to die as a martyr 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,” IMPACT-se said.
Islamic education material depicts Jews as “inherently treacherous, and hostile to Islam and Muslims”, including another grammar exercise implying that Jews are impure and defiling the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Israel is erased from the material and the entire area of the Jewish State is labelled as modern-day Palestine. Students are given exercises of naming Israeli cities as Palestinian, it added.
IMPACT-se said its report shows that UNRWA material does not live up to its claim to align with “UN values of neutrality, human rights, tolerance, equality, and non-discrimination with regard to race, gender, language and religion”.
IMPACT-se noted that in June, US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield raised the issue of UNRWA textbook content at a House Appropriations Committee budget hearing and declared it was “a red line for all of us”.
There has been similar criticism of textbooks produced by the Palestinian Authority.
TIMES OF ISRAEL