Wednesday, February 8th | 17 Shevat 5783

May 3, 2016 6:30 am

Demanding Transparency in Middle East Education Policy

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avatar by David Bedein

UNRWA bags of building material used in Gaza tunnels. Photo: IDF.

UNRWA bags of building material used in Gaza tunnels Photo: IDF.

​Back in March, Dr. Anthony Harper, a correspondent with the Intermountain Christian News and member of the White House press corps, asked a question of the spokespeople of both President Obama and Vice President Biden, who had just returned from a Middle East tour. The question was straightforward: a request for comment on the state of the Palestinian Authority school system, whose curriculum is used for half a million students in the education institutions of UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency. The answer that Dr. Harper received had no basis in reality:

While there is still work to be done, the Palestinian government has made significant progress in reducing inflammatory rhetoric and revising official textbooks. Over the past few years, the PA has helped improve the Palestinian curriculum, including textbooks that discuss human rights and the Holocaust, which has contributed to a better education for young Palestinians. The Palestinian curriculum is transparent, and all textbooks are available for review in Arabic on the website of the official Palestinian Curriculum Development Center. The Government of Israel even approves of and utilizes the Palestinian texts for schools in East Jerusalem.

Consider the evidence that points in the other direction:

There is no change in the PA/UNRWA school books, which continue to promote war. (

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The Wexler commission on Palestinian education , which the US government partially funded, actually whitewashed  PA school books used in UNRWA, has been fully refuted. (

Films of PA war education in UNRWA schools speak for themselves. (

A  letter to US Ambassador to Israel Shapiro following a meeting of US Embassy officials at the Knesset, details indiscretions of US UNRWA/PA education policy. The US Embassy has yet to respond to five reasonable questions. (

The notion that Holocaust education occurs in UNRWA or PA schools has been revealed to be totally false. (

The human rights curriculum used by UNRWA and PA has little to do with human rights. (

Fortunately, the US Constitution relies on checks and balances in the  formulation of US foreign policy. From my informal meetings with officials of the all-powerful  Middle East Subcommittee of the US House Foreign Affairs  Committee and the Near East US Senate Subcommittee of the US Senate Foreign Relations committee, I can report with authority that there is readiness on the part of the US Congress to challenge US government assertions about Palestinian education, as taught in US-funded UNRWA schools.

Two key elected officials in the US Congress who must soon decide whether they will ask the GAO, the respected US General Accounting Office, to issue an independent report on the state of  PA/UNRWA education are Senator Jim Risch, (R-Idaho), head of the Near East US Senate Subcommittee of the US Senate Foreign Relations committee, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the Middle East Subcommittee of the US House Foreign Affairs  Committee.

With almost all political eyes focused on the US presidential election, the time has come to focus attention on these powers-that-be in Congress, so that elected officials on Capitol Hill will advise the US government and uphold the values of the Constitution. The moral principles of the American people would never allow a war curriculum to be funded by the US government.

Senator Risch and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen are now being pressured by those who support the status quo to do nothing. They need feedback from people of integrity, to ask for transparency in the conduct of US Middle East education policy.

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