Why Is the State Department Protecting Palestinian Terrorists?
In recent weeks, three important European players in the education of Palestinian children — the European Union, the UK Parliament, and the Finnish government — all took steps to investigate the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s school curriculum for evidence that it violates UNESCO standards of promoting peace and tolerance.
These actions were taken in response to the release of a report from the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) about the PA’s education curriculum.
IMPACT-se’s CEO Marcus Sheff said that his organization’s report was met with surprise and sometimes shock in Europe — from both the left and the right — because it reveals a system-wide effort to radicalize Palestinian students and deny the rights of “the other.” As he put it, “The right clearly has issues paying for the radicalization of children, and people on the left are particularly sensitive to teaching students about peace and tolerance, and teaching school children how to reduce conflict.”
But in the United States, the State Department has tried to block public access to a GAO report on the same subject.
In response to a different analysis of PA textbooks by the Center for Near East Policy Research, last year Senator James Risch (R-ID) ordered the US General Accounting Office (GAO) to perform its own study of the PA curriculum, which is used to teach most of the 400,000-450,000 school children in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
The GAO report was apparently so incendiary that its contents were classified.
Chuck Young, managing director of GAO, told The Algemeiner, “The report was released to the senator who requested it, on April 26. But the State Department determined the report needed to be classified and cannot be released publicly. GAO is required to follow such classification decisions. So it is available only to those with the necessary security clearance, such as Members of Congress.”
When asked why the report was classified, a State Department spokesperson responded: “We have to refer you to the GAO, since this is their report.”
“But they classified it,” corrected the GAO’s Young. “Not GAO. We don’t have that authority. We can’t tell you why they chose to do what they did.”
Still, the clumsy bungling from the State Department continued: “For specific questions about the content of this report, we refer you to GAO. With regard to the report’s classification, the Department does not comment on classified material.”
Oddly enough, the report — “West Bank and Gaza: State Monitors Textbook Content but Should Improve Its Reporting to Congress GAO-18-227C: Published: April 26, 2018” — was released on the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in. When asked whether the incoming nominee had been consulted or informed about the classification, the State Department had no comment.
But in his own Senate confirmation hearings on February 28 for the position of US Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, then-nominee Kevin Moley promised Senator Todd Young (R-IN) that he would report back within 90 days with a plan to ensure US tax dollars do not pay for textbooks used in UNRWA schools that “promote violence, hate towards Israel, and degrade women.”
“American taxpayers deserve to know what is in the GAO report,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R-NY) who has joined with other members of Congress to urge Donald Trump to declassify the report.
“It is an outrage that the GAO findings on the content of textbooks used in UNRWA schools are defined as classified when the textbooks themselves are public and largely funded by American taxpayers,” she stated. “The United States is the leader in providing financial assistance to the Palestinians. As such, it is incumbent upon our government to ensure that this aid is used to advance peace, and not to teach hatred and terror to half a million students in UNRWA classrooms. I am deeply concerned and call on President Trump to declassify this report.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, agreed. “We urge this decision be reversed,” he said. “UNRWA needs reform. Even UN Secretary General Guterres said so. The idea that a study about what the Palestinians teach their children in textbooks should be withheld from the public is unconscionable and unacceptable. When textbooks reflect a rejection of the reality of Israel and the legitimacy of Israel as a neighbor, we will see another generation offered up by their leaders as cannon fodder and unable to accept a peace offer.”
Sheff, the CEO of IMPACT-se, stated that the message of the PA curriculum “is purposeful and clear.” It is part of an effort that “presents war as a permanent phenomenon, a destiny. Palestinian children are trained to live with an ongoing war in which young people martyr themselves until the future day when victory is declared from the river to the sea.”
He added that there is “an intentional strategy built into this curriculum to keep Palestinian children on a low level of radicalization until the government decides to call them into action.”
One might see the knife intifada and the recent Gaza protests as moments when young Palestinians were called upon to do just that.
Sheff said, “Textbooks are real, they are physical, and they are a representative of the Palestinian government. Nothing has the same level of seriousness and authority in the students’ lives than these textbooks have. As such, they could serve as a barrier to violence — if they in fact taught respect for the other, if they informed the children that the PLO had signed agreements with Israel to work toward peace. But they do not teach this.”