Study Finds UNRWA Educational Materials Replete With Antisemitism, Anti-Israel Hate, Incitement
A new study of educational materials used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which serves Palestinian refugees, has found that the materials contain anti-Israel and antisemitic racism, encouragement of terrorism and jihad, and rejection of peace with the Jewish state.
The report by the organization IMPACT-se, which monitors school curricula, claims that this content violates the UN’s own requirements set by the cultural organization UNESCO — which demand respect for the “other” and a commitment to peace, and which proscribe hate speech, incitement, and bias.
Contrary to these requirements, the report said, the UNRWA materials — which are used to teach over 500,000 children — encourage jihad, terrorism, and martyrdom, and present terrorists as heroes. No rejection of violence is included. Some of this material is copied directly from Palestinian Authority textbooks, which are notorious for such content.
The materials also present no content that urges peace or reconciliation with Israel, viewing the Jewish state solely as “the Enemy.”
There is no positive depiction of the “other” in the materials, according to the report, which depict non-Arabs and non-Palestinians in a purely negative way. Europe is demonized for the Crusades, and there is no information presented about the historical narrative of the Jews or Israel.
Israel is consistently demonized with lies and conspiracy theories, such as the false claims that Israel has sought to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque, dumps toxic waste in the West Bank, and robs Palestinian antiquities.
The materials place enormous emphasis on the Palestinians’ war against Israel, including anti-Israel rhetoric and exhortations to violence even in discussing unrelated subjects such as mathematics.
Despite the requirements of neutrality, IMPACT-se found that the UNRWA educational materials show a violent and uncompromising bias against Israel, adopting hyperbolic Palestinian talking points to do so. This includes referring to Israel as “the Occupation” and “the Zionists,” calling Jerusalem “the eternal capital of Palestine,” and calling the West Bank security barrier “the Racist Expansion and Annexation Fence.”
The materials often simply erase Israel and the Jews as a whole. Israel’s name is rarely mentioned, and maps of the region show the entirety of Israel as “Palestine.” Jewish history in the land of Israel and the Middle East in general is almost completely ignored, and Israel is instead accused of trying to “Judaize” the area.
IMPACT-se, which is based in Jerusalem and has also studied curricula in Israel and throughout the region, did note a few positive trends. Israel’s name is mentioned in a few more cases than was found in past reviews; some libels have been removed, such as the baseless claim that Israel is stealing Palestinian water; and some Quranic verses calling for jihad do not appear.
IMPACT-se concluded that the UNRWA materials are “rife with problematic content that contradicts stated UN values” and lacks “any façade of UN-mandated neutrality.”