After Watchdog Report, UNRWA Admits Educational Materials Rife With Anti-Israel Racism and Incitement
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which serves Palestinian refugees, admitted on Thursday that its educational materials contain exhortations to violence, hate speech, and terrorism that violate UN regulations.
In a statement by UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini one day after the release of a report by the group IMPACT-se examining the materials, UNRWA asserted that its educational curriculum — which is used to teach over 500,000 children — “emphasizes the UN values of neutrality, human rights, tolerance, equality, and non-discrimination with regard to race, gender, language and religion.”
The agency claimed that the inclusion of the offensive material was due to bureaucratic problems prompted by the shift to remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Unfortunately, in the rush to continue students’ education uninterrupted, some material the Agency had previously identified as not in line with UN values was mistakenly included,” the statement said. “As soon as the issue was identified, the Agency conducted a thorough review of the entirety of the self-learning material that UNRWA developed and took steps to address it.”
“UNRWA has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and for incitement to hatred and violence in its schools and in all of its operations,” it claimed. “Any breach reported is dealt with firmly. The Agency adheres, in its education program, to the highest standards of neutrality, humanity, and tolerance.”
Marcus Sheff, the CEO of IMPACT-se, commented, “After years of hearing UNRWA’s claims that it does not teach hate and has safeguards in place, we have for the first time taken a [peek] behind the curtain and what we see is shocking.”
“A UN organization has created radical teaching material that promotes violence, hate, and blood libels; has systematically distributed it to over 300,000 school children; and has not presented a plan for how they will retrieve it, if at all,” he said.
“It is time for UNRWA to finally come clean about its teaching of the radical Palestinian curriculum,” Sheff continued. “Platitudes about removing the Palestinian Authority’s problematic material will no longer cut it when UNRWA itself is part of the problem.”
The IMPACT-se report found the UNRWA materials 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 offers no content urging peace or reconciliation with Israel, presenting the Jewish state solely as “the Enemy.”
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 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 concluded that the UNRWA materials are “rife with problematic content that contradicts stated UN values” and lacks “any façade of UN-mandated neutrality.”