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June 29, 2022 2:57 pm
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UN Palestinian Refugee Agency Puts Six Educators on Leave Amid Accusations of Hate Speech, Incitement

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Palestinians pass by the gate of an UNRWA-run school in Nablus in the West Bank. Photo: Reuters/Abed Omar Qusini.

The UN agency for Palestine refugees has put six of its educators on administrative leave amid “allegations of hate speech” disclosed in a report issued last week by a watchdog NGO.

The report by the UN Watch nonprofit documented over 120 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) educators and staff promoting violence and antisemitism on social media. Titled “UNRWA’s Teachers of Hate,” the report also discovered 20 new cases of “virulent UNRWA staff incitement which violate the agency’s rules and stated values of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination or antisemitism.”

“Following the Agency’s review of all the social media posts referenced in the report, six staff members were put on administrative leave,” UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth revealed Tuesday.

In the announcement to donor states, Stenseth pointed out that similar allegations against UNRWA employees last year resulted in staff receiving “written censures, significant fines, deferment of eligibility for promotion, and in the case of daily-paid staff, up to two-year prohibitions on working for the Agency.”

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Stenseth pledged that the agency would uphold UN humanitarian principles and its “zero tolerance of hate speech and incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence.”

Commenting on the decision, Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, said that “teachers who call to murder Jews must be barred from the classroom for life, while these temporary suspensions are just a slap on the wrist.”

“UNRWA is trying to pretend the problem is now gone, while at the same time signaling to Palestinian staff — and to terrorist organizations like Islamic Jihad which pressed UNRWA to reject the UN Watch report — that they don’t really object to the virulent antisemitism of their teachers, which UNRWA and its donors know pervades the agency,” said Neuer.

“We have now exposed more than 120 UNRWA teachers and other staff who praise Hitler, glorify terrorism and spread antisemitism, and UNRWA has not given the name of a single one who has been fired,” he lamented.

In response to the dozens of antisemitic statements by UNRWA teachers detailed in the UN Watch report, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, last week called on member states to freeze donations to the agency until all workers responsible were dismissed.

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