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January 4, 2023 12:26 pm

UNRWA Leads to a Path of Violence for Israel, Not Peace

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avatar by Larry Domnitch


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

When UNWRA (the United Nations Relief and Work Agency) was formed In December 1949, it was supposed to temporarily tend to the needs of the approximately 600,000 Arab refugees of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 who were in refugee camps. Since the founding of UNRWA, the number of so-called “refugees” has increased to a staggering  5.7 million, according to UNRWA; according to PASI, the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, that number is 6.7 million. The refugee camps of the past have become cities.

Other than providing aid, are there other agendas of UNRWA?

It appears that UNRWA run refugee “camps” (cities) are perpetuating enmity towards Israel. Confrontation with Israel is taught in their schools, which have adopted the anti-Israel curriculum of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in violation of UN principles of peace and reconciliation.

UNRWA school textbooks contain many examples of indoctrination against Israel, and as well as the veneration of terrorists. Textbooks omit recognition of Israel. School books exclude any connection between the Jews and the land of Israel. It also appears that refugees are being primed for combat.

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UNRWA summer camps actually give young “campers” paramilitary training, preparing for future war with the Jews. The goal is the “right of return” — that is to bring Arab populations to cities and towns, and end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

UNRWA was supposed to be supervised by donor nations and Israel. That includes managing its school curriculum, which continues to indoctrinate and incite violence and terrorism 75 years after the establishment of Israel.

The donor nations and relief agencies that aid UNWRA have not meaningfully demanded a change in its policies, which support incitement to violence and the perpetuation of conflict.

The advocacy group UN Watch enumerated on how teachers in UNRWA schools express support for terrorism and Palestinian terrorist groups, and indoctrinate students to violence.

On July 15, 2022, Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch, tweeted that his organization has “easily identified 120 UNRWA teachers, school principles and other employees who praise Hitler, glorify terrorist attacks and spread anti-Semitism.” UN Watch decried the “exploitation of children as child soldiers” as a “form of child abuse and a violation of international law.”

William Deere, an advisor to UNRWA, responded that “UNRWA is an agency fully committed to upholding UN principles and values and has a zero tolerance for hate speech and incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

But UNWRA by its actions tells a very different story.

Realizing the extent of incitement in UNRWA schools and summer camps, the Trump administration cut US funding to UNWRA in 2018 for lack of “accountability.” The Biden administration has resumed funding, but only under the condition that its education curriculum is for peace.

In 1967, following Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, when the IDF took control of the Arab populations of Judea and Samaria and Gaza, school textbooks used by Palestinians rejected Israel’s existence and incited violence. But after being placed under the Israeli administration of COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories), new textbooks were implemented.

However, the signing of the Oslo Accords on September 13, 1993, which gave the Palestinian Authority control over education in the territories they administered, led to a steady deterioration in the curriculum. Incitement to violence against Israel again abounded, in what was supposed to be the beginnings of a process of reconciliation.

Today, UNRWA primes the next generation for conflict with Israel. UNRWA should be seeking real solutions to the rejection by Arab nations of the partition plan of 1947, according to UN resolution 181. Its leaders’ statements denying culpability belies their agenda, which is to allow the perpetuation of conflict as a wedge against Israel.

Larry Domnitch is an author and instructor of History at Touro College

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