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UNWRA Annual Report page 46/47

Provision of primary, preparatory and secondary education: Provision of general education to approximately 500,000 eligible refugee children in nearly 700 UNRWA elementary and preparatory schools (and secondary education in Lebanon).


The above total EXCLUDES the following

The Daily Signal Fred Lucas / @FredLucasWH / July 11, 2016

U.S. taxpayers provide nearly $400 million a year to a United Nations program that critics say sends anti-Semitic, anti-Israel textbooks to schools for Palestinian refugees.

An elementary school textbook calls the 1948 establishment of Israel a “disaster,” and a high school text tells of the “End of Days” when “Muslims fight the Jews,” among other examples in a report from the Center for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel research institute based in Jerusalem.

“The incitement that we see in these textbooks is shocking,” @RepDLamborn says.

The agency—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA—has come under scrutiny for years for supplying Palestinian schools with textbooks containing violent, anti-Israel references.

The Obama administration, however, defends the textbook program. A State Department spokesman told The Daily Signal that the books are part of “an education that instills respect for and appreciation of universal human rights and dignity of all persons.”

The program serves nearly 500,000 students in about 700 schools in the Palestinian territories, using the Palestinian Authority’s curriculum, according to the State Department.

The watchdog group UN Watch released a report last year accusing some of the Gaza-based U.N. agency’s employees of making anti-Semitic comments and celebrating violence on Facebook, providing 10 specific examples.

A U.N. deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, said in October: “These postings have been removed and the staff have been subject to both remedial and disciplinary action, including suspension and loss of pay.” He did not provide precise numbers.  

‘Full Accounting’

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Middle East, last fall sponsored legislation—the UNRWA Anti-Incitement and Anti-Terrorism Act—demanding that the U.N. agency provide greater accountability or face defunding from the United States.

“After investigating allegations first brought to light by UN Watch, the U.N. recently announced that several [of the agency’s] employees had been suspended for posting inciting social media posts,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a formal statement. She added:

The U.S. can’t continue to send $400 million to UNRWA while ignoring the systemic and endemic anti-Israel, anti-Semitic bias and the blatant incitement to violence we see from its employees. [Its] employees and facilities are consistently tied to foreign terrorist organizations and a full accounting of the agency’s affiliations should be required before another dime is spent on this divisive organization.

President Barack Obama’s administration contends that because of U.S. and U.N. pressure, fewer violent references appear in the textbooks, but admits more progress is needed.

Some in Congress say the textbooks continue to promote violence. A leading senator asked for an investigation by the Government Accountability Office, the internal government watchdog that evaluates how tax dollars are spent.

The United States is the largest donor to the U.N. program, contributing $390 million in 2015, down slightly from the previous year. GAO reports in 2003 and 2009 asserted “weaknesses” in the program, but said it complied with State Department guidelines.

The agency made $1.1 billion in expenditures in 2013; the European Union, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan also make significant contributions.

The GAO probe comes at the request of Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism.

“This is a matter with which I am deeply concerned and I have asked GAO to investigate,” Risch told The Daily Signal in a written statement. “I anticipate that the investigation will take some time, however, so I will reserve my comments until after I receive and am able to assess GAO’s findings on the matter.”

GAO spokesman Chuck Young told The Daily Signal in an email that he didn’t know the timeline for completing the review of the Palestinian textbooks.   

‘Political Agenda’

The ultimate goal is to withhold funding from the U.N. agency until it requires significant changes to the textbooks, said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.

“The incitement that we see in these textbooks is shocking. It’s an outrage and it shows that UNRWA has drifted a long way from its mandate of being a human rights aid organization,” Lamborn told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “They now have a political agenda. That’s not serving the cause of peace. In fact, it’s prolonging the conflict and violence.”

The State Department has advocated that the U.N. agency teach Palestinian students about tolerance and human rights, a spokesman said.

“We have long supported UNRWA for its critical and life-saving humanitarian work in places like Syria and Gaza,” State Department spokesman Julia Mason told The Daily Signal in an email, adding of the agency:

UNRWA also plays an important role as a stabilizing force and counterweight to extremism in the region. … We are committed to ensuring that Palestinian refugee students receive an education that instills respect for and appreciation of universal human rights and dignity of all persons.

The U.N. program’s official mandate is to “provide relief, human development, and protection services to Palestine refugees and persons displaced by the 1967 hostilities [the Arab-Israeli War, also known as the Six-Day War] in its fields of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.”

The agency has 30,000 employees, mostly Palestinian refugees and some international staff, with headquarters in both Gaza and Amman, and five field offices in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the West Bank.

The U.N. agency “is more a part of the problem than the solution,” said Jim Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation. He said the program has “promoted victimhood” among Palestinians for generations.

In 2015, the program established dedicated units responsible for reviewing and improving the textbooks.

‘Close Examination’

Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said of the textbooks in an email to The Daily Signal:

These have been subjected to close examination, including in studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of State, and found to be largely free of incitement. Moreover, UNRWA has in place a system of checks and balances to ensure that no incitement is taught in our classrooms. UNRWA has also put in place a systemwide Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, and Tolerance Education system in all 700 schools we administer, which integrates the concepts of human rights, tolerance, and nonviolent conflict resolution into the curriculum.

The U.N. agency has come under scrutiny on other fronts as caches of weapons, such as rockets, were found stored in its schools and medical clinics over the past several years.

Gunness, the agency’s spokesman, made a speech at Interpal, a British-based charity that has been known to fund the terrorist group, Hamas, The Washington Free Beacon reported in October.

Since the 1967 war, Israel—which defeated the forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria—has expanded to the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. Hostilities have continued in the region, including terrorist attacks by Palestinians.

In May, the Intermountain Christian News Service published a White House response to a question from correspondent Anthony Harper about the Palestinian textbooks.

In its statement to Harper, the White House said:

While there is still work to be done, the Palestinian government has made significant progress in reducing inflammatory rhetoric and revising official textbooks. Over the past few years, the PA [Palestinian Authority] has helped improve the Palestinian curriculum, including textbooks that discuss human rights and the Holocaust, which has contributed to a better education for young Palestinians. The Palestinian curriculum is transparent, and all textbooks are available for review in Arabic on the website of the official Palestinian Curriculum Development Center. The government of Israel even approves of and utilizes the Palestinian texts for schools in East Jerusalem.

A senior administration official confirmed this statement, but had nothing to add when reached by The Daily Signal.


Harper told The Daily Signal in an email that he also asked Risch, one of his state’s U.S. senators, to call for the GAO probe.

Lamborn, the Colorado congressman, said he believes the White House is “whitewashing” the U.N. agency. He told The Daily Signal:

I don’t see any progress myself. Even if there have been tiny baby steps of progress, UNRWA is still far away from where they need to be. Too many people in Congress defer to the White House and the State Department. As long as the State Department and the White House are not exerting any leadership, they are continuing to maintain the status quo.

The Center for Near East Policy acquired 240 new U.N.-funded textbooks for Palestinian schools, and in January presented the findings of its study to the U.S. Embassy in Israel.

The study concludes that the books promoted incitement to war, and have gotten worse. It says the focus of the textbooks published in 2014 and 2015 are about “delegitimization of both Israel and of the Jews’ very presence in the country.”

New York Post, by Fox News, January 6, 2017

Students attending United Nations-run schools in the West Bank and Gaza use textbooks that ignore the existence of Israel, according to a new report sure to fuel renewed claims about anti-Semitism within the world body.

The schools, which teach mainly Palestinian children, are funded by the UN’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and use texts from the Palestinian Ministry of Education. The books convey the ministry’s refusal to recognize Israel, as well as the message that holy sites like the Western Wall and the Cave of the Patriarchs are exclusively Muslim sites, according to the report.

“It is despicable that a UN agency is teaching Palestinian children racism and lies about Jews and Israel,” Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization, told “There will be no peace and no justice as long as Palestinian leaders, backed by the UN, continue to deny the history and rights of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland.”

Use of the textbooks was discovered after an investigation was completed by Arnon Gross, who translated the books, and Ronni Shaked from the Harry Truman Research Institute at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem according to Ynet News.

In their translations, the pair discovered that not a single mention is made of the historical connection of Jews to the land of Israel or the city of Jerusalem and that the UNRWA schools also make no mention of Jewish holy sites in their materials. Instead, the textbooks contain learning materials that say that these are all Muslim holy Sites that the Jews are trying to illegitimately control.

Children at the schools are also taught to negate the existence of the Hebrew languages, according to the report. One text has a picture of a stamp used during the British Mandate period which has Hebrew, English and Arabic writing. The image of the stamp in the book has been altered to remove all the Hebrew writing.

The researchers also discovered that maps accompanying the books contain no reference to the presence of Jews in Israel, with all Jewish cities and towns established after 1948 erased. Tel Aviv is even renamed “Tel al-Rabia.”

Hillel Neuer, executive director of Geneva-based UN Watch, said that the UNRWA is in breach of a recent agreement with the State Department.

“By teaching hatred and intolerance, UNRWA is in breach of the UN Charter, and of its just-signed agreement for 2017 with the U.S. State Department,” he said in a statement to “UNRWA schoolbooks that erase Israel and Jews from the geography and history of the region constitute a gross violation of the neutrality requirements applicable to all humanitarian agencies, and specifically negates provisions of UNRWA’s just-signed agreement for 2017 with the U.S. State Department.”

The research into the schools and textbooks was commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research, and was published less than two weeks after passage of a UN Security Council resolution declaring construction and settlements in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem illegal.

Officials for the UNRWA say that they are following a mandate put in place in the 1950s.

“Pursuant to a practice agreed by UNESCO and the Host countries in 1954, students in UNRWA schools are taught the curriculum of the Host country, which facilitates refugees’ access to Host country secondary schools and enables them to take state examinations and to transition to upper secondary and university,” Christopher Gunness, of the UNRWA, said in a statement provided to “UNRWA does not have a formal role in the development of the PA curriculum, something all governments view as a matter of national sovereignty.”

Gunness was careful to also point out that new books for pupils in first through fourth grade were released by the Palestinian Authority and that they are currently under a stringent review before they are circulated to UNRWA schools.

Jerusalem Post, DANIELLE ZIRI   SEPTEMBER 28, 2017

According to the Palestinian schoolbooks, Jews have no rights whatsoever in the region but only "greedy ambitions." The books also say that Jews have no holy places.

NEW YORK – Schoolbooks used in UNRWA in Gaza and the West Bank display extreme anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments, according to a review.

In the study released on Wednesday by the Center for Near East Policy Research, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Middle East Forum, it also found that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency books showed there was no hope for peace in the region.

The research, authored by Arab-textbooks expert Aaron Groiss, in collaboration with leaders of each of the involved organizations, examined 150 textbooks of various school subjects, taught in grades one to 12. Seventy-five of the books checked were published in 2016 and 2017 as part of a project initiated by the Palestinian Authority, which provides its curriculum to UNRWA schools.

The contents of the books were analyzed focusing on the depiction of the Jewish/ Israeli “other,” which revealed three fundamentals: delegitimization, demonization and indoctrination to violent struggle instead of peace.

According to the Palestinian schoolbooks, Jews have no rights whatsoever in Palestine but only “greedy ambitions.” The books also say that Jews have no holy places there either – the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are all presented as Muslim holy places threatened by Jews.

The study also shows that cities established by Jews in modern times, including Tel Aviv, are sometimes not shown on maps either.

“Israel is not a legitimate state according to the PA schoolbooks studied at UNRWA schools,” the study said. “The name ‘Israel’ does not appear on the map at all.”

In many cases, “Palestine” appears instead and covers Israel’s pre-1967 territories as well.

The almost complete erasure of the name “Israel” from the schoolbooks is “a disturbing development,” the researchers wrote. “Including the numerous demonizing descriptions of the Jewish state and its replacement by the expression ‘Zionist occupation.’ “Even the former expression ‘the Arab-Israeli conflict’ is now spelled ‘the Arab-Zionist conflict,’” they added. “This change signals an intensification of the nonrecognition attitude regarding Israel on the part of the Palestinian educators.”

While demonization of Jews is less evident in the PA schoolbooks compared to books of some other Arab governments, Jews are still demonized as opponents of Islam’s revered prophets, namely, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.

“The first group of Jewish settlers came to Palestine from Russia in 1882 and the second group was in 1905,” one of the books reads. “The arrival of the Jewish throngs to Palestine continued until 1948 and their goal was taking over the Palestinian lands and then replacing the original inhabitants after their expulsion or extermination.”

Israel is also presented as an enemy who aims its weapon at Palestinian children.

“The Palestinian child stood facing the enemy’s bullets like a brave soldier,” one book included.

When it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict and possible solutions, peace is not advocated in the schoolbooks used in UNRWA schools. Instead they promote a violent struggle of liberation against the “occupation.”

A book of the 2016 edition emphasizes a poem with the motif of the struggle for the liberation of al-Aksa Mosque and of the whole country, beyond the territories Israel took over in 1967, namely, Haifa and Jaffa.

The study also pointed out that the violent liberation is further intensified in the books published in 2016 as they now include, for the first time in the history of the PA curriculum, a reference to the fate of the 6 million Jews living in the country after its supposed liberation. According to the texts, they will endure expulsion from the land and “extermination of its defeated and scattered remnants.

A 2017 text even reveals a shocking attitude to Israelis by describing a Molotov- cocktail attack on an Israeli civilian bus as a “barbecue party,” and another such text exalts a Palestinian female terrorist responsible for the killing of more than 30 civilians in an attack on another Israeli bus.

“This list of items taught in UNRWA schools is incriminating,” the researchers concluded. “UNRWA, in fact, not only does propagate a non-peaceful line contrary to UN resolutions on the Middle East, and not only does allow the presentation of Israel and its Jewish citizens as illegitimate with heavy layers of demonization. UNRWA also betrays its moral obligation toward the Palestinian children and youths’ human rights and well-being, by letting the PA preparing them for a future war with Israel.” Using these textbooks, they added, is the UN agency’s contribution to perpetuating the conflict.

“It is now high time that UNRWA change its policy of nonintervention in the contents of local curricula taught in its schools,” they added. “An international organization of this caliber committed to the ideal of peace and relying in its funding on democratic countries mostly, should have a say in this matter, especially in view of its relatively large share of Palestinian educational activity.”

The authors of the study made clear they strongly believe that a meaningful peace must start with education and that “there are things that UNRWA must not teach.”

About half of UNRWA’s total regular budget is dedicated to education. The agency offers also health and social services. UNRWA provides free-of-charge basic education to children of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, and in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.








A veiled Palestinian teacher gestures as children attend a lesson at a United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA)-run school in Gaza.
 (photo credit: REUTERS)