An anti-Israel and anti-Jewish point of view is being presented in new textbooks used in classrooms of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools in Gaza and the West Bank, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The newspaper cited a study publicized last week. It was conducted by the Center for Near East Policy Research, The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Middle East Forum.
Those groups reviewed approximately 150 schoolbooks used by Palestinian schoolchildren in grades one through 12, covering a variety of subjects.
The contents of the textbooks were analyzed with a focus on how they depict the Jewish people and Israel. The study reveals troubling undercurrents: delegitimization and demonization regarding Israel, and indoctrination to pursue violent struggle instead of peace.
The Palestinian schoolbooks claim that Jewish people have only “greedy ambitions” and no rights in the region. The books also say Jews have no holy places there. The Western Wall in Jerusalem, for example, is presented solely as a sacred Muslim site.
Not on the map
The study also shows that sites established by Israel in modern times, including Tel Aviv, are sometimes not shown on maps, The Post reported. “Israel” does not appear on the maps at all and, in many cases, “Palestine” appears instead of “Israel,” even in regard to the Jewish state’s pre-1967 territories.
“Israel is not a legitimate state according to the PA [Palestinian Authority] schoolbooks studied at UNRWA schools,” the researchers wrote. They noted “numerous demonizing descriptions of the Jewish state” and use of “the expression ‘Zionist occupation’.”
The books describe Jewish settlers in the region as “taking over the Palestinian lands and then replacing the original inhabitants after their expulsion or extermination.” The books also emphasize violent liberation, claiming the 6 million Jews now living in Israel will eventually be expelled from the land and endure the “extermination of its defeated and scattered remnants."
The study called the UNRWA curriculum both “incriminating” and “contrary to UN resolutions.” The researchers criticized its “presentation of Israel and its Jewish citizens as illegitimate with heavy layers of demonization.” They accused UNRWA of betraying “its moral obligation” toward the Palestinian children and youths’ human rights and well-being by “letting the PA prepare them for a future war with Israel.”
UNRWA provides free basic education to children of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank, the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Interestingly, earlier this year the Palestinian Authority threatened to cut ties with UNRWA over rumors the agency was considering changes to textbooks used in Palestinian schools.
In April, The Times of Israel reported that, while UNRWA had not formally published any plans to alter its curriculum, leaks to the Arab press of possible revisions had led to outrage in Gaza and the West Bank.
The changes, according to Arab media reports at the time, were rumored to include revisions to maps of Palestine and Israel to correct the intentional mislabeling, and tone down anti-Israel bias and incitement of violence.
The Israeli government has long held that incitement in Palestinian textbooks is a major contributor to terrorism against Israelis. The issue is taking on increasing significance, as members of U.S. Congress have threatened to decrease aid to Palestinians if the agitation is not curbed.
“It is now high time,” the research team said, “that UNRWA change its policy of nonintervention in the contents of local curricula taught in its schools.”
Where from here?
As these developments show, there appears to be no real headway on the issue. The latest UNRWA textbooks continue the anti-Israel bias, Jewish hatred and encouragement of violence.
The United Nations, an organization supported by our tax dollars, seems uninterested in recognizing that its sponsored textbooks perpetuate the Middle East conflict it claims to be working to end.
It’s hard to support an agency that says it promotes peace in the Middle East, yet places books in its classrooms that encourage hatred and violence.
I’m not sure we’re in a position to change that, at least right now. But Jewish Voice will continue to keep you informed. Because we care deeply about the Jewish people – and the vulnerable schoolchildren being taught to hate them – we must be alert and willing to pray and testify to the truth.
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