New UNRWA textbooks for Palestinians demonise Israel and Jews

New schoolbooks used in United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools in Gaza and the West Bank display extreme anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments and no hope for peace in the region, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Centre for Near East Policy Research, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Middle East Forum.

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

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

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

“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 demonisation. UNRWA also betrays 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.”

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 also offers 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, east Jerusalem, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

related

Subscribe to EJC newsletter

Get EJC's bi-weekly newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

Statements