At a time when UNRWA education is widely discussed, the Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research asked Dr. Arnon Groiss (see biography at end of article) to summarize the conclusions of his 20 year study of all 1,000 school books that the Palestinian Authority, operating under the aegis of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has supplied to UNRWA as the exclusive source of texts for their schools in in Judea, Samaria, (aka "West Bank") East Jerusalem & Gaza.
Dr. Groiss's conclusions:
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants (UNRWA) provides educational services to school children of this population in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the 'West Bank', East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Regarding the latter three regions it operates 274 schools in Gaza with close to 280,000 students and 96 schools in the 'West Bank' (including 2 in East Jerusalem) with some 47,000 students in grades 1-9 (as well as grade 10 in some of its schools), that is, about a quarter of the Palestinian student body in these areas.
UNRWA uses in its schools the textbooks provided by the Palestinian Authority, which contradicts UNRWA's commitment – as a UN agency – to neutrality and to peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as decreed by UN resolutions:
The PA books delegitimize the existence of the State of Israel – a full member-state of the UN. They replace it both in text and on maps with 'Palestine' as the sovereign state in the region, define its pre-1967 territory as "the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948", and refer to it as "the Zionist occupation" rather than by its name.
The texts also de-legitimize the presence in the country of its 6.5 million Jewish citizens, whose history and holy places there are denied, their cities – including Tel Aviv – are absent from the map or given Arabic names, and their language – Hebrew – is erased, literally, from historical documents.
The schoolbooks used by UNRWA demonize both Israel and the Jews as the source of all evil. Jews are also demonized as enemies of Islam from its very inception.
No peaceful solution to the conflict is advocated. Instead, the PA books used in UNRWA schools call for a violent struggle of liberation that is not limited by the 1967 lines. This struggle is given a religious character by using the traditional Islamic ideals of Jihad and martyrdom, and terror – such as the deadly attack on an Israeli civilian bus in 1978, in which over thirty persons were murdered –which is made a central part thereof.
The perceived "Right of Return" is also made part of that violent struggle. By teaching such material, UNRWA also betrays its obligation towards the safety and wellbeing of the Palestinian children and youth under its care, by preparing them for war against their neighbors. This kind of "education" should stoo, Donor nations are expected to act accordingly.
The following are several examples taken from the textbooks in UNRWA use:
1. “[Lesson] 2: Palestine is Arab and Muslim”
The lesson presents a map titled “Map of the Arab Homeland” in which the whole country is painted red, with the name “Palestine” appearing next to it and the Palestinian flag is drawn above.
(National and Social Upbringing, Grade 4, Part 1 (2020) p. 8)
2. Jews are demonized as infidels and as the Devil’s aides:
“Where are the horsemen [who would ride] to Al-Aqsa [Mosque] to liberate it
From the grip of infidelity, from the Devil’s aides?”
(Arabic Language, Grade 7, Part 1 (2020) p. 67)
3. There is no room for Israel in free Palestine:
(Sciences and Life, Grade 3, Part 1 (2020) p. 65)
4. Terror is part and parcel of the liberation struggle. Following is the first page of a 4-page lesson that exalts the female commander of the terrorist attack on a civilian bus on Israel’s Coastal Highway in 1978 in which more than thirty Israelis – men, women and children were murdered:
“Dalal al-Mughrabi ([by] the writing team)
In front of the text:
Our Palestinian history is replete with many names of martyrs who have given their soul in sacrifice for the homeland. Among them [is] the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi who has illustrated with her struggle a picture of challenging and bravery that have made her memory eternal in our hearts and minds. The text in front of us speaks of one aspect of her struggle path.” (Arabic Language, Grade 5, Part 2 (2020) p. 51)
Dr. Arnon Groiss is an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, having earned his Ph.D. degree from Princeton University's Department of Near Eastern Studies. He is also a retired journalist, having worked for close to 40 years at the Voice of Israel – Arabic Radio, where he acquired additional experience in this field. Since 2000 he has been studying the attitude to the "other" and to peace in various Middle Eastern curricula, particularly the Palestinian one, and authored numerous reports dealing with this issue, having examined over a thousand schoolbooks and teachers' guides. Dr. Groiss has presented his findings to policy makers at the United Nations, the US Congress, the European Parliament, the British House of Commons, the French Assemblée nationale, the Canadian and Swedish parliaments and the Israeli Knesset, as well as to people of the press and in various research institutions.
David Bedein is director of Israel Resource News Agency and heads the Center for Near East Policy Research, author of Genesis of the Palestinian Authority and Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA Policies Reconsidered..