UNRWA, the UN agency assisting “Palestinian refugees” has launched an investigation into alleged anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias by its staffers.
The investigation was launched after a UN Watch report revealed that more than 100 of UNRWA’s educators and staff have publicly promoted anti-Semitism and violence on social media, and that on numerous occasions the agency has failed to dismiss teachers who incited such hate.
“UNRWA is upholding the values of the United Nations and has a zero-tolerance policy for hatred. The Agency takes each allegation seriously. It has immediately launched a thorough investigation through due process to determine if any of these 10 persons, out of more than 28,000 personnel, violated the Agency’s social media policies that prohibit personnel from engaging in non-neutral behaviors online. We are concerned that some of the posts violate our rules and policies, and should misconduct be found, UNRWA will take immediate administrative or disciplinary action,” UNRWA said in a statement issued on Thursday.
“In previous reports over a five years period, UN Watch identified a total of 101 cases where UNRWA personnel allegedly posted content on social media that was in breach of its Regulatory Framework, including the neutrality policy. Upon investigation of these cases, UNRWA found that 57% of the allegations could not be tied to personnel employed by the Agency at the time of the reported incident. Personnel who were found in breach, then, where either censured and/or subjected to financial penalties,” it added.
“To suggest that hate is widespread within the Agency and schools is not only misleading and false, but validates sensationalist and politically-motivated attacks that deliberately harm an already vulnerable community: refugee children. UNRWA’s mandate is to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to over five million Palestine refugees, a responsibility the Agency takes very seriously. The Agency has invested immense efforts in training its personnel to promote their understanding of neutrality and the vital role it plays in their daily work and of their obligations in that regard, including through courses on social media and neutrality, ethics trainings, and in-person field trainings on neutrality. Oversight and accountability of any organization is vital, and UNRWA welcomes future opportunities of assessment and looks forward to continued partnerships with all parties engaging with UNRWA to ensure every Palestine refugee child has access to quality education,” said UNRWA.
Following the publication of the UN Watch report, Israel's Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan sent letters of complaint to the Secretary-General of the UN and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA and demanded they take action.