Required Changes in PA text books, used in US funded UNRWA schools.
Required Changes in PA text books, used in US funded UNRWA schools.

This article was co-authored by  Dr. Arnon Groiss, Research Director at the Center for Near East Policy Research

As President-elect Donald Trump launches his transition team, he will undoubtedly take a good look at US Middle East Policy. The new President will have to cope with the fact that the US government pays for one third of the 1.2 billion dollar budget for UNRWA, an agency which administers the refugee status of five million Palestinian Arabs…refugees for perpetuity.

Even worse, the US Funded UNRWA school system has adopted the Palestinian Authority war education curriculum, which indoctrinates their students to take up arms for the "right of return" to villages which their  grandparents left in 1948.

Since the motto of UNRWA is: "PEACE STARTS HERE", the new Trump administration may now wish to finally introduce a peace curriculum into UNRWA schools. Here is how President Trump can accomplish that goal.

Stop De-legitimization of the State of Israel and of the Jewish Presence in the Country

  • Every map that shows today's political boundaries in the region should mark Israel's pre-1967 territory by the name "Israel". Such a territory must not be left un-named and certainly should not be named "Palestine", as that constitutes a distortion of the present situation on the ground.
  • Israel should be presented as an ordinary sovereign state in every text mentioning the region's states currently.
  • Every reference to a region, settlement or site within Israel's pre-1967 armistice lines must not describe such a region, settlement or site as exclusively Palestinian.
  • Every discussion within the books of the holy places in the country should refer to the Jewish holy places alongside the Muslim and Christian ones. Any reference to a place which happens to be sacred to Jews (such as the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem) should state that fact.
  • Any discussion of subjects related to population and demography issues in the country should include the number of Jews living there (6.3 million in 2016). Any map that shows cities in the country should include the important Jewish cities as well (such as Tel Aviv, Eilat, Ashdod, etc.).
  • The books should not use circumlocutions such as "the lands of 48", "the Interior" or "the Green Line" instead of the phrase "Israeli territory".
  • Historical documents should not be falsified (the British Mandate stamp, for example, that has been reproduced in one of the schoolbooks).

Cease Demonization of Israel and Jews

  • Schoolbooks should not include pieces which virulently demonize Israel/Jews, or de-humanize them, or any description that goes beyond the presentation of Israel and/or the Jews as an ordinary adversary with its own rights, interests and positions.
  • It is much desired to add to the books the still non-existent material that deals with Israel and the Jews objectively (for example, pieces that talk about the Israeli government structure, economy, science and technology, the Hebrew culture, Jewish history, etc.), which might balance the enormous anti-Israeli critical material in the books.
  • It is important to stress in the books that, in spite of the conflict, the Jewish/Israeli individual is also a human being, apart from being an adversary, and should be treated accordingly.

Advocacy of Peace Instead of War, Jihad and Martyrdom 

  • The books should emphasize that peace with the State of Israel is a strategic choice and that negotiations are the only way to achieving a solution to the conflict.
  • The books should refrain from any presentation of an armed or violent struggle as a means for solving the conflict.
  • The traditional Islamic ideals of Jihad and martyrdom should be mentioned in historical contexts only and not as part of a future endeavor within the conflict.
  • The territorial struggle against Israel should be restricted to the areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip alone and not include Israel's pre-1967 territories
  • Any discussion of what is termed "Nakbah" should stress the fact that the Nakbah was a direct result of a war initiated by the Palestinian side itself and not of a Jewish aggression, contrary to what is said today in the books.
  • Within this context, Palestinian children should be taught to recognize their own party's shared responsibility for past events and not restrict that to the adversary alone. An example: the so-called "Separation Wall" which was built for defending the Israeli population against suicide bombing attacks by Palestinians.
  • The so-called "Right of Return" should be presented as a demand representing the Palestinian party's position regarding the solution of what is termed "the Refugee Problem", while the solution itself will be achieved in the framework of the negotiations between the two parties and on the basis of mutual agreement only.


The writer is author of Roadblock to Peace – How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA Policies Reconsidered and has been active in efforts to reform UNRWA for the past 28 years. He runs the Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research, which has produced books, monographs and movies filmed on location in UNRWA.