Anti-Semitic Textbooks at UNRWA

It’s only part of the problem.

UNRWA is the very well-funded agency – it receives about $1.6 billion a year — that is devoted to the care and feeding of the Palestinian refugees, who are thus provided with a U.N. agency all their own, while all other refugees in the world, more than 100 million of them — are lumped together and looked after by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Over the years there have been many scandals, sexual and financial, at UNRWA, and for that kind of scandal people have been fired or made to resign. But no one has had to resign over the greatest scandal of all, which is the virulent antisemitism to be found throughout UNRWA, especially in the schoolbooks it uses and still refuses, despite repeated promises to do so, to revise. Scandalous, too, is the fact that a significant number of the teachers it employs express murderous hatred of Jews on social media, and one assumes that given their antisemitic obsession, they spread hatred of Jews among their charges in the classroom. A report on the latest attack on UNRWA’s antisemitism, by Israel’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan, is here: “Israel’s UN Envoy Demands Accountability After Report Exposes New Cases of Antisemitism at Palestinian Refugee Agency,” Algemeiner, June 23, 2022:

Israel’s envoy to the United Nations launched a fresh attack on Thursday upon UNRWA, the refugee agency solely dedicated to the Palestinians that was charged in a recent independent report with inciting antisemitism.

“Not only does UNRWA not help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it causes enormous damage, incites hatred and terrorism and perpetuates the conflict, all under the auspices of the UN, which buries its head in the sand and refuses to see reality,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said in a statement on Thursday.

Erdan cited a report published by the UN Watch NGO, that documented over 120 UNRWA educators and staff promoting violence and antisemitism on social media. Titled “UNRWA’s Teachers of Hate,” the report also discovered 20 new cases of “virulent UNRWA staff incitement which violate the agency’s rules and stated values of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination or antisemitism.

UNRWA may declare that among its “stated values” is “zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, and antisemitism,” but this is nonsense, given that for years UNRWA has continued to use schoolbooks that are full of antisemitic material. It keeps promising to revise those schoolbooks, in order to placate donors who have threatened to withhold funds, but it never has done so, and the donors, alas, keep donating. That antisemitic material, reported on in detail by analysts, led by Marcus Sheff, the CEO of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), a Jerusalem-based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, can be found throughout those schoolbooks, woven into the most unlikely material – even math problems contain references to the villainous Jews. The antisemitism is across the curriculum.

One May 2022 Facebook post by an UNRWA teacher in Lebanon, Elham Mansour, declared: “By Allah, anyone who can kill and slaughter any Zionist and Israeli criminal, and doesn’t do so, doesn’t deserve to live. Kill them and pursue them everywhere, they are the greatest enemy….All Israel deserves is death.” Another post by Mansour, addressed to “filthy Zionists,” urged Palestinians to “slaughter each and every one of you and toss you into the garbage heaps, because you are filthy, you contaminate any land you are in.”

Mansour is not alone. These genocidal comments about Jews, whom Muslims should “kill and slaughter” everywhere, because Jews “don’t deserve to live,” render Elham Mansour unfit to teach Palestinian children in UNWRA classrooms. And he is one of 120 teachers identified by IMPACT-se whose social media posts show that they embrace this same genocidal hate. Sheff has submitted his report to the UN, but so far there has been no reply. Will the UN agree that those who share such views have no business teaching in UNRWA schools? In the history of UNRWA, no teacher has been dismissed because he preached genocidal hatred – or any hatred — of Jews. It’s perfectly okay. One can imagine what would happen if an employee at UNRWA, or UNESCO, or any other part of the UN, were found to have posted on social media contemptuous comments about Muslims or blacks; that employee would be immediately dismissed.  “No tolerance for intolerance” at the UN, apparently, except in the case of Jews, who at UNRWA remain fair game as the objects of murderous intolerance.

According to UN Watch, UNRWA’s budget last year included $338 million from the United States, $177 million from Germany, $118 million from the European Commission.

With such enormous sums flowing from them into UNRWA, the agency’s major donors have both a right and a responsibility to effect changes at UNRWA. They should withhold all donations to UNRWA until, at long last, that agency fulfills its promise to remove antisemitic passages from its schoolbooks. And the UN Watch report makes clear that cleaning up the textbooks will not be enough. Teachers in UNRWA schools who inculcate genocidal views of Jews, even if the contents of the textbooks they use have been revised, must be dismissed.

Erdan argued that the “UN must be held accountable for the UN-funded incitement and hatred. UNRWA unfortunately does not help advance a resolution of the conflict at all, but on the contrary: it disseminates false Palestinian narratives and turns a blind eye to incitement to murder Israelis and blatant antisemitism.”

Will this finally be the year that the UNRWA donors will have had enough, and halt their contributions until the schoolbooks are cleansed of their antisemitic filth? No. Early in 2021 the Bidenites renewed the American donation to UNRWA that Trump had stopped paying; the first installment was $150 million, and several similar payments have been made since then. No mention has been made by the administration about UNRWA’s antisemitic textbooks; it seems the Bidenites no longer care enough to press the issue. The EU initially did withhold its 2022 UNRWA donation, and several European parliamentarians tried to make any aid conditional on a change in the textbooks, but in the end, the EU capitulated and, without any new commitment by UNRWA to remove the antisemitic content of its textbooks, agreed to again contribute, pledging to provide an annual amount of EUR 82 million ($86 million), for a total of EUR 246 million ($260 million) over the next three years.

Now UNRWA, fortified by the capitulation of its donors, who yet again did not obtain any change in the agency’s textbooks, but sent in their generous annual contributions nonetheless, may choose to ignore the demand that UNRWA teachers who express their genocidal antisemitism on social media be fired. The specious argument is that one’s private thoughts, expressed on social media, need not affect the contents of one’s teaching. One hopes that members of Congress will make much of this scandalous failure of the Bidenites to withhold funds — the U.S. is the single largest contributor to UNRWA, giving it considerable clout — and thereby force UNRWA both to revise its textbooks and to dismiss its genocide-minded teachers, so that they may no longer inculcate such murderous hate in their young charges.

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