Educational material published by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for schools in the West Bank and Gaza has been found to glorify terrorism and incite violence against Israel.
An estimated 150-200 UNRWA-produced educational booklets were distributed to over 300,000 Palestinian children to supplement the official Palestinian Authority (PA) school curriculum and aid remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the booklets, Israel is frequently referred to as “the Enemy” or the “Zionist Occupation”; a clear violation of the UN’s principles of neutrality. Grammar exercises use the language of “jihad” and “sacrifice” and known terrorists such as Dalal Mughrabi, who killed 38 Israelis including 13 children in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, are presented as positive role models.
8-year-olds are asked to choose the correct number of “martyrs” in the First Intifada from a list of suggested numbers, and themes of conflict are present throughout UNRWA’s Arabic grammar booklets. Schoolchildren are taught to “defend the motherland with blood” and are encouraged to watch a YouTube video that features the sentence: “We shall return to our expelled villages by storm”.
Israel is omitted from maps, with the entire territory labelled as ‘Palestine’. Jewish history in the region is not discussed and Jerusalem is described as “the eternal capital of Palestine”, contradicting the longstanding UN position on the city.
UNRWA has said the material was “mistakenly included”, though the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), which examined the content, said that material encouraging violence and intolerance “is present across nearly all sets, subjects and grades”.
IMPACT-se determined that “this UNRWA-created material is, in places, more extremist than PA material it complements”.
Cross-party parliamentarians have raised concerns for many years over material inciting violence and hatred of Israel and Jews in the PA school curriculum.
UNRWA has refused to publish its ‘Curriculum Framework’ which it claims presents alternative examples and ideas to those found in the PA curriculum.
The full IMPACT-se report can be found here.