In a letter to UNRWA’s teachers on UNESCO’s World Teachers’ Day, October 5, 2020, Dr. Caroline Pontefract, UNRWA’s Director of Education, speaks of UNRWA’s commitment “to ensure that each and every Palestine refugee student continued to access their right to quality, inclusive and equitable education.”
Beyond the mere question how logic might be an international effort to continue providing education to grandchildren and great-grandchildren of refugees of a war that took place over seventy years ago, one may wonder what exactly this “quality education” is all about.
Having researched since 2000 the Palestinian Authority textbooks studied at UNRWA schools, I can safely say that they include horrendous material, teaching young Palestinians that Israel, a United Nations Organization’s full member state, is illegitimate usurper and should be replaced by Palestine as the sovereign state in the region. They also negate the UN explicit resolutions regarding the necessity of a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by educating the Palestinian children that Palestine should be freed by a violent struggle that would not end by the 1967 lines, as Israel’s pre-1967 territory is dubbed “the territories occupied in the year 1948”. This term – underlined in red – replaces Israel’s name in a chart giving the numbers of Palestinians in various countries in 2016, including those ones living in Israel.
Terror is part and parcel of this violent struggle, as is clearly proven by the sickening glorification of a female terrorist, Dalal al-Mughrabi, who commanded a raid on an Israeli civilian bus on Israel’s Coastal Highway in 1978, in which over 30 Israeli civilians, men, women and children, were murdered. Her picture, with an exalting paragraph, appears in a grade 5 textbook, at the beginning of a 4-page lesson on her “heroic” deed.
Furthermore, a hint is given to grade-3 students that, after the perceived liberation of the whole of Palestine, the “defeated remnants of the foreigners”, namely, Israel’s 6 million Jewish citizens, will be exterminated. The exact expression appears in a verse of a poem titled “the Land of the Noble Ones”, by Haydar Mahmud, saying: “I swear! I shall sacrifice my blood in order to water the land of the noble ones, to remove the usurper [i.e., the State of Israel] from my country and to exterminate the defeated remnants of the foreigners”. See a reproduced copy of the poem, with the relevant sentence marked in red.
By teaching all such materials to generations of Palestinian children and youth over 70 years by now, UNRWA has not only betrayed its mission as a UN agency committed to neutrality and to peace and, thus, contributing to the eternalization of the conflict. More importantly, it has betrayed its commitment to the wellbeing of the Palestinian children under its care, by educating them to taking active part in a war against their neighbors, with detrimental effects on their own life and future. In clearer words: UNRWA’s educational activity may be termed as sheer child abuse.
This kind of “quality education” should stop.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Letter from the Director of Education, https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/official-statements/letter-director-education
Geography of Palestine and its Modern and Contemporary History, Grade 10, Part 2 (2019) p. 92 https://www.wepal.net/library/upload/01-2020/content/5e1dcfb2d13dc.pdf, and see Appendix A below.
 Arabic Language, Grade 5, Part 2 (2019) p. 51 https://www.wepal.net/library/upload/01-2020/content/5e1db107a362a.pdf, and see Appendix B.
 Our Beautiful Language, Grade 3, Part 2 (2019) p. 66 https://www.wepal.net/library/upload/01-2020/content/5e1ec699ae2df.pdf, and see Appendix C.