On November 2nd, 1917, Foreign secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour sent a letter to Baron Rothschild, a prominent figure within the Jewish community in England. The Balfour Declaration declared British support for the Jewish homeland. Balfour wrote, “… nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine …” (Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, 2013). While this did not grant particular immunity to the Jews, it lifted the strictness of Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine for their homecoming. This declaration essentially legalized their migration and furthermore, supported it. Throughout the duration of the British Mandate (1920-48), the British also maintained power over immigration of Jews into Mandatory Palestine, ”an appropriate Jewish Agency… by facilitating Jewish immigration …and encouraging close settlement on the land” (Jewish Agency, 2015).
Not only were the Jews enabled to return, in some numbers, but their historical claims to the land were acknowledged. This mentality was incredibly open at this point in time, as it was the early 20th century and the beginning of the second world war. When it came to agricultural purchases and growth of the Jewish population, more anti-Jewish sentiment emerged in the form of restrictions on immigration as well as land purchase. In 1930, the Hope-Simpson Report showcases this particular attitude: “He concluded that Jewish land purchase was resulting in a growing population of landless Arabs. He argued, therefore, that Jewish immigration and land purchase should be restricted” (Jewish agency 2015). Regardless of communities within Mandatory Palestine and other Middle Eastern countries, Jews of citizen or refugee status have always endured adversity.
Throughout the Holocaust and WWII, thousands of Jews sought refuge in surrounding European countries such as England and tried as far as Cuba or the US. Many were unlucky when it came to attaining visas from the US after it implemented immigration quotas in 1924.
These targeted quotas were put in place to restrict the number of immigrants considered “less racially desirable”, immigrants that included eastern and southern European Jews (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). In 1938, 32 countries met at the Evian Conference to discuss the refugee crisis caused by Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and yet only the Dominican Republic opened to taking more refugees. “About 85,000 Jewish refugees (out of 120,000 Jewish emigrants) reached the United States between March 1938 and September 1939… In late 1938, 125,000 applicants lined up outside US consulates hoping to obtain 27,000 visas under the existing immigration quota. By June 1939, the number of applicants had increased to over 300,000. Most visa applicants were unsuccessful” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, ND). Ironically, the German government commented on the hypocrisy of their enemies criticizing the German treatment of Jews (intention of Judenrein, eradicating Germany’s Jews) and how unwilling those countries were to accept individuals seeking refuge. Jewish communities lived throughout Mandatory Palestine prior to it receiving its name under British rule; in fact, throughout two millennia of dispersion, Jews have had a small but continuous presence in the land. Entering the early 20th century, the heaviest concentration of Jews were in four main cities due to attached religious significance: Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias. With the establishment of the modern state of Israel on May 14, 1948, a rise of incitement happened upon the Jews. While being given a place of refuge, the Jews were also placed in emanating danger. Post-establishment, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon formed a coalition against the Jewish state and thus began the 1948 war. It was a war to declare their distaste for a Jewish land. It was yet another display of how Jews were not truly accepted as citizens nor refugees even in the 20th century. This would later come to fruition with a subunit of the UN named the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East through harmful education policies, leading to waves of continuous violence due to the desire of an eventual return.
On December 8, 1949, UNRWA was established. The organization arose due to the rise of the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948 after the establishment of the state of Israel. The purpose of UNRWA is mainly to supply relief aid as well as education and works programs, but it does more than that. It supplies the textbooks to Palestinian schools and perpetuates negative messages. On UNRWA’s website, they describe the delegations of the UN unit. Their mission statement is,
“UNRWA human development and humanitarian services encompass primary and vocational education, primary health care, relief and social services, infrastructure and camp improvement, microfinance and emergency response, including in situations of armed conflict.”
There are schools within the Palestinian territories or communities within Israel that educate Palestinian children under the jurisdiction of UNRWA and funding of many foreign countries, such as Sweden, Japan, Germany, the US, the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. These schoolbooks are updated every now and then, but still maintain the same concepts: Israel is an occupier, the inhabitants are tyrants, Jews do not deserve tolerance or residence and Am Israel (the people of Israel) are thieves. In the school books, there is an immense erasure of Jewish history and ownership of land in Eretz Israel, and the Jewish people’s return to the land that they were once expelled is portrayed as a criminal act. Propagandized education filled with hate and intolerance is facilitated under UNRWA. The teachings reinforce the antisemitism and anti-zionism embedded in much of the Arab states and coalitions surrounding Israel.
“Also new, the reformed curriculum emphasizes that the return of Palestinian refugees to pre- 1967 Israel will take place through violence and that Israel will become sovereign Palestinian territory. Emphasizing the Palestinian character of areas, sites, and cities in Israel within its pre- 1967 borders leads students to understand that the struggle for liberation does not end at 1967 lines” (IMPACT-Se, Pardo, Eldad J., Agassi, Arik and Sheff, Marcus, Page 2, October 2017).
Many groups such as this division of the UN strive to gather forces against the land and people of Israel in their plan to eradicate anything “Judaized” and take back land that used to be under another power.
In 2015, UNESCO voted in line with the Arab states in removing recognition of Jewish claim to religious sites such as Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of Patriarchs in Hebron, despite the archaeological and historical evidence. Other cases of denial to Jewish holy places are the proclaimed “attempt to Judaize some of the Muslim Religious sites such as the Mosque of Abraham [the Cave of the Patriarchs] and the Mosque of Bilal Bin Rabbah (near Bethlehem) [Rachel’s Tomb]” (UNRWA: A Roadblock To Peace, David Bedouin, p55, 2014). This applies toward the concept of “Right of Return” in multiple senses, one of which is the education of it. Starting at a very young age, children are taught to find their country [i.e. Palestine] and, for example, fill the colors of the flag.
This eradicates any bit of Israel, as the flag covers the entire country. Ironically enough, their flag adopted by the PA was originally the flag of Trans-Jordan. When this country separated from Palestine, a new flag was adopted. Israel initiated a peace curriculum with the onset of the Oslo accords, in contrast to the Palestinian Authority, whose new school system advocates total war since the introduction of new PA school books in August 2000. In another instance, children are taught their home of origin. They are told they live in Jaffo or Tel Aviv, and that it is inherently their home. This eventually materialized into the legal recognition as refugees, despite having no land to seek refuge from their diaspora. The refugee status means that they have a right to reclaim property in full, the same concept applying to their descendants for the duration of refugee status.
This contrasts the refugee status over centuries of the Jewish peoples, especially in regard to their mistreatment in the Arab countries. “The Jewish refugees have suffered more than the Palestinian refugees and undergone greater spoliations. However, they became citizens of the countries of refuge, especially Israel and France, while Palestinians were ostracized from the Arab nations” (The Expulsion of the Jews from Muslim Countries, 1920-1970: A History of Ongoing Cruelty and Discrimination, Prof. Shmuel Trigano, November 4, 2010). If an individual counts themselves and generations preceding as refugees and see themselves in a perpetual state of war, it seems that the ultimate goal is not peaceful coexistence, but rather annihilation. In one lesson regarding the refugee problem, it is stated that a war had broken out. This mentality caused a rise of hatred education and rising resentment over time.
“The UN adopted in 1947 a resolution to partition Palestine between the Arabs and Jews. Accordingly, the British Mandate over Palestine ended and the Mandate government withdrew. Then, war broke out [qamat al-harb] between the Arabs and the Jews in 1948, which ended with the Jews have taken over part of Palestine and with the occurrence of the Disaster [al-Nakbah] which forced most of the Palestinian people to emigrate”(Gross-Shaked, PA Schoolbooks, p35, 2017).
After the separation from Jordan, Palestinians were dispersed in a “sort of diaspora.” Despite this, Jordan possessed control over the Palestinian education in the West Bank, while Egypt controlled that in Gaza. Following the end of the 1967 war, Israel took charge. The same Jordanian and Egyptian systems would be executed, yet mildly censored in the form of omitting particular lessons or blatantly blacking them out. Israeli overseeing did not last, as Palestinians were given full control of their education with the Oslo Accords. After the British Mandate dissolved and the 1948 war ended, Palestinian refugees living in UNRWA camps were given no refugee status in Lebanon and in Syria. However, Palestinian refugees in UNRWA were granted full citizenship in Jordan. Palestinians would remain under Jordanian control from that time until the Six Day War in 1967. The school systems in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan adopted a curriculum embedded with instigations of war against Jews and namely, Israel, as did the nascent Palestinian Authority.
In contrast to the “right” of Palestinians, the Israeli Right of Return is a concept that facilitates the homecoming of the Jews to Eretz Israel, a country mentioned in all of Judaism holy books. It is more commonly known that Jews from the diaspora are eternally granted the right to come back to Israel, to return home for their safe haven. This is conceptualized through the political system of Aliyah, which states the right of any individual of Jewish descent to move to the Holy Land. While there are certain restrictions to the law such as needing a Jewish parent or not being Messianic, it is a far easier form of immigration in comparison to other countries or for other peoples. Any individual regardless of their faith and heritage is enabled to become Olim, but their immigration process is less prioritized compared to that of non-Jews [goyim]. Countries, such as Greece have similar immigration policies for those that are the rightful peoples; therefore it can be held in comparison that the Israeli immigration process [Aliyah/Right of Return for Jews] is peaceful and tolerant of the goyische [non-jew] Olim. Likelihood regarding maintenance of peace is unsure, but a safe haven for a people persecuted since ancient times is guaranteed. It is peaceful through its timely and considerate process and tolerant in that it accepts more than Jews.
Though Israel is, in accordance with its Declaration of Independence, a Jewish nation-state through and through, it is evident due to Abrahamic religions that it is not 100% Jewish demographically. “As a consequence, accepting the “right of return” would mean millions of Palestinians being allowed to enter Israel, ending Israel’s majority Jewish status.” (Palestinian TV teaches children there’s ‘no alternative to return’ to 1948 homes, Toi Staff, 20 May 2018). The infiltration of other faiths over time to modernity is tied to the reason why it is so important to advocate for the Jewish right of return, and additionally, why the Jewish state is not entirely one faith. The Palestinian Right of Return is connected to the delegitimization of Israel in education. In a lesson for third graders in which an ancient [now modern] city is personified: “I am Jaffa, Bride of the Sea [Jaffa’s epithet in Palestinian narrative– Arus al-Bahr]; I am a Palestinian city. I was built by your ancient Arab ancestors six thousand years ago, on the Mediterranean coast” (Our Beautiful Language, Grade 3, Part 1 (2016) p. 106). There is an inconsistency of chronology throughout lessons as those mentioned prior. Thus, it is evident that the right of return is truly a motive for the ethnic cleansing of Jews and conquer a land that was in the hands of others well before their time.
The Palestinian Authority [originally the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), was founded in 1964 prior to separation from Egyptian control. They remained operative over the ‘state of Palestine’ declared in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1988, and in 1994 the Palestinian Authority was created as an interim government to oversee a majority of the Gaza Strip and some parts of the West Bank. The PLO was not truly recognized as representative of the Palestinians until 1967 with the end of the Six Day War. This is where Hamas enters the picture. Listed as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, and Canada, Hamas has held control of the Palestinian administration within the Gaza strip since 2006. Incitement of violence has gone through sunrise and sunsets. In 2014, the IDF initiated an operation titled Protective Edge, in which troops entered Gaza to destroy underground tunnels built by Hamas. This was action taken to protect the people near the border and Israel as a whole. Individuals learn through PA/Hamas approved lessons executed by UNRWA schools. Most militarism is found to be prepared within UNRWA schools and vehicles as they serve cover to premeditated violence. The tunnels destroyed and other roundabout routes to illegally enter Israel are due to misappropriated funds. Once aid and materials cross the border, there is usually no telling how it is used until violence occurs.
Through Hamas’ overtake of power, they have been able to mislead children through summer camps and educative systems facilitated by UNRWA and perpetuating a network of child militants. In order to continuously collect support using an otherwise irrational concept, indoctrination occurs first within the young.
Children tend to be used due to their malleable minds. They are far more impressionable, less suspected, and a tool to elicit emotion on media outlets. “Revenge, community identity, and ideology can also influence children. The process of using child militants is also a much lesser financial burden. When one sees a child, they are less likely to anticipate a vessel ready to explode hatred and violence. Combatant status is far more expected in regards to adults versus adults, regardless of whoever is armed in whatever way (i.e. children learning to operate military grade weaponry). “A child soldier is not only a member of an armed group who actively participates in hostilities. A child soldier does not necessarily wear a uniform or carry a weapon: he can be recruited into an armed group as a cook, carrier, guard, spy, messenger, bodyguard, sex slave, mine ‘detector’”(Della, Humanium, 2011). They are also fairly easy to recruit, as the ways to do so integrate ways to operate weaponry and adopt aggressive fighting tactics with a child-friendly appearance. On Memri TV, where they use a Mickey Mouse to talk with a young Palestinian girl and both intensely discuss their hatred of the Jews. Hamas uses the right of return to gain followers and support against Jews and Israelis. Fatah is a political organization that runs the Palestinian Authority. Fatah is in control of the PA in the west bank and has been since the start of the PA. In 2006 it lost power in an election but maintained rule in the West Bank. The party utilizes the right of return as a weapon, as a tool of propaganda that brainwashes those they oversee to feel their right to return is due to the Nakba, the catastrophe. This proclaimed worst day in Palestinian history falls on May 14, the date of the establishment of modern Israel. The idea of the right of return is intrinsic to the Nakba. The brainwashing takes the form of convincing Palestinians across the world that the return is actively being negotiated and is a reasonable expectation of any peace deal.
The depiction of peace negotiations or at least discussion is falsified because the current Israeli government will never recognize the right of return for Arabs who do not have immediate family in Israel.
“Israeli leaders have long cited the Palestinian leadership’s unwillingness to genuinely accept the revived majority Jewish state of Israel alongside a first-ever Palestinian state as the chief roadblock to peace” (Palestinian TV, Toi Staff, 20 May 2018). In a youtube video from 2011, a Nakba ceremony is shown where banners display Arabic names of Israeli cities and chants such as “we’ll sacrifice our soul and blood for the sake of you, the martyr.” Within this video are slanderous statements referencing Israel as the “Zionist enemy” and vehemently stated their objective to return to Palestine: “the return [to Palestine] is [an obvious] right just as the sun” (UNRWA: A Roadblock To Peace, David Bedein, p147, 2014). The right of return is not only classified as a refugee’s dream, however, it is one constructed on a platform of hatred and the ideology that it is a right, not a privilege. In tandem, Palestinian leaders use the idea of the right of return to both galvanize the people against the Israelis and keep them focused on that group rather than see the corruption within their own government.
This tactic is utilized as a way of distracting local Palestinians from being able to critique their own society—a scapegoat of sorts. This corruption is neglected and the attention of Arabs, as well as Palestinians, are focused on Israel. The March of Return is a clear indication of how their negative emotions have become tangible. Not only did it coincide with the anniversary of the modern establishment of Israel (known to Palestinians as the Nakba), but the US Embassy’s relocation to the capital and the start of Ramadan. On March 14, 2018, one of the deadliest attacks to date was conducted on the honoring of the US Embassy moving to Jerusalem, leaving 60 individuals dead. However, 50 of them were members of Hamas. This then culminated to the March of Return, a six-week “protest” at the border where they would show their disdain for their status of life. In actuality, it was a projection of severe violence targeting the Israelis and resulting in pragmatic retaliation. All residual anger is projected to the Zionist state. An example of this is how leaders like Nassar used the Palestinian issue (displacement) as a way to placate the people. Surrounding Arab states could easily absorb the Palestinian Arab population, instead of relegating them a life of indignity in refugee camps continuing on from 70 years. Arab leaders of varying Muslim countries do this as well; in which they use the ‘Palestinian problem’ and the Palestinian right of return as part of their campaign platforms to help get themselves into office.
This regards to the vernacular used with children; thereby establishing the ideology such as, “The [refugee] dreams of returning to his homeland” (UNRWA: A Roadblock To Peace, David Bedein, p74, 2014). The same exact tool is used in poetry in order to strengthen communal ties to a land [essentially stating its inevitability] and eventual dispersion of those they consider invaders. A line from a poem titled “We Shall Return” displays the desperation to reestablish a country of Palestine, “…Thousands of victims shall return/Victims of oppression shall open every door…” (UNRWA: A Roadblock To Peace, David Bedein, p75, 2014). It could align with the return of Jews post-Holocaust, where they would return to their homes only to be faced with adversity and violence. In contrast, it is a people desiring to remove the current inhabitants of a land that once belonged to others and intend on doing it in a Machiavellian manner. The means to attain the end goal are irrelevant as long as the goal is accomplished. Thus, by perpetuating a negative image on Jews and Israelis the PA is able to accumulate power to create an uprising and concoct a violent war rather than on terms of a peaceful “return.” By using language such as “forced” or claiming that their lack of nation to connect nationalism to is due to demanded evacuation, the children are taught to believe that their homes were taken from their families and it is their duty to reclaim all lost possessions.
The Arab-Israeli conflict as many know it is in actuality a modern phenomenon. The reason for such a description is due to the rise of nationalism as a way to not only mobilize but to unite a people. Nationalism is a political, social, and economic ideology based on a land’s sovereignty- a concept that arose in the 19th century with a defined term in Europe. Elsewhere, nationalism had been used to form countries and empires long before. However, the conflict between Jews and Arabs has been historically known over thousands of years. Centuries-old antisemitism plagued Jewish communities and continues to do so in this day and age. In order to attain a remotely peaceful existence in the future, both sides need to enact policies of change. This should begin inductively, as education is the fruit of the mind. The first way could begin by altering the portrayal of both sides in each group’s schoolbooks. “Palestinians and Arabs are portrayed positively 11 percent of the time in Israeli state schoolbooks and 7 percent in ultra-Orthodox books. Jews and Israelis are portrayed positively 1 percent of the time in Palestinian books” (Bazalon, Emily, and Margalit, Ruth Slate, 2014)” If the education within UNRWA run schools dissociates with Jordanian educative policies, then the Palestinians are likely to learn history correctly and be able to adopt tolerance as well as contribute to the foundation of peace.
When ideologies such as the right of return are advertised, all those who come to believe are caught within a web of lies and harmful policies. The League of Arab States declared war in 1948 with intention of dis-establishing Israel. Hence the destructive lessons taught, “For the first time, a violent reference to the fate of six million Jews living in Israel after its liberation appears in a poem which calls to “annihilate the remnants of the foreigners” after “eliminating the usurper” (IMPACT-Se, Pardo, Eldad J., Agassi, Arik and Sheff, Marcus, Page 2, October 2017). That very same League of Arab States would come to establish the PLO in 1964. They strove to galvanize the Palestinian Arabs for that same purpose. In regards to attaining peace one day, the League of Arab States and the PLO would have to renounce their objectives of violence and surrender. UNRWA would need to admit that their school system is a facade of teaching confidence building and reveal its true form: Hamas’ base for militarizing. Following this toxic and corrupt power system, the accuracy of Jews/Israelis needs to be reformed within Palestinian targeted texts, as the following example displays a falsified and slanderous text. “The most egregious-sounding one allegedly from a Palestinian text—”your enemies killed our children, split open your women’s bellies, took your revered elderly men by the beard and led them to the death pits”—refers to a seventh-century war that did not involve Jews.” In order to lead to a peaceful solution, history needs to be accurately depicted within both Israeli and Palestinian books. Propaganda perpetuates ill emotions and stereotypes, leading to misinformation and irrational prejudice. Additionally, the removal of particular topics does not constitute the end of teaching it, especially within UNRWA schools. “A few years ago, Naveh and Adwan, along with Israeli historian Dan Bar-On, tried to write a different kind of textbook. The three co-authored a book called Side By Side that included a ‘dual narrative’ of all major events in the region since 1917, through the Second Intifada in 2000. Naveh calls the book ‘a successful failure’” (Bazalon, Emily and Margalit, Ruth, Slate, 2014). The reasoning for referring to such an intense work that should be celebrated in accomplishment is due to being rejected by both Israeli and PA curricula enforcers. With the joining of researchers and educators, UNRWA may lose power. The information would become more accurate and inclusive. It provides a foundation for a peaceful future. It is unforeseeable if UNRWA will ever end, or end up under another power or even leader that fights for a change of the Palestinian curriculum. Thus, if educators put themselves on a limb in order to aid facilitation of educative updates they shall be able to one day have a more tolerant system and integrate coexistent principles into their daily lives.