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Does UNRWA Educational System Prepare the Palestinian Children and Youth for a War against the Jews?

By

Dr. Arnon Groiss

(May 2022)

Introduction

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian refugees has been operating since 1950 in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Judea and Samaria (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. It offers welfare, health and education services to the 1948 refugees and their descendants who are kept under miserable conditions in dozens of refugee camps. Over half of its budget is directed to the educational field.

This paper discusses UNRWA’s educational activity in the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza only. According to the data appearing on its site (from the 2019/20 school year) it had in Gaza 286,645 students in 278 schools that included grades 1-9. In Judea and Samaria (including East Jerusalem) it had that year 45,883 students in 96 schools with the same grades, but its two schools in East Jerusalem included grade 10 as well. 

Since 2000, I have conducted research projects regarding the attitude to the Jewish-Israeli “other” and to the issue of peace with this “other”, as expressed by schoolbooks and teachers’ guides issued by the Palestinian Authority’s Curricula Center and used in UNRWA schools. The textbooks have been found to include hate and violence indoctrination, in sharp contradiction to UNRWA’s commitment, as a UN organization, to neutrality and to the promotion of a peaceful resolution of the conflict. This indoctrination is based on three fundamentals: 

  1. De-legitimization of both Israel’s existence, which is a full member state of the United Nations Organization, and of the very presence in the country of its Jewish citizens: Israel is never shown on the map and Palestine alone appears there as the 

* And if so, what is the donor nations’ role in this matter?

 legitimate state in the region, which has been under “Zionist occupation” since 1948. The 7 million Jews who now live in Israel are regarded as foreign colonialist invaders who have no rights and no historical past in the country whatsoever. Their cities, including Tel Aviv, are not shown on the map, or are given Arabic names (for instance, the Israeli city of Eilat is named “Umm al-Rashrash”). The existence of the Jews’ holy places in the country is also denied. The Wailing Wall, for example, is presented as a Muslim holy place exclusively. 

  1. Demonization of both Israel and the Jews: Israel is presented as the source of all evil, and no objective information is given in the books about it. During my years of research, I have collected over forty different accusations against it, beginning in the usurpation of Palestine and the killing of children and ending in sending wild boars to cause harm to Palestinians’ fields. Jews are presented as enemies of Islam from its very beginning and as enemies of God Himself. They are further depicted as treacherous crooks who harbor genocidal intentions towards the Palestinians. There is no reference to the Jewish or Israeli individual as an ordinary human being. Rather, they are always described as a group – with the accompanying implications of being an existential threat to the Palestinians. 
  2. With an enemy of the type so described, there is no logical possibility of making peace. Indeed, the PA’s schoolbooks taught in UNRWA schools are void of any call for peace and co-existence with Israel. One of the history textbooks does discuss the Oslo Agreement between Israel and the PLO and reproduces Yasser Arafat’s letter to Yitzhak Rabin in which the former recognizes Israel’s right to live in peace and security and renounces terror, but this letter is never used for teaching peace. On the contrary, the emphasis is put on the need to liberate the whole of Palestine, including Israel’s pre-1967 territory, in a violent struggle. This struggle is given a religious nature by the use of terms such as Jihad and martyrdom – Shahadah – and the call for the liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and terror is adopted as an integral part thereof.

Following are examples taken from the most updated schoolbooks and teachers’ guides which clarify these points:

De-legitimization

  1. The Palestinian Authority describes itself as “the State of Palestine” and considers itself a full state under foreign occupation the boundaries of which are not restricted to the 1967 lines. The name “the State of Palestine”, not “the Palestinian Authority”, appears on the cover of all schoolbooks. The following example is the cover of an Arabic language textbook for grade 8, part 1, published in 2020 that shows the PA emblem with the inscription underneath saying “the State of Palestine; Ministry of Education and Higher Education” (marked by a red circle on top right):  
  1. Palestine is presented as the legitimate state in the region instead of Israel:

“[Lesson] 2: Palestine is Arab and Muslim”

The lesson presents a map titled “Map of the Arab Homeland” in which the whole country is painted red, with the name “Palestine” appearing next to it and the Palestinian flag is drawn above:

(National and Social Upbringing, Grade 4,  part 1 (2020) p. 8)

  1. On a map titled “Map of Palestine and the Levant” Palestine appears as a sovereign state, instead of the State of Israel, next to Lebanon, Syria and Jordan:

(Geography and Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, Grade 10, Part 1 (2020) p. 8)

  1. The term “Zionist occupation” usually replaces the name “Israel” in the schoolbooks”:

    “…The Arab armies withdrew from Palestine and the Rhodes Armistice was signed in 1949 separately between the Zionist occupation and each of Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon…”


(Geography and Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, Grade 10, Part 2 (2020) p. 7)

  1. Israel’s pre-1967 territory is defined as “the territories occupied in 1948”:

    “The following chart clarifies the numbers of Palestinians in the year 2015 according to the Palestinian Statistics Center:
    Region Number of Inhabitants
    The West Bank and the Gaza Strip 4,750,000
    Inside the territories occupied in 1948 1,470,000
    In the Arab states 5,460,000
    In foreign states   685,000
    I will organize the regions where the Palestinians are found in a descending order according to the numbers of inhabitants:
    [4 empty squares]”


(Mathematics, Grade 4, Part 1 (2020) p. 22. Emphasis added)

  1. Israel and its inhabitants are considered a foreign colonialist entity:

    “I will compare the tragedy of the Indians, America’s original inhabitants, to the tragedy of the Palestinian people.”


(Social Studies, Grade 8, Part 2 (2020) p. 34)

  1. Denial of the country’s Jewish history:

    “…[The occupier] has built for himself an artificial entity that derives its identity and the legitimacy of its existence from fairy tales, legends and phantasies and tried in various methods and ways to create living material evidence for these legends, or archaeological [and] architectural proofs that would attest to their correctness and authenticity, but in vain.”


(Arabic Language – the Academic Path, Grade 10, Part 2 (2020) p. 68)

  1. Denial of the existence of Jewish holy places in the country, including the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem (note that the photograph is cut in a way that “hides” the Jews who pray there):

    “Al-Buraq Wall
    Illumination: The Al-Buraq Wall is thus named after Al-Buraq [the divine beast] that carried the Messenger [Muhammad] in the Nocturnal Journey [from the Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem according to Muslim belief]. Al-Buraq Wall is part of the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the wall, is a Palestinian land and the Muslims’ exclusive right.”


(Islamic Education, Grade 5, Part 1 (2020) p. 63)

  1. Having been considered foreign settlers, the Jews in the country are not counted among its inhabitants and the cities they built, including Tel Aviv, are absent from the maps in the textbooks used in UNRWA schools. The map shown here, titled “Map of Palestine”, does not show these cities at all, except for Eilat that appears under the Arabic name of the desolate place where it was later built – “Umm al-Rashrash”:

(Social Studies, Grade 6, Part 1 (2020) p. 6)

  1. Hebrew – the language of the Jews in the country – is erased, literally, from a British Mandate coin reproduced in a mathematics textbook:

(Mathematics, Grade 6, Part 2 (2020) p. 65, and see the original coin on the left)

And see the original coin below:

  1. The Jews’ historical and religious ties to Jerusalem are completely ignored:

    “Jerusalem is an Arab city built by our Arab ancestors thousands of years ago.
    Jerusalem is a holy city among Muslims and Christians.”


(National and Social Upbringing, Grade 3, Part 1 (2020) p. 29)

  1. A short description of Jerusalem’s names in history presents a huge 1,000 year-gap between the Jebusites and the Romans, namely, the Jewish historical period, and totally ignores the name “Jerusalem” which is the one most widely used around the world:

    “The city of Jerusalem was known by the name Jebus, after the Arab Jebusites who built it 5,000 years ago. When the Romans occupied it, they called it by the name Aelia. Later, it came to be known as Al-Quds and Bayt al-Maqdis, after the Muslims conquered it at the hands of [Caliph] Umar Bin al-Khattab in the year 637…”

(Geography and Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, Grade 10, Part 1 (2020) p. 43)

Demonization

  1. Demonization of Israel by way of self-victimization. Following are excerpts from “a Letter by a Palestinian girl to children of the world”:

“Since I was born, they have murdered my childhood. They tore my doll into pieces and I have hidden it in my heart. Since I was born, the bullets’ whistle has pierced my ears, and blackness has covered everything around me…

…Why did they slaughter my childhood in front of me and murder the roses in the fields? Why did they kill the butterflies in our gardens and scare the birds away? Why did they hide the sun, spread darkness and block the roads?”

(Arabic Language, Grade 8, Part 1 (2020) pp. 47, 48, respectively) 

  1. Zionists are demonized and accused of genocidal intentions towards the Palestinians:

    “1. The Zionists have founded their entity on terror, extermination and colonialism. Let us explain that.”

(Arabic Language – Academic Path, Grade 10, Part 2 (2020) p. 28)

  1. Jews are demonized as infidels and as the Devil’s aides:

    “Where are the horsemen [who will ride] to Al-Aqsa [Mosque] to liberate it
    From the grip of infidelity, from the Devil’s aides?”

(Arabic Language, Grade 7, Part 1 (2020) p. 67)

  1. Jews are demonized as well outside the context of the conflict, as enemies of Prophet Muhammad and Islam in its early years, with attributed traits such as treachery and hostility, thus making them eternal enemies of Muslims today:

    “But the Jews [in the city of Medina] did not respect the treaty [they had concluded with Muhammad] and resorted to all sorts of treachery, betrayal and hostility, which forced the Muslims to fight them.”

(Islamic Education, Grade 7, Part 1 (2020) p. 52)

  1. Moreover, Jews are portrayed as enemies of all God’s prophets and, by extension, as enemies of God Himself. The following is the first of several lessons to be learned from the chapter about Jesus Christ (who is considered one of God’s prophets in Islam):  

    “1. Revealing the Children of Israel’s nature and their hostility to the prophets.”

(Islamic Education, Grade 9, Part 2 (2020) p. 21)

War Indoctrination

  1. There is no logical possibility of making peace with an enemy of the type described here. Indeed, the PA textbooks used in UNRWA schools never advocate peace and co-existence with Israel. The only reference in the books to the issue of peace with Israel is found in Arafat’s letter to Rabin prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, given in a history textbook. But this letter is never used for teaching peace. Following are the relevant excerpts from Arafat’s letter:

    “…The Palestine Liberation Organization recognizes the State of Israel’s right to live in peace and security. The Organization accepts the UN Security Council’s resolutions Nos. 242 and 338. The Organization commits itself to the peace process in the Middle East and to the peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two parties and declares that all the political issues related to the permanent situation will be solved through negotiations. Accordingly, the Organization denounces the use of terror and other violent actions…”

(Geography and Modern and Contemporary History of Palestine, Grade 10, Part 2 (2020) p. 77)

  1. Instead of peace education there is a call for a violent struggle for liberation. Following is the Palestinian Authority’s National Anthem taught in school which features expressions of violence (emphasized): 

“Let us know our national anthem:

Activity 1: We will listen and repeat:

Fidai*fidaifidai, O my land, O land of the forefathers

Fidaifidaifidai, O my people, O people of eternity

With my determination, my fire and the volcano of my revenge 

And my blood’s yearning to my land and my home

I have climbed mountains and embarked on a struggle

I defeated the impossible and shattered the shackles

Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my land, O land of the forefathers

Fidaifidaifidai, O my people, O people of eternity

In the winds’ storm and the weapon’s fire

And my people’s determination to carry on the struggle

Palestine is my home and the road to my victory

Palestine is my revenge and the land of steadfastness

Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my land, O land of the forefathers

Fidai, fidai, fidai, O my people, O people of eternity

By the oath under the flag’s shadow 

By my people’s determination, and by the pain’s fire

I shall live as a fidai and I shall continue as a fidai

And I shall die as a fidai until I return

Fidaifidaifidai, O my land, O land of the forefathers

Fidaifidaifidai, O my people, O people of eternity“

*Fidai – a self-sacrificing person; this term is used nowadays to denote the members of the Palestinian terrorist organizations.(National and Social Upbringing, Grade 3, Part 1 (2020) pp. 16-17. Emphasis added)

  1. The liberation struggle as depicted to first-graders:

(Our Beautiful Language, Grade 1, Part 2 (2020) p. 83) 

  1. The liberation of Palestine does not end at the 1967 lines. Haifa and Jaffa are included too:

    “Let us sing:
    Children of Palestine
    I am a lion cub*; I am a flower**
    We have given the soul to the Revolution***
    Our forefathers built houses
    For us in our free country [in the past]
    I am a lion cub; I am a flower
    We have carried the ember of the Revolution
    To Haifa, to Jaffa
    to Al-Aqsa [Mosque], to the [Dome of the] Rock”

    *Lion cub – Male member of the Fatah youth movement
    **Flower – Female member of that movement
    ***Revolution – Fatah terrorist activity that began on 1.1.1965

(Our Beautiful Language, Grade 2, Part 1 (2020) p. 44. Emphasis added

  1. Jaffa is considered a Palestinian occupied city that should be liberated, as said in a language exercise:

    “2. It would be appropriate for Jaffa to return to our bosom.”

(Arabic Language, Grade 8, Part 2 (2019) p. 102)   

  1. There is no room for Israel in free Palestine:

    “FREE PALESTINE”

(Sciences and Life, Grade 3, Part 1 (2020) p. 65) 

  1. The violent struggle is given a religious character by the use of the traditional term “Jihad”:

“God urges the believers to [fight] the Jihad and finance it and warns them against being occupied in worldly matters instead of [fighting] the Jihad and financing it, for worldly matters mislead those who are occupied in them and the believer should obey the directions of God and His Messenger [Muhammad] and stay away of disobeying Him, so that he would attain the reward and on the Day of Ressurection.”

(Islamic Education, Grade 9, Part 1 (2020) p. 27)

  1. The schoolbooks also use, in addition to the ideal of Jihad, the traditional ideal of martyrdom (Shahadah). According to the Muslim belief, the Shahid is greatly rewarded in Paradise, including his marriage to 72 virgins. In the following example, taken from a teacher’s guide in the subject of art education, this theme is included among a list of drawing options offered to the student (marked in red):

“Alternative suggestions:

  1. Drawing a scene of a Shahid‘s wedding.

…”

(Teacher’s Guide, Art Education, Grade 6 (2017 – the latest edition so far) p. 54)


  1. The ending of a story about a refugee’s reminiscences emphasizes that the return of the 1948 refugees will be an integral part of the full liberation of Palestine, rather than a return with a view to living in peace with the neighbors as specifies in UN resolution No. 194 on which the Palestinians base their claim for the “right of return”:

    “We shall return; we shall return with the soaring eagles; we shall return with the fiercely blowing wind; we shall return to the vineyard and the olive trees; we shall return in order to hoist the flag of Palestine next to the anemone flower on our green hills.”

(Arabic Language, Grade 5, Part 1 (2020) p. 84)

  1. Part of a poem titled “A Refugee’s Cry” stresses the same point:

    “I am the owner of the great right and the one who makes the morrow out of it
    I shall retrieve it; I shall retrieve it as a precious and sovereign homeland
    I shall shake the world tomorrow and shall march as one army
    I have an appointment in my homeland and it is impossible that I forget the appointment”

(Arabic Language, Grade 5, Part 1 (2020) p. 86, and see among the accompanying questions: “The poet has determined the form of the return. Let us clarify it, as it appears in the poem.”)

  1. Terror is part and parcel of the liberation struggle. Following is the first page of a 4-page lesson that exalts the female commander of the terror attack on a civilian bus on Israel’s Coastal Highway in 1978 in which more than thirty Israelis – men, women and children were murdered:

    “Dalal al-Mughrabi
    ([by] the writing team)

    In front of the text:
    Our Palestinian history is replete with many names of martyrs who have given their soul in sacrifice for the homeland. Among them [is] the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi who has illustrated with her struggle a picture of challenging and bravery that have made her memory eternal in our hearts and minds. The text in front of us speaks of one aspect of her struggle path.”

(Arabic Language, Grade 5, Part 2 (2020) p. 51)

  1. A rare explicit reference to the question:                                                            What should be done with the surviving Jews after the liberation of Palestine?

    “We will sing and learn by heart: The Land of the Noble Ones
    I swear, I shall sacrifice my blood
    in order to water the land of the noble ones
    And to remove the usurper [Israel] from my country
    and to exterminate [ubid] the foreigners’ defeated remnants
    O  land of Al-Aqsa and the sanctuary
    O cradle of dignity and nobleness
    Patience, patience, for victory is ours
    and dawn is peeping from the darkness

(Our Beautiful Language, Grade 3, Part 2 (2019) p. 66. Emphasis added)

Note: In the 2020 edition of this PA textbook, this poem has been replaced by another one.


This song is sung in class:

Following is a screenshot of the beginning of a clip taken from the YouTube channel of “Teachers of Palestine” group. The Inscription reads: “The poem ‘The Land of the Noble Ones’, Grade 3 of elementary school. Melody: Mr. Rabi’ Abu Bakr.”

The link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yan7tf3E6UU

Conclusion

The Palestinian Authority textbooks used by UNRWA in its schools de-legitimize the existence of the State of Israel, a full member-state of the United Nations Organization, and the very presence in the country of its 7 million Jewish citizens, whose history and holy places there are denied.

The PA schoolbooks used by UNRWA demonize both Israel and the Jews, to the point of sheer anti-Semitism.

These very books never advocate a peaceful solution to the present Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, they call for a violent struggle for liberation, with strong religious characteristics, which is not limited by the 1967 lines and in which terror plays a central part. 

Being a UN agency, UNRWA is committed to neutrality and peace, but its use of such schoolbooks sharply contradicts that commitment and makes UNRWA a full accomplice in the PA anti-Semitic indoctrination.

Moreover, UNRWA betrays its sacred obligation towards the wellbeing of the Palestinian children and youths under its care, by preparing them for war against their Israeli counterparts.

This kind of “education” should stop immediately and the donor states should have a say in this matter, the sooner the better.

https://unrwa-monitor.com/unrwa-camp-murals/

Comments on the 2021 Georg Eckert Institute’s Report on Palestinian Textbooks

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