According to a new study from the Center for Near East Policy Research (CFNEPR), 240 textbooks used in the Palestinian refugee camps contain the message of violent extremism. The textbooks have been used in the UN agency UNRWA’s school curriculum. Sweden as one of UNRWA’s major financiers, contributing over 35 million US dollars a year to the organization , has a great responsibility to stop the extremism.
I myself have vetted the Facebook pages of Palestinian schools and I am shocked by the violent extremism that is part of the education reflected in Facebook posts. On a Syrian UNRWA school’s Facebook page, I have found drawings that children have posted on the wall of their classroom. One shows a masked person who is shooting with a rifle. “We shall liberate the country with our guns and our blood,” it says in Arabic text within the drawing. Another drawing shows a bloody sword called “The Sword of Righteousness.” The same drawing also depicts a Star of David crushed by a map of Israel, painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag. The text within the drawing states, “We shall conquer it, we return to victory.”
The drawings clearly reflect what is taught in UNRWA schools. According to the Israeli institute CFNEPR’s documentation, the following elements are constants in UNRWA’s teaching: The denial of Jewish holy sites and Jews’ legitimate presence in the Holy Land, violent struggle and demonization of Jews and the State of Israel.
In other words, it is the terrorist organization Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s extreme ideology that is being taught in UNRWA classrooms.
The Palestinian children are brainwashed to value death more than life and hate more than love at the Swedish funded schools.
It is obvious that not only Jews are the victims of this abusive, extremist ideology taught at UNRWA schools.
We must all understand that exposing a child to an education that promotes violence constitutes a mental assault on the child.
The UNRWA schools not only embrace the ideology of terror organizations, they also have close connections with such organizations. In social media, UNRWA schools document the pupils’ meetings with terrorist networks. Hamas also brags that several of its “martyred” terrorists have an UNRWA education. Education in UN schools should lead to the shaping of peaceful and democratic individuals but UNRWA schools serve as recruitment centers for terrorist organizations, my observations as well as CFNEPR’s research reveal.
But it is not yet too late to save coming generations of Palestinian children from violent extremism.
Recently, CFNEPR’s director David Bedein visited the Swedish parliament. He spoke to Swedish lawmakers about the extremist elements of UNRWA textbooks and the violent attitudes that Palestinian children in UNRWA schools express.
Now that our parliamentarians are aware of the extremism in UNRWA schools, they must make every effort to make sure that it ceases and that this blatant abuse of children discontinues .
Sweden being the sixth largest donor to UNRWA has a unique opportunity and an important responsibility to influence the organization; to change the teaching from promoting violence to promoting peace. Sweden must also make sure that there is zero tolerance of violent extremism in all of the education that Sweden, the EU and the UN support financially.
Ultimately it is about treating all children equally. What we do not want Swedish children to be exposed to, we should not tolerate that Palestinian children are exposed to through Swedish funding. When violent extremism is not present in the education, a real peace process can start and a hopeful future for the Palestinian children.
Tobias Petersson is director of the Swedish think tank Perspective on Israel (Perspektiv på Israel) Perspective on Israel is a Swedish think tank devoted to providing new positive and honest perspectives on Israel and real facts about the Middle East conflict.