UNRWA schools funded by US and EU indoctrinate Palestinian children to antisemitism, hate and violence
WASHINGTON, March 14, 2023 – Teachers and schools at the UN agency that runs education and social services for Palestinians regularly call to murder Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism, reveals a new report by two independent research and monitoring groups.
The joint report, to be presented today in a meeting at the U.S. Congress as it considers new legislation in the House and the Senate to cut funding for UNRWA, uncovers 47 new cases of incitement by UNRWA staff, in breach of the agency’s stated policies of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination or antisemitism in its schools and educational materials.
The report is a joint publication by United Nations Watch, an independent non-governmental human rights organization, and the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), an international research and policy institute that analyzes school curricula through UNESCO-defined standards of peace and tolerance.
The institutional teaching materials created by UNRWA’s own education departments and staff include over 300 pages of content labeled for use between 2021-2023, obtained from at least five separate and freely available open-source platforms, spanning grades 5, 6, 7 and 9 across 10 verified UNRWA schools.
The material carries UNRWA’s logo and the names of its schools and lists contributing UNRWA staff. They include school principals, vice principals, educational experts and teachers, who are all signed off on the violent and antisemitic content.
These materials have been kept off UNRWA’s new Digital Learning Platform which UNRWA claims is the sole source of learning materials self-produced by UNRWA. Yet they were distributed to hundreds of students through various platforms and channels, and taught in classrooms.
The report captures evidence taken from inside UNRWA classrooms, showing the teaching of these materials, and revealing how UNRWA’s own content directs students to study specific hateful passages in Palestinian textbooks – which the organization claims teachers are told to skip.
The report identifies 133 UNRWA educators and staff who were found to promote hate and violence on social media, and an additional 82 UNRWA teachers and other staff affiliated with over 30 UNRWA schools involved in drafting, supervising, approving, printing, and distributing hateful content to students. The hatred is systemic at UNRWA, and its internal self-auditing mechanisms are not fit for purpose, alleges the report.
Last May IMPACT-se met with UNRWA’s Commissioner General Philip Lazzarini raising concerns over institutional hate materials produced by the UN agency’s education departments freely available online. UN Watch has previously reached out to UNRWA prior to publication of its reports to raise concerns over promotion of hate and violence by its teachers on social media but has yet to receive a response.
UNRWA promised in 2021 that all hate material produced by the organization had been removed and is no longer circulated, and that any reported breach is dealt with firmly. This followed the agency’s earlier admission, in response to prior reports by IMPACT-se, that its teachers had “mistakenly” produced and distributed “inappropriate material.”
The report’s findings also contradict statements and promises very recently made by UNRWA to donor nations that the agency uses maps that acknowledge the existence of Israel; that it doesn’t teach about the glorification of terrorist Dalal Mughrabi; that its employed “neutrality officers” ensure the prevention of teaching of hate; and that its own reviews of host country textbooks identify all pages of problematic content, flag them, and provide specific instructions to teachers to avoid them.
IMPACT-SE and UN Watch submitted the joint report today to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, EU Commissioner Joseph Borell, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The US, EU, and Germany are among the top funders to UNRWA. The groups also submitted the report to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini.
UN Watch and IMPACT-se are calling on the agency’s major funders to ensure that taxpayer funds to UNRWA are not used to support teachers, schools and school districts that teach antisemitism and hate, and to hold the agency accountable, per its commitments.
“With a budget of $1.6 billion, nearly 60% of which goes to education, and a staff of 30,000, the UN agency might be the most heavily funded educational undertaking in the history of international aid. And yet our report today demonstrates how UNRWA has consistently breached its duty of care to the children attending its schools,” said Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se. “UNRWA is obsessed by PR spin and fundraising, but disinterested in the extremism of its educational network. If it had wanted to stop the hate-teaching, UNRWA would have done so years ago.”