Recently, UNRWA floated the idea that it would modify the curricula of Palestinian Arab students to slightly reduce bias against Israelis and Israel. As I noted previously, some of the proposed changes (actually addenda that teachers could use to supplement textbooks) to Grades 1-4 textbooks leaked in Arab media included:
* Removing maps of "Palestine" that include all of Israel
* Replacing the phrase "Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state" with the words "Jerusalem is a holy city for all Abrahamic religions"
* Replacing a picture of a wedding that showed only men with one that showed men and women
* Stopping referring to Israelis cities as "Palestinian"
* Removing some pictures of evil Israeli soldiers and innocent Palestinian victims.
The Palestinian Authority education ministry responded by cutting off contact with UNRWA.
As I predicted, UNRWA has caved:
The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency UNRWA Pierre Krähenbühl reiterated the full commitment of the agency to the Palestinian curriculum and emphasized that no change may affect these curricula.This is a violation of UNRWA's own stated educational principles of creating students who are "tolerant and open minded, upholding human values and religious tolerance, "
This came during a meeting this afternoon with the Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Sabri Saydam...
Krähenbühl stressed that the Ministry of Education is a full partner, especially in the educational field, stressing the right of Palestinian children to receive quality education and to preserve their identity and culture...stressing that any enrichment to Palestinian textbooks will be in coordination between the ministry and the agency.
It is also a violation of the UN Charter which UNRWA is obligated to uphold in its mandate. The UN Charter includes the obligation "to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace."
|UNRWA textbook showing all of Israel as "Palestine"|
This statement by UNRWA's head shows that given a choice of adhering to UN standards or teaching hate, UNRWA consciously chooses to continue to teach hate. This episode proves that UNRWA's denials of teaching students to hate Israel ring very hollow, as they are explicitly agreeing to accept the biased Palestinian textbooks without any modification (even though they do add extra materials to Jordanian textbooks to add teaching about the "Nakba" and other anti-Israel propaganda.)
UNRWA has just stated that they will ignore their own and the UN's own principles in favor of a curriculum of hate. The only language UNRWA will understand is if Western funders hold them to their own stated standards.
UPDATE: Based on a series of tweets from Times of Israel's Dov Lieber and IMPACT-SE, which follows PA textbooks, UNRWA did publish a list of 53 specific issues to counteract problematic PA textbook materials; you can see a small part here:
The questions are whether Kraehenbuhl and UNRWA are going to follow through on this given the pushback, whether these addenda are actually ever incorporated into school curricula, how teachers can use these addenda without being able to edit the textbooks themselves which the students still have, and whether Kraehenbuhl's words mean that he agrees not to incorporate these addenda to begin with since that is a change of curriculum.