European Parliament raises issue with UNRWA textbooks promoting hate

Many of the books seem to be based on Palestinian Authority education resources. A few label Israel as "Palestine" or just completely erase the country from the map.

Palestinian employees of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) take part in a protest against job cuts by UNRWA, in Gaza City September 19, 2018.  (photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
Palestinian employees of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) take part in a protest against job cuts by UNRWA, in Gaza City September 19, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
The European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee raised issue with the current teaching materials being circulated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to Palestinian youth, during a hearing with Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild-Drummond.

MP Miriam Lexmann called for close examination of the UNRWA to "ensure that the money of the European taxpayer is not used to produce material filled with hate speech, antisemitism and the glorification of jihad.”
UNRWA recently handed out textbooks which glorified "martyrs" - people who died committing acts of terror against Israel, or in the name of Islam, including suicide bombers and mass murderers - and calls for "jihad," to hundreds of thousands of students across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Many of the books seem to be based on Palestinian Authority education resources. A few label Israel as "Palestine" or erase the country from the map.
One Arabic grammar booklet features phrases like “jihad is one of the doors to paradise.” Another reads that “The Palestinians are lions in fighting the enemies.” One book has a poem about how “a raging fire awaits the occupation,” while another states that “the motherland is worthy of any kind of sacrifice” and “the enemy [committed] heinous offences against … the mujahideen,” Arabic for anyone fighting a jihad, or holy war.
A ninth-grade social studies booklet accuses Israel of deliberately polluting Palestinian territories and spreading disease by dumping radioactive and toxic waste, a Jerusalem-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School, or IMPACT-se, report said.
UNRWA says that these books were "mistakenly" handed out and that they are "taking steps" to address it.
Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry State Secretary Audun Halvorsen reacted to the IMPACT-se report in Norway Today. He called the dissemination of the materials "unfortunate," while parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Party Hans Grøvan called it "completely unacceptable."
UNRWA's Gaza director Matthias Schmale denies any "hostile" teachings in UNRWA schools, despite the organization already confirming the "inappropriate" material has been distributed to more than 300,000 Palestinian students across the territories.
Schmale rejected any diversion from the Palestinian curriculum, and to keep it as is.
UNRWA has instructed teachers to "alter or skip pages that the UNRWA deemed inappropriate" as a most recent measure to prevent the materials from being shown, according to IMPACT-se.
Cnaan Lipshiz/JTA contributed to this report.