The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) told The Jerusalem Post in a July 30 article that the agency doesn’t glorify terrorists in their schools.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told the Post, “Let’s be clear, there is no glorification of martyrs being taught in UNRWA schools. There is none of that. No teacher is teaching that.”
He also said that UNRWA has “a very strict regular process of review of all the materials which are given by authorities and the government to UNRWA to be taught in the schools.”
The Post asked Lazzarini about how Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks frequently glorify Dalal Mughrabi as a martyr; according to the Post, Mughrabi was a part of a 1978 hijacking of an Israeli bus, which resulted in 38 Israelis dead, 13 of whom were children.
“I know this keeps popping up, but UNRWA has given clear instructions that this not be taught in the schools because it can be perceived as incitement, depending on how it is brought to the attention of the children,” Lazzarini said on the matter.
U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer disputed Lazzarini’s assertion that UNRWA doesn’t glorify terrorists in their schools, highlighting a September 2019 U.N. Watch press release stating that UNRWA staff members’ Facebook page has “posts endorsing and glorifying murderous terrorists like Hamas bomb-maker Abdullah Barghouti, responsible for killing 67 Israelis and injuring hundreds more during the Second Intifada, condoning knife and car ramming attacks, and portraying Adolf Hitler as a humanitarian.”
“Despite our prior identification of UNRWA teachers who endorse Hitler and call for killing Jews, I am not aware of a single UNRWA teacher who has been fired as a result,” Neuer said in a statement. “When racist and anti-Semitic statements by teachers in other countries were exposed, the offending teacher was immediately fired. Why is it that an ostensibly neutral UN agency that supposedly teaches tolerance continues to employ terrorist-supporting and anti-Semitic staff?”
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) July 31, 2020
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) Executive Director Itamar Marcus told the Post that he has never seen any course material from UNRWA that promotes peace and that the agency uses PA textbooks.
“Since UNRWA is using this material, why does PMW have to research and scream to the international community about the hate and terror promoted in the schoolbooks?” Marcus said. “If UNRWA had any decency, and if they cared for the well-being of the children who are being poisoned by this material, they would be the ones calling out the PA and condemning them from the floors of the UN and in all capitals of PA donor countries.”
The Trump administration eliminated funding to the UNRWA in 2018, arguing that the agency needs to be reformed and that Arab nations need to provide more aid to UNRWA.