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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Reps. Sherman, Zeldin Introduce Bill Requiring Review of UNRWA Palestinian Textbooks

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Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Lee Zeldin (R-Calif.) introduced a bill on April 18 requiring the State Department to review the content of Palestinian textbooks and submit reports to Congress every year for 10 years.

The bill, titled the “Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act” and obtained by the Journal, states that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provide textbooks that inculcates Palestinians in both Judea and Samaria and Gaza with the notion “that Palestinian statehood can be achieved through violence.” The textbooks also “demonize Israel,” according to the text of the bill, citing an April 2019 Government Accountability Office report concluding that “UNRWA schools do not mention Israel or Judaism, feature maps of the region that exclude Israel, and include content that incites violence.”

If passed, the bill would require the State Department to report to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee  if the textbooks promote tolerance rather than violence and if the United States is “directly or indirectly” funding “the dissemination” of any violent propaganda.

The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) report in September found that PA textbooks state that “Jews are sinful and liars” and that “the Jews desecrate the tombs of some of the companions and righteous; they bulldoze them and remove them from Muslim graveyards, especially in Jerusalem and generally throughout Palestine.” The PA textbooks also labels Israeli land as “lands seized by the Jews after the war.”

Additionally, according to a 2017 study by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Center for Near East Policy Research and the Middle East Forum, UNRWA textbooks accuse Jews of harboring “greedy ambitions” and state that the Jews don’t have any holy sites in Israel. The Trump administration zeroed out all funding for UNRWA in August.

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