The Palestinian Authority Education Ministry on Thursday announced it was suspending ties with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) over plans by the international agency to reform its curriculum.
The Palestinian ministry, in a statement published on its official website, called the possible revisions to the curriculum an “affront to the Palestinian people, its history and struggles,” and said the suspension would continue until the UN agency’s “positions are corrected.”
UNRWA has over 312,000 students in its schools across the West Bank and East Jerusalem (together, 50,000) and the Gaza Strip (262,000).
The UN agency has not formally published any plans to alter its curriculum, but leaks to the Arab press of possible changes have led to outrage over recent weeks in Gaza and the West Bank.
The changes, according to Arab media reports, include revisions to maps of Palestine to exclude references to cities inside Israel as Palestinian cities, a practice that numerous studies of Palestinian textbooks have labeled as “incitement.” Other changes were reportedly planned to tone down praise for Palestinian prisoners and improve Israel’s image.
The PA’s willingness to come to terms with Israel through diplomatic means, however, is belied by its counter-productive policy of exposing Palestinian students in its West Bank schools to inflammatory textbooks.
According to a report released recently by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, an organization headquartered in Jerusalem, the latest textbooks approved by the PA for first to fourth grade students demonize Israel, reject its existence, glorify “martyrdom” and uphold the notion of an exclusively Palestinian homeland.
These texts, containing maps of the Middle East that exclude Israel and describe Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ashkelon as Palestinian, are a fundamental source of incitement. They inspire a philosophy of rejectionism toward Israel and drive terrorism, which Palestinians have often resorted to since the beginning of serious Arab-Jewish tensions in the early 1920s in Mandate Palestine.
In general, Palestinian texts engender anger, resentment and hostility rather than promote and nurture a climate and culture of coexistence and peace. This is especially true in the Gaza Strip, which has been controlled by Hamas for the past decade.
UNRWA is now running a campaign in which it shows itself demanding specific changes in the textbooks used in UNRWA schools, as circulated by some pro-Israel organizations, even though UNRWA cannot make any changes in their school books.
Yet UNRWA has contracted its schools in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza to require these schools to only use the school books given to the schools by the Palestinian Authority, which means that UNRWA cannot unilaterally mandate or direct any changes in UNRWA school books used for 492,000 school children in its schools in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza
However, UNRWA is being praised by Israeli gov’t officials for their intentions, even though UNRWA cannot make any changes in their school books.
At no time does UNRWA say that they will remove members of terror groups from payroll of UNRWA in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza.
Nor is anyone currently asking UNRWA to remove terrorists from their schools.