Toronto (January 18, 2021) - Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) was deeply disturbed to learn recently that new educational materials promoting hate and violence against Israel have been produced and distributed to Palestinian children by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The Government of Canada committed to a $90 million funding package for UNRWA last month, and FSWC is now calling on the government to freeze these funds immediately.
According to a new study, textbooks and classroom materials produced and distributed by UNRWA to Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank throughout 2020 encourage students to “defend the motherland with blood”, portray terrorists as heroes and role models, and refer to Israel as “The Enemy.” A grammar textbook includes phrases like “Jihad is one of the doors to Paradise” and “The Palestinians are lions in fighting the enemies.” In a statement released last week, UNRWA said the textbooks were "mistakenly" produced and distributed to Palestinian children and that the texts were “not in line with U.N. values.”
In dialogue with senior staff at the office of the Minister of International Development last month, FSWC relayed its longstanding concerns about accountability and transparency mechanisms to ensure funds given to UNRWA are spent as intended and are not used for programing that fans the flames of hatred in the region. The revelation that the new UNRWA curriculum delivered to Palestinian students is full of incitement and violent references undermines the important goal of educating Palestinian youth and puts both Palestinian and Israeli lives at risk.
“Canada and its allies at the United Nations must show leadership by undertaking a review of the current UNRWA mandate and identifying alternative methods of delivering core education to Palestinians that do not violate the principle of UN neutrality and do not incite violence in the region,” said Michael Levitt, President and CEO of FSWC. “It is imperative that Canadian aid dollars be used to empower those in need with quality education that fosters the universal values of tolerance and peace, and not to indoctrinate children into hateful ideologies.”