Students attending United Nations-run schools in the West Bank and Gaza use textbooks that ignore the existence of Israel, according to a new report sure to fuel renewed claims about anti-Semitism within the world body.
The schools, which teach mainly Palestinian children, are funded by the UN’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and use texts from the Palestinian Ministry of Education. The books convey the ministry's refusal to recognize Israel, as well as the message that holy sites like the Western Wall and the Cave of the Patriarchs are exclusively Muslim sites, according to the report.
"It is despicable that a UN agency is teaching Palestinian children racism and lies about Jews and Israel,” Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization, told FoxNews.com. “There will be no peace and no justice as long as Palestinian leaders, backed by the UN, continue to deny the history and rights of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland."
Use of the textbooks was discovered after an investigation was completed by Arnon Gross, who translated the books, and Ronni Shaked from the Harry Truman Research Institute at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem according to Ynet News.
In their translations, the pair discovered that not a single mention is made of the historical connection of Jews to the land of Israel or the city of Jerusalem and that the UNRWA schools also make no mention of Jewish holy sites in their materials. Instead, the textbooks contain learning materials that say that these are all Muslim holy Sites that the Jews are trying to illegitimately control.
Children at the schools are also taught to negate the existence of the Hebrew languages, according to the report. One text has a picture of a stamp used during the British Mandate period which has Hebrew, English and Arabic writing. The image of the stamp in the book has been altered to remove all the Hebrew writing.
The researchers also discovered that maps accompanying the books contain no reference to the presence of Jews in Israel, with all Jewish cities and towns established after 1948 erased. Tel Aviv is even renamed "Tel al-Rabia."
Hillel Neuer, executive director of Geneva-based UN Watch, said that the UNRWA is in breach of a recent agreement with the State Department.
“By teaching hatred and intolerance, UNRWA is in breach of the UN Charter, and of its just-signed agreement for 2017 with the U.S. State Department,” he said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “UNRWA schoolbooks that erase Israel and Jews from the geography and history of the region constitute a gross violation of the neutrality requirements applicable to all humanitarian agencies, and specifically negates provisions of UNRWA’s just-signed agreement for 2017 with the U.S. State Department.”
The research into the schools and textbooks was commissioned by the Center for Near East Policy Research, and was published less than two weeks after passage of a UN Security Council resolution declaring construction and settlements in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem illegal.
Officials for the UNRWA say that they are following a mandate put in place in the 1950s.
“Pursuant to a practice agreed by UNESCO and the Host countries in 1954, students in UNRWA schools are taught the curriculum of the Host country, which facilitates refugees’ access to Host country secondary schools and enables them to take state examinations and to transition to upper secondary and university,” Christopher Gunness, of the UNRWA, said in a statement provided to FoxNews.com. “UNRWA does not have a formal role in the development of the PA curriculum, something all governments view as a matter of national sovereignty.”
Gunness was careful to also point out that new books for pupils in first through fourth grade were released by the Palestinian Authority and that they are currently under a stringent review before they are circulated to UNRWA schools.