EU blasts UNRWA chief over antisemitic Palestinian textbooks

Committee chair calls UNRWA’s failure to address hate education an “endless saga” and calls for “sustainable improvements.”

By JNS

Members of the European Union’s Parliament’s influential Foreign Affairs Committee slammed United Nations Relief and Works Agency Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini last week over the content of textbooks used by UNRWA schools.

During a hearing on August 31, the Committee’s members cited findings from the latest report by Israeli NGO IMPACT-se, which monitors Palestinian curricula to assess whether young people are being indoctrinated with hate.

The report, published in July this year, examined UNRWA’s self-produced educational materials, and found that they promoted hatred, anti-Semitism and the celebration of terrorism, bloodshed and martyrdom.

EU Parliament representatives from across a range of political parties criticized UNRWA in light of the findings.

According to a press release by IMPACT-se, left-wing German member Reinhard Bütikofer of the European Green Party criticized Lazzarini’s position on the recent problematic findings in UNRWA’s educational materials and UNRWA’s tactic of attacking IMPACT-se.

“And I think [that] when you say, and I quote, that ‘these are baseless and shameless accusations’—end of quote—then you are probably falling victim [to] the emotional dimensions,” said Bütikofer. “ I do not agree that those criticisms are ‘baseless and shameless,’ and I’m weary of having to go back to the same conversation year after year. I think it is an easy task to make sure that no anti-Semitic material will ever be financed. So, please—work on the problem[s], instead of insulting those that raise them.”

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The chair of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET), MEP David MccAlister, also criticized UNRWA’s continued misconduct as an “endless saga” while calling for “sustainable improvements” and explanations on ensuring neutrality in education.

The vice chair of the committee, MEP Željana Zovko, from the European Peoples Party, had a similar message for the UNRWA chief, stating, “So if you are in denial that there was an issue with the educational books, and you are going to say that we are all stupid here when we understood that there was an issue with these books. If in your mind there is no issue, then the issue was clearly not resolved.”