‘UNRWA is the problem’ – Congress probes UN agency’s antisemitism

From math to theology, to literature and science, UNRWA’s content promotes blistering hatred for Jews.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Antisemitic and violent themes taught in Palestinian schools administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as well as their employment of teachers linked to terrorist organizations, fostered the extremism that underlaid Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, experts told a US Congressional subcommittee on Tuesday.

Israeli education watchdog Impact-se provided its testimony amid news that the US and 10 other nations have suspended their funding of UNRWA because of allegations that a dozen of its employees participated in Hamas’ atrocities and that roughly 12,000 have ties to terrorists.

“We know that UNRWA employees took part in this massacre, but these were not a few bad apples, rather, the institutional bowel is rotten,” Impact-se CEO Marcus Sheff told the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on Oversight and Accountability. “How do we know? We know by researching UNRWA’s educational infrastructure. In it, textbooks teach that Jews are liars and fraudsters that spread corruption, which will lead to their annihilation. Students are taught about cutting the necks of the enemy, that a fire massacre of Jews on a bus is celebrated as a barbecue party.”

Sheff noted that Impact-se research has determined that “at least” 100 members of Hamas who have perpetrated previous acts of terrorism were schooled in UNRWA operated facilities, and argued that a majority of Hamas terrorists who participated in the Oct. 7 massacre were as well.

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As The Algemeiner has previously reported, UNRWA textbooks are among the most antisemitic and inciteful in the world. No discipline is untouched by the problem. From math to theology, to literature and science, their content promotes blistering hatred for Jews and Israel, indoctrinating students as young as six to commit their lives to “martyrdom” and inter-generational war. Compromise with Israelis is described as betraying Palestinian identity, suicide-bombings as intrinsic to it and a prerequisite for entry into heaven.

In the interim, US aid to UNRWA has been suspended, according to the State Department, as government officials prepare a “thorough and swift investigation” of the agency’s involvement in terror. The US is the agency’s most generous benefactor, giving it $340 million in 2022.

“UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support. Their work has saved lives, and it is important that UNRWA address these allegations and take any appropriate corrective measures, including reviewing its existing policies and procedures,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement on Friday.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Sheff argued that UNRWA’s promotion of antisemitism and terror and the events of Oct. 7 are inextricable.

“Impact-se has warned for years about the consequences of this hate education, and I ask you: What can UNRWA possibly offer the next generation of Palestinians? Poisonous textbooks taught too often by extremist teachers? Quite simply, UNRWA is not fit for purpose,” he said.

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For over two hours, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs heard from other experts — and, intermittently, hecklers — including, Richard Goldberg of Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), Hillel Neuer of UN Watch, and University of Virginia professor Mara Rudman. They described a perilous situation, for both Israelis and Palestinians, that requires the immediate attention of the world community, while sometimes disagreeing on what should be done now.

“When you look at the incitement of violence that has gone on for decades, the internalization in generation after generation to rise up and believe that they are refugees waiting to come back to what is today Israel to drive the Jews into the sea,” Goldberg told the committee. “Oct. 7 is the logical conclusion of UNRWA. It is of course what they have been training generations to do with the resources we have provided going to these terrorist organizations to help carry out that mission. UNRWA is the problem. UNWRA is a part of what happened on Oct. 7, and it will keep happening again if we keep funding it.”

Mara Rudman defended UNRWA’s role as a social service agency for Palestinians but explained that its officials have been “sanctimonious” and “blind” to problems within the organization.

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“US aid to UNRWA is key to meeting basic needs of Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, and is critical to Israel’s security and to US security,” Rudman said. “For that aid to resume, we need a framework to assess what has gone so terribly wrong with the agency and whether it can be righted with internal reform or requires a transition of responsibilities to another organization, within or outside of the UN. The development and oversight of the audit necessary for such assessment should be led outside of UNRWA — no question.”

Rudman concluded by arguing that aid to UNRWA should be resumed while it is thoroughly examined by an outside party, insisting that a humanitarian crisis in Gaza will spread across the Middle East, endangering US and Israeli security.

Many, including nonprofit Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), do not want funding to the agency to resume.

“Today’s hearing only confirmed what we have known for a long time, that UNRWA will never be a partner who can be trusted to live up to its purpose of serving the welfare of the Palestinian people,” the group said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “The United States and its allies must cut funding for UNRWA completely and permanently and find alternative mechanisms to meet the humanitarian needs of Palestinian civilians without undermining the security of Israelis.”