US Aid to Palestinians based on ‘promise’ to be good, oppose anti-Semitism

Israel points out that the Palestinian aid agency still has textbooks glorifying violence against Israel and Jews in all its schools. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The United States based its $150 million grant last week to the UN agency that provides aid to Palestinians on the organization’s commitment not to tolerate anti-Semitism, racism or discrimination in the programs it runs, an American official told the JTA news service over the weekend.

“UNWRA has made clear their rock-solid commitments to the United States on the issues of transparency, accountability, and neutrality in all its operations,” said the senior official, who had initiated the interview. “And what neutrality means in the context of the United Nations is zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, and anti-Semitism.”

Former president Donald Trump had cut off funding for UNRWA in 2018 due to his administration’s belief – backed by Israel – that the agency was serving to prolong the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This was due both to its unique policy among aid agencies of considering descendants of Palestinian refugees to also be refugees, swelling their numbers by many millions, and the fact that textbooks in the schools it ran glorified terrorism and inculcated anti-Semitic beliefs instead of educating toward peace.

Israel criticized the decision when the State Department announced Wednesday that the aid pipeline was being reopened, in line with President Biden’s campaign promise to re-engage with the Palestinians. Biden’s reasoning was that Trump had been wrong to cut off funding, both for humanitarian reasons and because the U.S. had thereby lost its influence to encourage a solution to the century-old conflict.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said the funding should not have been renewed “without first ensuring that certain reforms, including stopping the incitement and removing anti-Semitic content from its educational curriculum, are carried out.”

A January report by the apolitical IMPACT-SE non-profit,, which researches textbooks and curricula worldwide to assess whether youth are being educated toward tolerance and peace, found that extreme Arab nationalism and Islamist ideology that is anti-Israel and anti-Semitic is still prevalent across all grades and subjects in schools run by UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority.

In reaction, the aid agency said such textbooks had been “mistakenly included” in the curriculum and unnamed “steps” would be taken to address the issue.

UNRWA has been considered controversial for years due to its pro-Palestinian actions. It has had senior Hamas activists on its payroll, and Jerusalem maintains that the terror organization has stored rockets and fired them at Israel from agency grounds in the Gaza Strip.

Last September, the international agency named an Arab performer who glorifies violence against Israel in his songs as a “goodwill ambassador.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price defended the funding, saying that the U.S. took oversight of UNRWA “extraordinarily seriously” and that the aid would now give the Americans “a seat at the table.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the organization provided “hope and stability.”