UNRWA Strives for Education Without Incitement - Hamas and the PLO Oppose

UNRWA is making efforts to create a balanced, positive curriculum with universal values free from violence and incitement after criticism directed at the agency. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority vehemently oppose these efforts and seek to continue incitement against Israel in the curricula, textbooks and other study materials.

​These amendments were made following claims from countries funding the agency regarding the curriculum which is based on the official textbooks of the PLO which contain material inciting towards violence, racism, thus failing to comply with the UN standard for neutrality. The data for this criticism was based upon the research of Dr. Einat Wilf, published in February 2017, which uncovered the inciting material.

Among the positive revisions that UNRWA has sought to implement is a balanced representation of Jerusalem as having religious significance to the three major monotheistic religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism), mentioning that Muslim believers have access to the holy sites. UNRWA additionally sought to amend textbooks in cases where the content showed gender bias, lacked objectivity and incited violence against Israel.

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Following the announcement of the upcoming modifications, Hamas and the PA expressed opposition to amendments in the curriculum of UNRWA schools, threatening to take administrative and even violent measures against the organization, which is working for their welfare and is backed by international funding.

Ahmad Bahar, Vice-chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council and high-ranking official in Hamas, said that the Palestinian people will adamantly oppose by means of every measure possible any amendment made to the Palestinian curriculum. Sabri Saydam, Palestinian Minister of Education, has also addressed the issue stating that his ministry will not allow any change proposed by UNRWA or any other body to the curriculum or to the educational system.

As such statements suggest, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are like-minded in seeking to use primary school curriculum to incite Palestinian children. They seem to be in cooperation to prevent any critical thinking that could lead to a balanced, positive education in favor of one of opposed to incitement, violence and inequality.