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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Should the US be giving UNRWA $40 million?

Well of course, the US should not be giving UNRWA $40 million. But it's important to know why not.
Last month, due to concerns Hamas had infiltrated UNRWA, the Canadian government quietly decided to redirect funding away from the agency; instead, the $300 million in aid Canada has pledged to the Palestinians for the next five years will go to food aid and the support of the Palestinian justice system in an effort to help the Palestinians build a civil society.

Perhaps the U.S. should follow Canada's lead.

In recent years, watchdog organizations have shined a light on the content of books in schools in the Palestinian territories - and what they illuminated was a consistent pattern of propaganda denying Israel's right to exist, dehumanizing Israelis and Jews, and lacking any concrete perspective that would point towards a nonviolent resolution of the conflict, such as a two-state solution. UNRWA schools use the same text books as those that are used in Palestinian schools run by the Palestinian Authority - and by Hamas.

In 2007, Senator Hillary Clinton joined Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, an organization that translates and publishes online the contents of Palestinian media, in presenting a report to Congress analyzing eight textbooks used in Palestinian schools.

In a press conference on Capitol Hill, then-Senator Clinton said, "These school books together with the media are profoundly poisoning the minds of these children."

(Clinton also convened a Senate subcommittee hearing on the subject at which Marcus testified in 2003).

In the aftermath of last week's State Department announcement of its plan to give UNRWA $40 million, I spoke with Marcus and asked whether text books in UNRWA schools continue to incite intolerance and hatred.

He said that, the wake of consciousness-raising including Hillary Clinton's stand, the Palestinian Authority had removed overt anti-Semitism from a new crop of text books. But the new books do not acknowledge Israel's right to exist and, perhaps even more chilling, are laden with content that romanticizes suicide martyrdom to children.
Read the whole thing.


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