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There are decades of evidence that UNRWA has taught hate and employed staff who incite onine.
The latest report, published in March 2023, contains 25 examples from 10 different UNRWA schools of hateful educational content, including 9th grade study material created by UNRWA that celebrates a Palestinian firebombing attack on a Jewish bus as a ‘barbecue party’. It also contains 10 new examples of UNRWA teachers and other staff posting support for hate or violence, including conspiracy theories about Jews controlling the world and praising Hitler.
In 2021, a report conducted by the Georg Eckert Institute, and funded by the European Union, was published. Despite evidence of bias and fundamental flaws in an early draft, the report highlighted examples of egregious antisemitism, glorification of terror, rejection of peace, delegitimization of Israel, and incitement to violence. For example, an entire section of the school texts deals with “the depiction of Dalal Al-Mughrabi. Dalal led an attack on Israeli civilians that killed 38, including 13 children. The United Nations has designated her a terrorist.
UN Watch has found more than 100 examples of UNRWA staff and teachers inciting violence on social media over serveral years. See, for example, here, here, here, and here. A list of 133 UNRWA teachers and staff found to incite hate can be found in Annex A of this report.
IMPACT-SE have reports stretching back to 2001 that highlight the ongoing hateful curriculum produced by the PA, which is used in UNRWA schools. There are also reports of more recent material produced by UNRWA that violate UN values, and UNRWA’s “zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or for incitement to hatred and violence in its schools.
New Zealand officials and Ministers have only ever praised UNRWA publicly, at the same time as funding the organisation to the tune of approximately NZ$1m each year.
The closest that MFAT offcials have come is to report, in a 2020 briefing to the incoming Minister, that "claims have been made about the inclusion of anti-Semitic teachings in Palestinian Authority textbooks used in schools funded by" UNRWA and "New Zealand takes the accusations regarding textbooks extremely seriously". In the same document, officials stated "we are awaiting the outcome of a review by the EU of textbooks...". That review was published in 2021 and found examples of egregious antisemitism, glorification of terror, rejection of peace, delegitimization of Israel, and incitement to violence.
On 16 Sept 2022, Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Nanaia Mahuta, tweeted that she was "please to be a longstanding supporter of" UNRWA. This was stated after the 2021 EU-funded report was published that highlighted examples of egregious antisemitism, glorification of terror, rejection of peace, delegitimization of Israel, and incitement to violence in the textbooks that UNRWA uses in their schools; and after decades of similar evidence, as well as evidence of UNRWA staff and teachers inciting violence on social media. In that same Tweet, the Minister committed NZ to fund 3 more years of UNRWA. The Grant Funding Arrangement contains provision (paragraph II) that "4. UNRWA assures MFAT that... UNRWA will (as appropriate) respond to, investigate, and address any credible and evidence-based allegations of non-compliance by UNRWA staff with... humanitarian principles and United Nations values..."
The Minister's comments above were also made after her statement in Select Committee on 24 June 2021 that “... I take the point, square on, that if a concern such as [racism and hate being taught in UNRWA schools] has been raised clearly [by MFAT with UNRWA], we would want to satisfy ourselves [it has been dealt with] prior to making further contributions”.
The CEO of MFAT, Chris Seed, was also at that meeting and said "the issue of school books and school communications is a known one and it certainly is being dealt to." The most recent report shows that his apparent blind acceptance of UNRWA promises was wrong.
An internal MFAT file note dated 13 October 2020, regarding a meeting with the Human Rights Commission on the issue, recorded Deb Collins, Divisional Manager Partnerships Humanitarian & Multilateral Division, stating that MFAT had "thoroughly examined" claims of online hate speech by UNRWA staff and she "underlined the Ministry's comfort with the effectiveness of UNRWA's neutrality policies and processes". On the issue of antisemitic textbooks, Collins "clarified that it is the Palestinian Authorities, rather than UNRWA, who determine the contents of the curriculum" and she noted that the EU-funded review was expected soon. Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Paul Hunt, said that it was "not compelling" for UNRWA to claim that they are not responsible for the content of the texbooks present in their schools.
In March 2020, MFAT officials briefed Hon Minister Winston Peters with an excuse for the hate, writing “In response to media allegations that UNRWA-supplied textbooks promote anti-Semitism and terrorism, officials have confirmed that the Palestinian Authority, not UNRWA, is responsible for the final curriculum and production of textbooks.”
On the 65th anniversary of UNRWA, in 2015, Phillip Taula, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, gave a speech in praise of UNRWA.