UNRWA Schools Glorify Terrorism, Encourage Martyrdom,
Demonize Israelis, and Incite Anti-Semitism
A joint publication by United Nations Watch and the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) reported that “teachers and schools at the UN agency that runs education and social services for Palestinians regularly call for the murder of Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis, and incite anti-Semitism.”
“UNRWA Education: Reform or Regression” describes 47 cases of incitement by UNRWA staff distributed to students through various platforms and taught in classrooms that violate the agency’s stated policies of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, or anti-Semitism in its schools and educational materials.
“The report identifies 133 UNRWA educators and staff who were found to promote hate and violence on social media, and an additional 82 UNRWA teachers and other staff affiliated with over 30 UNRWA schools involved in drafting, supervising, approving, printing, and distributing hateful content to students.”
The report’s findings “contradict statements and promises made by UNRWA to donor nations: that the agency uses maps acknowledging the existence of Israel; that it doesn’t teach about the glorification of terrorist Dalal Mughrabi; that its employed ‘neutrality officers’ ensure the prevention of teaching of hate; and that its own reviews of host country textbooks identify all pages of problematic content, flag them, and provide specific instructions to teachers to avoid them.”
Examples cited in the report include:
• Fifth graders at UNRWA’s Al-Zaytun Elementary School (Gaza) were taught to glorify Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who carried out the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre in which 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children, were killed. Another “hero” was Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassem, who had preached the murder of Jews. A map in a classroom labeled Palestine includes Israel and identifies cities in Israel such as Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and Beersheba as part of Palestine.
• An UNRWA-created Arabic reading comprehension exercise for 9th graders at the Al-Maghazi Middle School for Boys B (Gaza) celebrated a Palestinian firebombing attack on a Jewish bus as a “barbecue party.” Another UNRWA-created text, taught to 9th-graders reading comprehension using graphic descriptions of Israelis brutally murdering Palestinians in entirely fictional stories. A “Zionist officer” deliberately shoots to death a Palestinian fisherman in front of his son in Gaza for being late to shore. The text describes a “fountain of blood bursting from his chest.” In addition, 5th-graders at the school learned that martyrdom and jihad are “the most important meanings of life” through an exercise practicing vocabulary and grammar in Arabic.
• A social studies lesson for 9th-graders at UNRWA’s Tel Al-Hawa Middle School (Gaza) taught that “armed struggle” against Israel is a “divine right.” Another social studies text repeated the fallacious claim that Israel infects Palestinians with cancer by dumping toxic waste in the West Bank and Gaza.
• UNRWA’s Asma Middle School for Girls B used Arabic language material for the 6th grade that includes an exercise promoting sacrificing one’s life—“the most precious thing” a person has—for the homeland and to sacrifice “their blood.” A grammar exercise states that “I will commit jihad to liberate the homeland,” and “I will not give up a centimeter of my land.”
UNRWA Education: Reform or Regression, UN Watch and IMPACT-se, (March 2023).