(CNSNews.com) – The textbooks used to educate Palestinian children who live in refugee camps came under fire at a briefing on Wednesday on Capitol Hill where experts said lessons of intolerance and hatred toward Jews and Israel fill the books’ pages.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the House subcommittee on Human Rights and co-chairman of the Bi-Partisan Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism, told CNSNews.com that U.S. donations to the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) make the federal government accountable for what is in the books.
“We are responsible for the content and the content has been, year in and year out, explosively anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Israeli,” Smith said, at the event he hosted with the Center for Near-East Policy Research, which is based in Jerusalem and which has studied the topic extensively .
Since the UNRWA began operations in 1950 in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, the United States has been the largest contributor to the agency. The UNRWA oversees the health, education, and social services of some 5 million registered Palestinian refugees, including those in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Since UNRWA’s inception in 1950, the United States has provided the agency with nearly $4 billion in contributions.”
The CRS reports that U.S. contributions to the UNRWA have steadily increased over the past decade, with nearly $228 million given in [fiscal year] 2010.
Arnon Groiss, author of a comprehensive study on Middle Eastern textbooks who has advised the U.S. State Department and testified before the U.S. Congress, brought some of the textbooks to the congressional Rayburn Building on Thursday to share specifics of what the experts consider objectionable.
Groiss' report on the textbooks, "Teaching the 'Right of Return' in UNRWA Schools," was distributed at the event. The report had been commissioned by the Council for Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, an interfaith association of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders.
The study shows, for example, that on the cover and on page 7 of the National Education textbook for Grade 2, the image of a Palestinian stamp has a blank square where the Hebrew script that is on the stamp has been removed. (See picture on left.)
In the same book (p.16), a map is entitled “Arab and Muslim Nations.”
“Israel does not exist,” on the map,” Groiss told CNSNews.com. (Picture on right.)
In a Reading and Texts book (2011) for Grade 9, p.24, the instructions tell the student to “reconcile between the following poetical lines and the feelings they express”:
“The morning of glory and red liberty watered by the martyrs’ blood … the hope for the Liberation of Palestine.”
In the textbook National Education, Grade 7 (2011), pp. 20-21, it says, "The Zionist colonialist greedy ambitions in Palestine started in 1882. ... The coming of the Jewish throngs to Palestine continued until 1948 and their goal was taking over the Palestinian lands and then taking the original inhabitants' place after their expulsin and extermination. ..."
In the book, Our Beautiful Language, Grade 7, Part 1, 2001, p.81, there is a poem entitled The Martyr that, in part, reads: "Hearing [weapons'] clash is pleasant to my ear and the flow of blood gladdens my soul/ As we as a body thrown upon the ground skirmished over by the desert predators/ ... By your life! This is the death of men and whoever asks for a noble death -- here it is!"
In the book Readings and Texts, Grade 8, Part 2, 2003, p. 16, it says, "Your enemies killed your children, split open your women's bellies, took your revered elderly people by the beard and led them to the death pits ...."
In Our Beautiful Language, Grade 5, Part 1 (2011), p. 50, there is a poem about the Palestinaian "Right of Return" entitled "We Shall Return." It says in part: "Return, return, we shall return/ Borders shall not exist, nor citadels and fortresses/ Cry out, O those who have left:/ we shall return!/ [We] shall return to the homes, to the valleys, to the mountains/ Under the flag of glory, Jihad and struggle/ With blood, sacrifice [fida], fraternity and loyalty/ We shall return/ ... To jihad in the hills; [to] harvest in the land."
In Reading and Texts, Grade 8, Part 1 (2009), p.66, it states: "O brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and Jihad and sacrifice [fida] are imperative ...."
Congressman Smith said the United States should put conditions on the funding the UNRWA receives, including a mandate to clean up the textbooks.
“It would be based on a certification where the president would have to certify that the UNWRA textbooks are completely excised of all anti-Semitic hate,” Smith said, adding that “zero tolerance on hate in those textbooks” should be the benchmark.
“And so, if you teach kids to hate when they’re very, very young and just keep feeding them that kind of formula for violence, why are we surprised when they strap on dynamite and other kinds of explosives to kill themselves and think they’re doing a good thing?” Smith said. “They’ve been taught. And we have to be much more emphatic – zero tolerance on hate in those textbooks.”
Author David Bedein of the Center for Near East Policy said at the event that the refugee camp schools regularly promote the “Right of Return,” which supports Palestinians’ right to reclaim the property abandoned or lost in the 1948 war, even if that property – or the city or village where it was once located – no longer exists."
“This perceived right also applies to the refugee’s descendants with no limit of number, time or place of birth,” Groiss wrote in an essay on the “Right of Return.”
In his conclusion, Groiss said the “Right of Return” is tied to the elimination of Israel and helps “propagate this non-peaceful line, in absolute contradiction to the (UNWRA) declared mission.”