Unwra in textbook u-turn
PROPOSED CHANGES to the curricula of Palestinian schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unwra) have led to a rift between the organisation and the Palestinian Authority.
Nearly 600,000 Palestinian children study daily at Unwra-financed schools, using textbooks that Israeli authorities claim show bias against the Jewish state and lack objectivity.
Claims of “incitement” in Palestinian textbooks have largely focused on the fact that Israeli cities and the state are often missing from maps, replaced by one Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, and that Jews are portrayed as foreign aggressors, trying to wipe out the Palestinian people.
Cogat, the Israeli Defence ministry department dealing with Palestinian affairs, praised the Unwra plan, saying it would “create a balanced, positive curriculum with universal values free from violence and incitement”. However, the PA’s education ministry denounced it as an “affront to the Palestinian people, its history and struggles” and threatened to sever all links with Unwra.
An Unwra spokesperson responded that the organisation’s policy was “to review and, where appropriate, enrich the official PA textbooks, curricula and other learning materials used in Unwra schools to ensure compliance with UN values and principles”.