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Amid claims of incitement and antisemitism Biden administration signals it will refund controversial UN agency

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A controversial United Nations agency that was defunded by the Trump administration will likely soon get a new injection of US taxpayer cash as the Biden administration is expected to return to funding the agency. The policy change comes at a time when the UN agency – UNRWA – faces fresh calls to put an end to incitement and antisemitism in its education system.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group has asked UN chief Antonio Guterres to condemn the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, (UNRWA) over its continued school curriculum of hate and indoctrination taught to some three hundred thousand students at its schools in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center raised the issue last week following a meeting with a representative of the UN Secretary General. Cooper told Fox News that he and colleagues presented a detailed presentation showing the anti-Semitic content in current educational material used in its schools. He called the situation, “Intolerable.”

He said, “We implore UN Secretary-General Guterres to condemn once and for all the anti-Semitic, intolerant, pro-war, anti-peace education taking place in UNRWA schools…This is an especially crucial time as the Abrahamic Accords have created real momentum for peace and reconciliation between Arabs and Jews a development which should encourage real change among Palestinians.”

The Trump administration in 2018 announced that it would cease funding UNRWA calling it an, “irredeemably flawed operation.” The Biden administration last month signaled the change of policy at a UN Security Council meeting stating it would restore both humanitarian and economic aid to the Palestinians.

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State Department spokesman Ned Price recently echoed those remarks noting in response to a reporter’s question on restoring aid to UNRWA that the new policy was, “something we are working on very quickly to restore and to announce.”

Richard Goldberg a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and an expert on UNRWA told Fox News, “Taxpayers have zero oversight over UNRWA’s books. UNRWA has no board of directors and has long denied the U.S. the right to an independent audit.”

Goldberg said it was time for Congress to step up and demand changes before US taxpayers, “get taken for a billion-dollar ride.”

David Bedein whose report was presented at the meeting with the UN, told Fox News that, “In the last three years the (UNRWA) curriculum has changed from incitement to indoctrination and to brainwashing the children for war against the Jews.” He said his center’s report shows that this still continues today, noting that the books in question are taught to children in grades 1-through-10.

While UNRWA did not respond to Fox News questions regarding its textbooks, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary General defended UNRWA. He told Fox News that, “UNRWA has been working with the educational authorities to bring the amount of objectionable content to zero. The Agency will maintain that effort and it is in dialogue with NGOs to ensure that all the information in textbooks is appropriate.” 

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Dujarric added that, “The Agency’s existing system to identify such references in the Hosts’ textbooks and to address them in the classrooms proved to be effective, considering the extreme circumstances of 2020s lockdowns and school closures.”

The Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research report cited several examples showing, what they claimed was antisemitic and religious incitement. Translated from Arabic to English those examples included:

“But the Jews [in the city of Medina] did not respect the treaty [they had concluded with Muhammad] and resorted to all sorts of treachery, betrayal and hostility, which forced the Muslims to fight them,” (Islamic Education, Grade 7, Part 1 (2020) p. 52)

“The Jews’ intrigues and conspiracies were the immediate reasons for the [Jewish fortress] Khaybar expedition.” (Islamic Education, Grade 9, Part 1 (2020) p. 62)

Pointing to examples relating to the ongoing conflict the report described two more, including the glorification of terrorists.

A textbook given to fifth graders from 2019, describes a terrorist who was involved an attack on a bus killing 38 passengers including 13 children in Israel in 1978. The terrorist it says is described as a martyr and states that, “Dalal al-Mughrabi’s…heroism made her memory eternal in our hearts and minds.”

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Another example reads, “Where are the horsemen [who will ride] to liberate Al-Aqsa [Mosque] From the grip of infidelity, from the Devil’s aides?”(Arabic Language, Grade 7, Part 1 (2020) p. 67)

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper said the Biden administration needs to leverage its news commitment to UNRWA by demanding reform in its schools. He said, “that single policy decision can help break the cycle of systemic child abuse plaguing Palestinian society and help set the table for reconciliation and mutual respect between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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