August 6, 2021 — The UN agency that runs schools for Palestinians has announced it is investigating 10 of its staffers after a watchdog group exposed more than 100 teachers, school principals and other employees that praise Hitler, propagate hatred against Jews and support terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians on social media.
UNRWA’s statement also suggested they may have penalized up to 40 more employees appearing on the list of UNRWA employees guilty of incitement, published in this week’s report by UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group that monitors the United Nations.
The unprecedented speed of UNRWA’s preliminary investigation and response to UN Watch’s report follows strong demands made by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan, who sent the Secretary-General of the UN and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA harsh letters of complaint, calling on UNRWA to fire the perpetrators. He also called on United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield to review the findings and demand urgent explanations from the UN and UNRWA, which may well have prompted the agency to respond. The US is now UNRWA’s largest donor, with more than $300 million in funding in 2021.
Despite their announcement of partial investigations, UNRWA’s response was sharply criticized by Hillel Neuer, the head of UN Watch, in the statement below.
Reaction by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer to UNRWA Statement:
”UNRWA’s reply misses the point entirely. If the agency employs dozens of teachers and school principals who quote Hitler and praise Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist attacks, the issue isn’t their social media posts and their so-called ‘neutrality breaches,’ but rather the fact that UNRWA’s education system is repeatedly hiring and putting in the classroom teachers that admire Hitler and propagate hatred and terrorism.”
”Deleting a post on Facebook does not remove the hate in those teachers’ hearts and minds. It does not solve the problem. And claiming, as UNRWA does in its response, that certain teachers were not employed with UNRWA at the time that they advocated racism or terrorism is equally beside the point. Palestinian children deserve to be fully protected from teachers of hatred and racism. Zero tolerance in schools means you remove racists from the classroom, period.”
”We regret that UNRWA is trying to kill the messenger by maliciously attacking UN Watch for vetting their teachers regarding racism and terrorism, a minimal form of oversight that the agency itself has failed to exercise. UNRWA slanderously accuses us of ‘unfounded and politically-driven assertions,’ yet it fails to cite a single example. By contrast, UN Watch’s series of reports, including our new list of more than 100 UNRWA staffers guilty of incitement, are replete with supporting factual evidence in footnotes, links and screenshots.”
”Facing serious allegations about widespread support for antisemitism and terrorism among its educators, UNRWA is burying its head in the sand, falsely pretending that these are isolated cases. The opposite is true. We know and have documented that for every UNRWA teacher that praises Hitler or Hamas terrorist attacks on social media, there are dozens of that teacher’s UNRWA colleagues (see report at pp. 46, 47, 162 & 195) and students who endorse the posts. The problem is systemic.”
”Regrettably, in breach of its obligations as a United Nations agency, UNRWA has repeatedly refused to engage with UN Watch, an accredited NGO with the United Nations, regarding evidence of their teachers’ incitement. As documented in our report, since 2015 UNRWA has ignored direct requests made to their leadership, including correspondence sent directly to the previous head of UNRWA. If and when UNRWA gets serious about investigating evidence of incitement by their teachers, we remain ready at any time to meet with Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini in Geneva, Jerusalem or anywhere else, and to provide substantial additional information that we have collected.”
”Finally, it is unacceptable for UNRWA to make vague and non-specific denials concerning documented evidence of UNRWA staff incitement. Especially given the agency’s ethics crisis and credibility gap that caused Switzerland and other donor countries to freeze funding to UNRWA in 2019, it needs to show minimal transparency and accountability by publicly detailing which charges they reject, and to explain why they are not firing UNRWA teachers who publicly propagate antisemitism and support for terror.”
”We are now calling on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint an independent and impartial commission of inquiry to fully investigate the pandemic of hate that has infected UNRWA’s educational system. UNRWA’s failure to fire a single teacher of hate, and its scurrilous resort to ad hominem attacks on those seeking to combat antisemitism, makes it clear that they are incapable of investigating themselves on incitement, just like on corruption and abuse. They are incapable of protecting Palestinian children from teachers who poison their hearts and minds with an education of hatred and violence.”
The following video documents the widespread support among UNRWA teachers and staff for antisemitism, Holocaust denial and terrorism.
TOP UNRWA DONORS – USA – $380 million , UA – $136 million , Britain – $100 million , Germany – $91 million, Sweden – $45 million , Norway – $28 million , Canada – $25 million