US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that the Biden administration’s renewal of funding for UNRWA is conditional on anti-Israel and anti-Jewish education reform on Tuesday, referencing educational materials that erase Israel from maps and praise terrorism and martyrdom.
“We’re also determined that UNRWA pursue very necessary reforms in terms of some of the abuses of the system that have taken place in the past, particularly the challenge that we’ve seen in disseminating in its educational products antisemitic or anti-Israel information, so we’re very focused on that,” Blinken said before the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate regarding the State Department’s budget requests for the 2022 fiscal year.
He continued, adding that the State Department would be “looking very, very carefully” at the mechanisms that the refugee organization for Palestinians says it has in place in order to address problematic educational materials, which were discovered by a January 2021 review by Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), a non-profit that monitors the content of school textbooks.
IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff called on the US State Department to make the subject a priority.
“UNRWA had been telling donor countries for years that it combats incitement in the Palestinian textbooks. In fact, we found that, in places, UNRWA’s own content is even worse than that of the Palestinian Authority. It is right and proper that the US State Department is now going to focus on eradicating hate education in UNRWA schools. The era of UNRWA trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes while teaching hate every day needs to be well and truly over,” he said.
The US State Department reportedly became aware of the UNRWA curriculum in February. The European Parliament also expressed outrage upon being briefed earlier this year of the hate being taught to children. Canada, which pledged $24 million to UNRWA in 2020, and Australia have also announced investigations into the refugee organization. The Biden administration announced on Wednesday it would provide $235 million in US aid to the Palestinians, restarting funding for the UNRWA and restoring other assistance cut off by former President Donald Trump.