Using funding from Western taxpayers, and Americans in particular, United Nations schools are teaching Arab children to glorify terrorism and wage constant war against their Jewish neighbors, according to a new film. In the explosive documentary released late last month by a pro-Israel watchdog group, schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) are even exposed offering military-style training to young children. That training, combined with a curriculum that teaches fervent hatred of Jews, is a recipe for disaster, the producer said, citing the recent wave of attacks. But now, U.S. lawmakers are speaking out, with media reports saying that legislation is being considered to yank funding from the UN-run schools.
The film, produced by the Center for Near East Policy Research, shows numerous young children proudly celebrating the murder of Jews and explaining what they learned in their UN schools. Children also appear on camera vowing to fight for the Islamic State, or ISIS, and calmly explaining how they hope to become suicide bombers someday. Others boast that, one day, they hope to stab, shoot, or run down Jews with cars. The new material, released on May 27, comes amid a fresh surge in terrorist attacks in Israel, with more than 2,200 attacks by Arabs on Jews since last September. Dozens of victims have been killed in the attacks, with close to 500 wounded.
The short documentary, entitled “The UNRWA Road to Terror: Palestinian Classroom Incitement,” argues that the source of much of the violence is the pseudo-education being offered in UN schools on UN facilities funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars. “A closer look reveals that the uprising has hardly been spontaneous,” says the narrator as video of recent brutal stabbings and killings plays in the background. “Its roots derive from an education curriculum taught to Palestinians beginning in the first grade.” That is followed by film from inside the UN classroom, with an adult leading very young children in chanting that Israeli territory is actually Arab, “from the river to the sea.” Many of the terrorists behind recent attacks were educated in the UN schools, the film states.
Controversy has swirled around the UNRWA and UN schools in the region for years. In 2014, for example, the UN faced a tsunami of criticism after caches of rockets were found hidden at a UN-run school in Gaza — and then handed to Hamas terrorists by UN workers under the guise of passing the deadly weapons to “local authorities.” In 2012, meanwhile, the UN schools came under international criticism for using pro-terror, anti-American textbooks in education. Two years ago, a similar video was released showing UN schools offering jihad lessons to young Arabs. Yet the problem continues, with the Center for Near East Policy Research saying that the material in the latest video is brand new.
Americans should be concerned, too, considering the fact that U.S. taxpayers have poured some $4 billion into the UN bureaucracy responsible for running the schools. “This is an American issue,” explained David Bedein, director of the group behind the documentary. “It's an American issue because the U.S. government spends $400 million per year — more than $1 million every single day — on UNRWA which is indoctrinating these children for war. And it's all in a UN facility, which makes it even more ridiculous. People assume UN facilities would teach peace. But if you look at our films, you'll see it's exactly the opposite.”
The Center for Near East Policy Research has been reaching out to lawmakers in the United States and other Western governments that fund UNRWA. But the public must also be aware of what is happening. “The most important thing would be for Americans — liberals, conservatives, Jews, gentiles — to stand up and say, if we're going to finance the UNRWA system, there should be a new education system, a new curriculum, which advocates peace and reconciliation, not war, and which works toward the re-settlement of these people,” Bedein said.
And the problem is urgent, he added. Consider, for example, that the film shows young children engaged in what appears to be military-style training with dummy firearms. “The thing to understand is that these schools, they've developed a full-scale military-training system,” continued Bedein, also a longtime journalist. “How many people realize that there's military training going on in these camps? It's not even just hate education, it's war education. The education for the last 16 years, the school system has been devoted to indoctrinating children to make war on the Jews.” And the results are obvious.
At the center of the controversial curriculum is what is known as the “right of return,” the argument that Arabs who lived in present-day Israel in 1948, and their descendants, should be allowed to re-settle there someday. “Right now the curriculum is based on preparing children for the armed struggle against Israel invoking what they call the right of return,” continued Bedein. “There's no reason to keep these people in camps under the false promise of the right of return. The right of return was predicated on one thing: The desire of the refugees to go back and live in peace with the Jews. There is no sign of that happening.”
Bedein said that Arabs have been in the UN “refugee camps” since the 1950s under the premise of right of return, including some three-fourths of the people of Gaza. “They are told by UNRWA that the only rehabilitation they are to take is to go back to the homes they left in 1948, which are now Israeli cities,” he said. It is time for some serious reforms, Bedein added, calling the notion of return pushed by UN textbooks an unrealistic recipe for perpetuating disaster. Rather than drumming the fantasy into the heads of Arab children, they should be offered something other than the current “refugees in perpetuity” status. And the violence and violent mindsets perpetuated by the UN schools need to stop, he said.
“If this was financed by Iran, we couldn't do too much,” said Bedein, who has been researching UNRWA for some three decades. “But because this is financed by the United States, the largest donor, there's no reason that this should be happening.” Right now, he continued, donor governments, mostly from the West, “drop money on the UNRWA and its camps like manna from heaven, with no controls, no constraints, whatsoever, and that's pretty bad.” So he and others plan to keep pushing for change, “trying to expose what's going on, with a mind toward reforming the UNRWA system.”
The group director also said that “plenty of Palestinian Arabs identify with our cause — they don't want to be patronized, and told that they have to go back to where they came from in '48,” he said. “It's ridiculous.” The documentary has already been shown to people on Capitol Hill, and Bedein's organization plans to bring in Arabic experts to explain to lawmakers what is in the UN schools' curriculum and programs. It has also been covered in multiple news reports across Israel and the United States.
UNRWA officials blasted Bedein and other critics, with spokesman Christopher Gunness telling Fox News that it was “being duped by David Bedein.” According to Gunness, Bedein and his crew obtained the footage of children at UN schools promoting terrorism by asking “leading questions” such as “how much do you hate Jews?” The UN official also told Fox and other outlets that Bedein had shown Arab schools not run by the UN, and teachers who claimed to work for the UN but who in fact did not. The U.S. State Department reportedly investigated the allegations and urged the UNRWA to do the same, but also claimed that previous allegations by Bedein in the past had been “debunked.” The UN's Gunness said the materials had been reviewed in the past and found to be “largely” free of incitement.
However, a Palestinian human rights activist and political analyst quoted by Fox News, Bassam Eid, said the documentary was accurate. “The film accurately portrays UNRWA school,” explained Eid, described by Fox as a “leading Palestinian human rights expert.” The expert also told Fox that “advocacy of violence remains rampant dictated by teachers who run the U.S.-funded UNRWA schools.”
When asked how he and his team obtained the footage, Bedein said they sent in an American and some Palestinian stringers into the schools, and that the promotion of violence was not concealed at all. “They don't even hide it,” Bedein said. “The [Palestine Liberation Organization] is very proud of what it's doing in the classroom.”
U.S. lawmakers expressed outrage that American funds were supporting the controversial UN schools. Representative Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), for example, told Fox News that major reforms of the UN's schools were needed. “It is a crime against humanity, an outrage, and does not in any way prepare the Palestinian population or future generations of Palestinians for peace with Israelis,” the congressman said. “It is unacceptable that the international community, including the United States, is funding UNRWA without demanding change.”
Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, Lamborn echoed those remarks. “Congress has been asking questions about UNRWA for years, and it is important that we continue to do so until we are sure that the curriculum used and the teaching the children receive does not poison their minds,” Lamborn said. “Textbooks and other materials that delegitimize Israel, denigrate the Jewish people, promote the ‘right of return’ through violent struggle, and glorify martyrdom must be banned.” Bedein said the film will be shown to lawmakers around the West in an effort to highlight the threat posed by the UN schools, and to secure meaningful reforms.
Meanwhile, other U.S. lawmakers are working to evict the UN from U.S. soil and cancel American membership in the outfit, often ridiculed as the “dictators club” in America. Citing, among many other concerns, systemic anti-Israel bias that some critics have even dubbed anti-Semitism, Representative Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) introduced the American Sovereignty Restoration Act to have the U.S. government withdraw from the UN and pull all funding. As evidence of anti-Israel bias at the UN, critics point out that more than half of the resolutions by the UN Human Rights Council criticizing governments were condemnations of Israel.