A comprehensive paper on the “Right of Return” as the central theme in all of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees), education, affecting 500,000 Arab pupils, was presented to the US Congress on January 26, 2012 by Dr. Arnon Groiss, a senior official of the Voice of Israel Arabic Language Service.
The paper was commissioned by Council for Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, an association of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders, which was established under the auspices of the governments of the US, Norway, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Over the past 12 years, Dr. Grioss, who holds a PHD in Islamic Studies from Princeton and was appointed to the blue ribbon advisory council which monitors incitement during Middle East negotiations, reviewed all of the more the 200 new schoolbooks used by the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, in a curriculum that is also used by the Hamas schools.
Dr. Groiss noted that in the UNRWA schools, the textbook for Grade 9, Reading and Texts, asks students to “reconcile between the following poetical lines and the feelings they express”: “The morning of glory and red liberty watered by the martyrs’ blood… the hope for the Liberation of Palestine.”
The 8th-grade version of Reading and Texts states: “Your enemies killed your children; split open your women’s bellies, took your revered elderly people by the beard, and led them to the death pits…”
In the textbook entitled National Education, for Grade Seven, UNRWA pupils are taught:
The Zionist colonialist greedy ambitions in Palestine started in 1882…. The coming of the Jewish throngs to Palestine continued until 1948 and their goal was taking over the Palestinian lands and then taking the original inhabitants’ place after their expulsion and extermination….
The 7th-grade textbook, Our Beautiful Language, features a poem entitled “The Martyr”: “Hearing weapons’ clash is pleasant to my ear and the flow of blood gladdens my soul/ As we as a body thrown upon the ground skirmished over by the desert predators/…By your life! This is the death of men and whoever asks for a noble death – here it is!”
The 5th-grade version of Our Beautiful Language includes a poem entitled “We Shall Return,” which advocates the “Right of Return”– by force:
“Return, return, we shall return/ Borders shall not exist, nor citadels and fortresses/ Cry out, O those who have left:/ we shall return!/ [We] shall return to the homes, to the valleys, to the mountains/ Under the flag of glory, Jihad and struggle/ With blood, sacrifice [fida], fraternity and loyalty/ We shall return/… To jihad in the hills; [to] harvest in the land.”
Other language in the texts appears to justify terrorism. A sentence from the 8th-grade Reading and Texts reads, “O brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and Jihad and sacrifice [fida] are imperative…”
In yet another text, UNRWA pupils are asked to color the Negev Desert on the map of Palestine,” Groiss said, and that “Israel does not exist on any map.”
He showed how every Israeli city – Haifa, Ramle, Jerusalem, Acre – are shown as Palestinian Arab cities, while the Jewish presence in Israel is described in poems which UNRWA pupils are taught to learn by heart, such as “How come the snakes invade us?” and “Oh brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds.”
Yet when our agency asks the representatives of US AID who oversee the building of schools in UNRWA whether they look at the curriculum of these schools, they say that they do not do so, and will not do so.