Opposition to Incorporating Holocaust Studies in the UNRWA Curriculum


Towards late August 2009, it was rumored in Gaza that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was planning to include, in the eighth-grade curriculum of the schools that it runs in Gaza, a section on the Holocaust and the Jewish people in the WWII era. The reason behind the rumor was a letter to UNRWA by the Popular Committees of Gaza Refugees protesting against Gaza students' study of what it called "that Zionist-engendered lie."(1) UNRWA hastened to deny any such intent on its part; operations director John Ging said on September 2 that "it was inconceivable that the Palestinian students should learn about the Holocaust while Israel had eliminated everything related to Palestine from the curricula of all schools within the 1948 territory," and that UNRWA "had no intention whatsoever of incorporating [in its curriculum any] materials or subjects against the wishes of the Palestinian society."(2) Nevertheless, numerous responses to the rumored addition to the UNRWA school curriculum appeared in the media, mostly in the Gaza Strip.

Following are excerpts from some of the responses:

Hamas Members: We Refuse to Teach Lies and FabricationsAccording to a recurring claim, the Jewish version of the Holocaust is both exaggerated and unfounded, and even the Holocaust was invented by the Zionists in order to promote their interests. Palestinian Legislative Council member from Hamas Yunis Al-Astal stated on August 30, 2009 that including the Jewish version of the Holocaust in the curriculum "would be tantamount to a war crime, since it would serve the Zionist oppressors and promote their lies and fabrications."(3)

It was also claimed that Israel's crimes against the Palestinians were worse than those perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews. The proponents of this view demanded that the curriculum include the study of the Palestinian holocaust, contending that it was pointless to teach the Palestinians about the Jewish Holocaust as long as the Jews perpetrate heinous crimes against the Palestinians.

Thus, for example, the president of the Popular Committee of Palestinian Refugees in Khan Yunis, 'Imad Miqdad, said on September 2, 2009: "UNRWA is preparing materials on the Zionist Holocaust for eighth grade students, which contravenes our ethical values. We are categorically opposed to teaching our compatriots these lies. Instead of teaching our sons about the Nakba, the slaughter, the destruction of homes with their inhabitants still inside, [and] the murder of Palestinian children in their classrooms – it [i.e. UNRWA] is preparing study materials for the eighth grade about a nakba called 'the Holocaust.'"(4)


Editor of a Gaza Daily: Zionist Crimes Surpass Nazi Crimes

The editor of the pro-Hamas Gaza-based daily Falastin, Mustafa Al-Sawwaf, stated that the crimes perpetrated by the Zionists against the Palestinians are far worse than those committed by Hitler: "I do not deny that Hitler was a murderous and blood-thirsty Nazi, or that he was a racist and a criminal. But if we compare his crimes with those being committed by the Jews against the Palestinian people, the analogy would be farfetched. Indeed, the Zionists have committed heinous crimes against the Palestinian people, most recently the holocaust in Gaza late last year."

Al-Sawwaf condemned the alleged UNRWA plan for its curriculum: "Does UNRWA seek to brainwash the Gaza youth and to embellish the image of the Jewish murderers and criminals in Gaza – the very ones who slaughtered peaceful and unarmed children, women, and old people? Does the agency want to introduce into its curricula the possibility of coexistence with a murderer who continues to perpetrate massacres day and night, and to make him look righteous?"(5)


Former Khan Yunis Mayor: It Is Not True that the Jews Were in Danger of Extermination

Former Khan Yunis mayor Fayez Abu Shamala deplored the world's inaction in the face of what he called the Palestinian holocaust, and demanded that the curricula incorporate materials on "the Nazis of the 21st century." He stated: "Even if all the world governments conceded that the Holocaust happened according to the Jewish version, it would never convince a Palestinian – because he knows that the world has acknowledged the injustice done to [the Palestinian people] yet disregards the holocaust being perpetrated against it on a daily basis.

"This holocaust is eating away at the Palestinians' flesh with roadblocks, and is breaking its bones with the blockade – while the entire world looks on in silence, [as if] it had swallowed its tongue…

"Can someone being tortured be expected to shed tears over his torturer? Can a victim be expected to wipe the blood off the executioner's knife?... It is not enough for us Palestinians to refuse to teach our children about the Holocaust. We must introduce special classes about the Nazis of the 21st century – the Israeli Jews, [those] criminals [and] terrorists [who] continue to perpetrate a holocaust against us…

"We are experiencing a catastrophe, in which Europe has played a part in order to save the Jews… How can we believe that the Jewish oppressor was once the oppressed, or that someone once [tried] to exterminate [him]?..."(6)


Qatari Columnist: The Holocaust – A Zionist Lie

Columnist for the Qatari daily Al-Raya Ahmad Dhiban contended that the Zionists had fabricated the Holocaust in order to secure the support of the West in perpetrating crimes against the Palestinians. He wrote: "One must keep in mind that the UN is the creation of the WWII victors, that it emerged in a universal climate dominated by the tragic consequences of that war and by the defeat of the German Nazis.

"The Zionist movement cunningly and opportunistically took advantage of this climate, by inventing the legend of the Holocaust and inflating [its importance]. It robbed the Western countries, [causing them] enormous long-term [losses] by laying at their door the moral responsibility for the Holocaust, and by demanding as compensation that they support Israel, refrain from pressuring it, and assist it in all possible ways…

"UNRWA has taken the extremely odd decision to teach the children of the Palestinian refugees about 'the Jewish Holocaust,' which is [nothing but] a false claim and a stratagem [to justify] atrocious oppression and persecution of the Palestinians…"(7)


PA Education Ministry Official: We Will Study the Holocaust When Israel Studies the Nakba

A rather less vehement response came from PA Deputy Education Minister Jihad Zakarna. He said: "When Israel withdraws [from the Palestinian territory], we will be able to sit down and discuss the study of the history of both sides [the Palestinians and the Jews]. However, as long as the Jews occupy our [land] and deny our Nakba and their responsibility for it… we cannot broach this subject.

"When we see Israel teach its students about the massacres of Deir Yassin and Kafr Qasim, among others, then we will teach our students about the Holocaust…

"The Jews may have suffered in the course of history, but we are suffering right now, and priority should be given to ending the torment of those who suffer today rather than of those who suffered yesterday."(8)


Endnotes:
(1) www.palestine-info.info, August 30, 2009.
(2) www.maannews.net, September 2, 2009.
(3) http://www.paltoday.com, August 30, 2009.
(4) http://www.paltoday.com, September 3, 2009.
(5) http://felesteen.ps, September 1, 2009.
(6) http://felesteen.ps, September 2, 2009.
(7) Al-Raya (Qatar), September 1, 2009.
(8) Al-Hayat (London), September 13, 2009.

Source: MEMRI



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