US Funding of UNRWA Conditional on Agency Reform
The International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) and the ‘UNRWA: Stop Teaching Hate’ campaign welcome the intention of the United States government to impose conditions on the renewed funding of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA).
The U.S. State Department has issued guidelines requiring that the funding of the UN agency charged with the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees be made conditional on the removal of hate and incitement from educational materials used in their schools. Presenting his 2022 State Department budget to the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that the renewal of funding was conditional on very necessary reforms at UNRWA.
He stated that UNRWA “disseminates in its educational products anti-Semitic or anti-Israel information” and described the content of UNRWA educational materials as an “abuse of the system” and states that US is “determined that UNRWA pursue very necessary reforms.” He confirmed that the Biden administration’s renewal of the UN agency’s funding will be conditioned on removal of hate from educational materials, and ensuring that educational content taught in UN schools and summer camps respects human rights. They are also required to commit to preventing the entry of weapons and the improper use of UNRWA facilities, and to maintain neutrality. He added that the State Department would be “looking very, very carefully” at the mechanisms that UNRWA says it has in place in order to address hateful educational materials.
The U.S. ceased its funding of UNRWA in September 2018, following an announcement by President Donald Trump, but the Biden administration announced in March that it would resume funding and send $150 million in economic aid to UNRWA. Blinken’s statement represents the first time that any Democratic administration has acknowledged that UNRWA’s educational content contains antisemitism and messages which perpetuate the conflict. It follows condemnation of UNRWA for teaching hate by the European Parliament, and the announcement that Canada and Australia have also launched investigations into antisemitism and incitement in UNRWA school textbooks.
On June 16, 2021, the ‘UNRWA: Stop Teaching Hate’ campaign issued the following statement: “This is a very exciting and positive step toward improving the education and future lives of Palestinian school children. The life of all people in the Middle East will be improved in many ways if young Palestinians are educated to be qualified for careers in modern society, rather than being taught violence and hate with only martyrdom as an ambition.”
‘UNRWA: Stop Teaching Hate’ is a project of several Jewish NGOs at the UN in New York. They have been working toward conditioning of UNRWA funds for three years, lobbying politicians and publicizing the research materials gathered by David Bedein’s Center for Near East Policy Research. You can learn more about ‘UNRWA: Stop Teaching Hate’ at www.reformUNRWA.com. ICJW representative Dr. Joan Lurie, one of the leaders of the ‘UNRWA: Stop Teaching Hate’ campaign, is available for interviews. She can be contacted at: drjoan(at)gmail.com