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Reps. Zeldin and Perry Secure Declassification of Damning UNRWA Textbook Report

February 7, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) and Congressman Scott Perry (R, PA-10) have secured the declassification of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) textbook report. On August 6, 2018, Reps. Zeldin and Perry requested a Mandatory Declassification Review of the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) UNRWA textbook report, following the investigation of Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks used by UNRWA for teaching school children in the West Bank and Gaza.

Congressman Lee Zeldin said, “The declassification of the UNRWA textbook report proves to the American people what we have known all along - the UNRWA textbook initiative is a sham. Supplementary material purchased using U.S. tax dollars to counter the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias injected by the PA, is being rejected and not utilized on the ground. It is unacceptable the textbooks that are used delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people, it is unacceptable this program attempts to engrain this hatred in the hearts of children, it is unacceptable American’s hard earned money went towards its funding and its unacceptable the State Department lied to Congress about these very realities. We must ensure funding for UNRWA remains frozen while this and other important issues remain uncorrected, and, going forward, employ greater, accurate oversight and accountability internally within the State Department as well as over these foreign assistance programs ensuring those utilizing U.S. funding are aligned with our nation’s values.”

Congressman Scott Perry said, The declassification of this report is a win for government transparency and the American public. The UNRWA textbook report sheds light on how misreporting from the Department of State directly interfered with the ability of the US Congress to conduct its constitutionally vested oversight. The failures of the State Department and UNRWA allowed systematic anti-Semitic and anti-Israel ideas to flourish in UNRWA schools in the West Bank and Gaza. The harsh reality is that the American taxpayers were unknowingly funding this systematic hatred because key information was withheld from the American public – including my constituents.”

Some important items of note:

  • Textbook content in UNRWA schools does not mention Israel or Judaism and includes regional maps that exclude Israel and content that incites violence;
  • Improper content has included, for example, a math problem, using the number of Palestinian casualties in the first and second intifadas numerically;
  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) controls the content in UNRWA textbooks and refuses to make changes;
  • From 2015 to 2017, the U.S. provided $243 million in educational assistance through the State Department and USAID of which UNRWA currently uses to purchase PA approved English language textbooks in UNRWA schools;
  • UNRWA has over 370 schools in the West Bank and Gaza serving over 300,000 children;
  • When UNRWA developed complementary teaching materials and seminars to address the concerning content following three textbook reviews, some staff refused to attend training and workshops and utilize the supplementary material, which countered anti-Israel, anti-Semitic content;
  • The GAO report concluded that Congress has been unable to fully assess the nature and extent of the material in PA textbooks because of the State Department’s misleading reports to Congress.

The full text of the report can be found here.