Rumors of a UN decision to re-introduce Holocaust studies in schools run by UNRWA — the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees — have raised the ire of Jordanian teachers, who say they will refuse to teach history that “harms the Palestinian cause.”
In a statement issued Monday, the Executive Committee of UNRWA teachers in Jordan responded to rumors that Holocaust studies would be reintroduced this year to the enrichment curriculum on conflict resolution, which is taught in schools operated by the UN agency in Palestinian refugee camps.
“We condemn this decision, which equates the butcher and the victim,” read the teachers’ statement, demanding instead to introduce classes on the Palestinian “right of return” to Israel and the history of the 1948 war with Israel.
Some 2 million Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA’s Jordan offices. The UN agency operates 172 schools in 10 refugee camps across the kingdom, serving a total of over 122,000 students.
‘Teaching UNRWA students about the so-called ‘Holocaust’ as part of human rights harms the Palestinian cause … and changes the students’ views regarding their main enemy, namely the Israeli occupation’
Last year, the association of UNRWA employees endorsed a decision to ban the introduction of Holocaust studies in UNRWA schools, Jordanian daily Al-Ghad reported Tuesday, a decision the teachers said was still binding.
“We shall monitor the curriculum being taught under the title ‘concepts of human rights’ [which is] aimed at reducing [Palestinian] students’ awareness of the right of return,” read the statement.
“Teaching UNRWA students about the so-called ‘Holocaust’ as part of human rights harms the Palestinian cause… and changes the students’ views regarding their main enemy, namely the Israeli occupation.”
Since 2009, Hamas in Gaza has actively opposed UNRWA’s attempts to introduce the Holocaust into school curriculum in Gaza, claiming that it contradicted Palestinian culture.
According to Al-Ghad, UNRWA denied any intention of introducing the Holocaust as part of its enrichment courses this year, claiming that it abides by the school curriculum of the refugees’ host countries.
A spokesman for UNRWA was unavailable for comment at time of publication.