The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). According the Congressional Research Service, “Since UNRWA’s inception in 1950, the United States has provided the agency with nearly $4 billion in contributions. U.S. contributions to UNRWA have steadily increased over the past decade, with nearly $228 million thus far for [fiscal year] 2010.” This support is intended to help provide food, shelter, medical care, and education for the Palestinian refugees (and their decedents) fleeing the 1948 Arab–Israeli war.
Unfortunately, there is substantial evidence that UNRWA has become compromised and infiltrated by Hamas supporters and other Palestinian radicals who are using the body and, by extension, U.S. taxpayer dollars to advance their radical agenda. The most recent attempt by Hamas to twist UNRWA into serving its agenda is a demand that the organization cease teaching about the Holocaust in its classes:
Hamas, the Islamic organization which governs Gaza, announced on Monday that it won’t allow inclusion of the Holocaust in the curriculum of Gaza schools, challenging a decision by UNRWA, which runs many of the schools in the enclave, to include the Holocaust in its human rights curriculum.
Muhammad Asqoul, Hamas’ education minister, said his ministry rejected UNRWA’s “tampering” with the education of Gaza children, adding that the matter crossed a red line that Hamas wouldn’t compromise on. The ministry called on UNRWA to refrain from implementing “extra-curricular” activities in the classroom, saying that the new material would harm the students’ academic achievements.
“Adding the Holocaust to the curriculum at this time is an attempt by the Zionist enemy to garner sympathy and deny all of its crimes,” Ihab Al-Sinwar, head of public relations in Gaza’s Culture Ministry, told The Media Line. “The enemy perpetrated worse crimes than those described in the portrayal of what supposedly took place during the Holocaust.”
The United States and other donors to UNRWA and other efforts to assist the Palestinians are generous to a fault. Hamas officially denies Israel’s right to exist, and the organization’s terrorist acts against Israel are inexcusable and undermine efforts to affect a lasting peace. Despite this reality, donors continued their support for the Palestinians even after they elected Hamas to a majority in the Palestinian parliament. Now Hamas wishes to co-opt UNRWA to instill its Holocaust denial propaganda upon the broader Palestinian population. The U.N. and UNRWA should reject this effort unreservedly, and Congress should reevaluate whether American support of UNRWA is merited as long as Hamas remains politically dominant in Gaza and continues to wield undue influence over UNRWA programs and funding.