Illustration: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas by Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs [CC BY-NC 2.0] via Flickr
The Foreign Minister of Germany, Heiko Maas, made a lightning visit to Jerusalem earlier this month, during which the German official asked that Israel be held accountable for its policies.
The time has come for Israel to put the shoe on the other foot, and to hold Germany accountable for its policies.
Germany, which will chair the European Union (EU) in only a few months, is now the leading donor state of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which services the Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war… and their descendants. Germany, as the leading donor, should be aware that 54% of the current UNRWA budget is allocated to an education system which indoctrinates Arab children to make war with Jews.
As such, Germany shoulders a responsibility to assure the people of Germany and the Jewish people that their money is not channeled into a non-peaceful direction.
One of the best and simplest ways of doing that is to check the attitude toward the Israeli/Jewish "other" and toward the issue of peace with that "other" as found in the textbooks issued by the Palestine Liberation Organization for use in UNRWA schools. To that end, all 364 textbooks used by UNRWA have been examined by three journalists with PhD's in Islamic Studies by the Center for Near East Policy Research.
Schoolbooks are the most revealing source of information regarding the values and aspirations a society would instill in the minds of its youngsters. Following a protracted state of war, these texts serve as a trustable indicator of the existence, or non-existence, of peace education.
The Oslo Accord signed by the State of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993 opened a new phase in the Middle East in which both parties were supposed to advance towards a peaceful solution of that war. In 1994, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established by the PLO to rule the West Bank and the Gaza Strip which, until then, were fully administered by Israel.
The PA assumed most governmental powers in those areas, including education. In 2000 it started issuing its own schoolbooks in a process that lasted until 2006. A newer set of PA school books was published between the years 2016-2018.
UNRWA, which has been operating in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza (as well as in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) since 1950, uses the PLO books in its schools. UNRWA, as a U.N. agency, is bound by the U.N. endorsed principle of resolving all conflict peacefully, as well as by the various UNESCO Principles and Guidelines on tolerance and education. As a U.N. agency, UNRWA should treat all member states equally, including the State of Israel.
It is imperative for the German powers-that-be to know whether the PLO textbooks used in UNRWA schools (as well as in all other schools in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip) advocate peace or instead call for an armed struggle; recognize the existence of Israel as a sovereign state in the region with her six-million Jews and their holy places; treat Jewish/Israeli individuals as ordinary human beings; renounce terrorist activity against civilians; and employ self-criticism to monitor these concepts.
Germany, more than any other nation, should be extra-careful while dealing with issues closely connected to the well being of the citizens of the Jewish state. A few months ago, I visited the Bundestag German Parliament, accompanied by professionals who had examined all UNRWA textbooks, and by Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
We briefed seven German political parties with films and studies which documented the new UNRWA war curriculum. The office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel would not meet with us. Unfortunately, even after our visit, Germany increased its funds to UNRWA, granted with no conditions.
The Center for Near East Policy Research is working to translate these films and studies into German so that we can return to Germany to make a high profile presentation in Berlin. We must hold German Chancellor Merkel accountable.
Remember: German instigation of the holocaust commenced in the classroom; we must say, "Never Again."
David Bedein is the Director of the Israel Resource News Agency at The Center for Near East Policy Research (CFNEPR). He has reported for various news outlets, including CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post and he was the Middle East correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin.
The Center focuses its investigations on The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Please contact the Center here for more information and volunteer opportunities.