[The following was sent to Andrew Whitley, Director of the UNRWA Representative Office in New York.]
I read an article posted today on the website of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) titled “Hamas rips U.N. for teaching the Holocaust.” The article speaks about the refusal by Hamas to allow Palestinian Arab teenagers to learn about the history of the Holocaust. The Hamas reaction, according to JTA, was to call the Holocaust “a lie invented by Zionists” and referred to the concept of Holocaust education as a “war crime.”
The article was ambiguous about UNRWA’s stance on the topic of Holocaust education to Palestinian Arab teenagers. On the one hand, the article claims that UNRWA is “switching to a textbook for Gaza schoolchildren that includes a chapter on the Holocaust,” but on the other hand, the article says, “A UNRWA spokesman told Reuters that the Holocaust was not part of the current curriculum. He would not comment on any possible changes.”
I am writing you to ask if UNRWA is, in fact, providing Holocaust education in its schools. If UNRWA is, then the organization should be commended for its pursuit of tolerance, dialogue, and remembrance. UNRWA has much to be proud of if their sponsored schools have joined the enlightened world in teaching the Holocaust so that future genocides can be prevented. UNRWA should feel no shame in contradicting those that deny the history of the Holocaust and who view the teaching of world history a “war crime.” In fact, UNRWA can feel confident that it is operating within the framework of the UN General Assembly’s resolution (A/RES/60/7) which calls for condemnation “without reserve” of Holocaust denial.
I hope you will agree with me that it would be in UNRWA’s interest to publicly disclose its views on Holocaust education and what actions UNRWA is taking toward the teaching of this turning point in world history to its Palestinian Arab constituents. I look forward to your response.
CC: the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme
[See also Alan Dershowitz’s blog post about this topic.]