by Dogan Akman
Prime Minister Trudeau never misses an opportunity, to claim that he and his government stand up for Canadian values and indeed for universal values and human rights. These universal values and rights include those enunciated and prescribed by the United Nations and, with respect to the subject at hand, Trudeau also claims that Canada is Israel’s good/close friend and steadfast/strong ally and that his government is ready and able to fight world terrorism with its allies.
Whatever the veracity of these claims may be, their truth does not extend to the Trudeau government’s policy and practices w concerning Canada’s financing of UNRWA’s educational services, presumably in accord with the Prime Minister’s thinking. Despite his Minister’s utterances, the government has exhibited and continues to exhibit a malevolent hypocrisy both at home and towards the Israeli Jews and Israel.
In 2010, the Conservative government led by Stephen Harper cancelled Canada’s annual contribution of $25 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) including in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) on the grounds that the school books published by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and used by all UNRWA schools were poisoned by hatred against Jews and Israel.
In 2016, the Trudeau government reversed the Harper decision. On November 16, 2016 the Minister of International Development, Marie Claude Bibeau announced in the House of Commons that the government had reinstated funding. The reinstatement of this contribution occurred in the midst of allegations that UNRWA is tied too closely to Hamas, which Canada designated a terrorist organisation, and despite the well substantiated evidence that the textbooks used by UNRWA are toxic in their treatment of Israel.
The Minister stated that a portion of these monies contributes to the financing of the schooling of “vulnerable Palestinian refugees” attending UNRWA schools. The Minister mellifluously justified the decision on the grounds that “Millions of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East have the right …to send their children to school. We want to see Palestinian refugee children in classrooms where they can learn universal values of tolerance and respect. Vulnerable Palestinians deserve all the opportunities they can to contribute positively to their communities and Canada’s funding will help to better the lives of millions of refugees.” (Italics mine)
However, as I propose to demonstrate, Canada’s financing of UNWRA’s schooling system has been wilfully ignorant of the truth and deceitful in the extreme.
The announcement in the House of Commons was greeted with cries of “shame” from the members of the Conservative Party, the Official opposition. Andrew Sheer, then a member of the opposition, stated the truth when he pointed out, “humanitarian money should go to groups which focus on aid, not politics and that “UNRWA is an obstacle to achieving peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
In the aftermath of the announcement government officials stated that Canada would monitor closely the contents of the school books used by UNRWA. As it turned out, these officials were either being deceived by their superiors and/or Minister Bibeau, or freelancing in fibbing, and/or as is most likely the case, failing to actually investigate claims made by UNRWA that it had satisfied the UN ethics requirements as expected by Canada.
The history of the hypocrisy
On February 2, 2017, UN Watch appeared before the United States House Foreign Affairs Committee and presented “A Report on UNRWA Teachers’ Incitement to Jihadist Terrorism and Antisemitism.”
The report exposes more than 40 Facebook pages operated by school teachers, principals, and other employees of UNRWA whose materials incite terrorism or antisemitism. These cases are additional to the 30 cases of incitement revealed at the end of 2015 by U.N. Watch.
The examples of incitement included UNRWA teachers and staffers celebrating the terrorist kidnapping of Israeli teenagers, cheering rockets being fired at Israeli civilian centres, endorsing various forms of violence, erasing Israel from the map, praising Hitler and posting his photo, and posting overtly anti-Semitic videos, caricatures, and statements.
The report concludes that UNRWA’s major donors and other donor states bear a responsibility to ensure that UNRWA lives up to its obligations as a UN humanitarian organization, and then proceeds to outline the specific actions which the donors must take to remedy UNRWA’s severe corruption of its mandate.
On May 4th, 2017, in Parliament, Conservative MP Dean Allison asked Minister Bibeau the following question:
“Mr. Speaker, UN Watch is now reporting [that], UNRWA hires and employs racist staff, and places the education of impressionable Palestinian youth in their hands. Canada would never tolerate the employment of racist teachers in its own schools.” Why are the Liberals funding this U.N organization where there is clear evidence that it employs racist antisemites and terror sympathizers?
The Minister replied: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my colleague that, ever since Canada restored funding to this UN agency for Palestinian refugees, we have been following it very closely, and Canada’s presence at the table is making a difference. We are ensuring that background checks are done on all financial services employees. We have helped train 3,000 employees so far, including executives and teachers, on the importance of web independence, and we are reviewing the educational materials. I would rather see those children in that UN school than on the street.”
Contrary to the Minister’s gratuitous assertion, a proper U.N. school is one whose curriculum is consistent with the universal educational standards established by UNESCO and staffed by proper teachers committed to teach in accordance with these standards.
Canada did not respond to U.N. Watch’s call for action and ignored the specific recommendations of the Report directly bearing on the issue of incitement and antisemitism with respect to the textbooks used in the UNRWA schools. Nor did the Canadian media give this important story much, if any, play that it deserved.
Two other research oriented NGO’s have provided significant evidence of the many breaches of the UN required ethics and values exhibited in UNRWA educational materials.
The Jerusalem- based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, “IMPACT is a research, policy and advocacy organization that monitors and analyzes education. It employs international standards on peace and tolerance as derived from UNESCO declarations and resolutions to determine compliance and to advocate for change when necessary.
“A pioneer in the field of textbook analysis, IMPACT presents a clear picture of how different nations educate their children in relation to religion, societies, cultures, democratic values and the ‘Other’. It is dedicated to peacemaking between peoples and nations by encouraging acceptance of others and [the] aim of the organisation is to prevent radicalization of children and youth as the most vulnerable members of society. We believe that children should be nurtured and prepared for futures of hope, success and happiness while taught to embrace mutual respect and acceptance of others who may differ in various ways from themselves.”
The Center for Near East Policy Research (CNEPR) is “dedicated to proactive, investigative research and the publication of well-documented data on the core issues of Israeli-Arab relations, in order to provide insight into the complex reality of Israel for decision makers, journalists and the general public.”
“The Center is currently calling attention to the humanitarian plight of the Palestinian refugees in UNRWA-administered refugee camps with a suggested reform of UNRWA policies, to adopt standards of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) criteria used for refugee rehabilitation worldwide.”
“In June 2017, CNEPR issued a 260 page detailed research report on the contents of the most recently updated school books issued by th