A recent resolution passed by the European Parliament expressed concern about “hate speech and violence” taught in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), an organization generously funded by the EU. While UNRWA’s critics have long documented the ways its schools inculcate anti-Semitism and support for terrorism into students, until recently Europe has studiously ignored this information. Shany Mor writes:
The resolution reflects two trends in European engagement with the Palestinian issue. First, the Europeans are increasingly concerned about anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian educational materials. They are also troubled by the use of European aid money to fund activities that encourage violence or terrorism by Palestinian factions.
Second, policymakers in Europe are finally beginning to ask tough questions about the kind of organization UNRWA is and whether it is facilitating peace at all. UNRWA’s corruption, its mismanagement, its turning a blind eye to the misuse of its facilities by terrorist organizations, and especially its anti-peace educational materials are now on the agendas of the European Parliament as well as an increasing number of actors in European domestic politics.
UNRWA’s biggest problem, [however], is not corruption or mismanagement or even incitement. UNRWA exists not to mitigate the effects of the Arab-Israeli conflict but rather to exacerbate them. Rather than solving the refugee problem, UNRWA’s dishonest recognition of descendants of refugees perpetuates this problem and ensures that the unrealistic demand for a Palestinian “right of return” will continue to stymie final-status peace negotiations in the future, just as it has since the failed 2000 Camp David summit.