Photo Credit: Majdi Fathi/TPS
The Field Offices of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza city. Gaza, Nov 17, 2020

More than 100 employees of a United Nations’ aid agency have posted content on social media that spreads hatred against Israel and Israelis, encourages anti-Semitism, and supports terrorism, a new report by the UN Watch shows.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which runs schools and social services in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Arab countries around Israel, is now facing calls to fire employees who use social media to celebrate attacks on Israelis and promote anti-Jewish hatred.

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According to the meticulous documentation in the report, over 100 UNRWA educators and staff have publicly promoted violence and anti-Semitism on social media.

UN Watch, an independent human rights group based in Geneva, published a report Monday entitled “Beyond the Textbooks,” which uncovers recent cases of UNRWA staff incitement which clearly violates the agency’s own rules as well as its proclaimed values of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination or anti-Semitism.

Among the educators who have used their personal social media channels for such propaganda is UNRWA Gaza math teacher Nahed Sharawi, who shared a video of Adolf Hitler with inspirational quotes to “enrich and enlighten your thoughts and minds.”

Husni Masri, a UNRWA teacher in the PA, posted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories according to which Jews control the world, created the Coronavirus, and seek to destroy Islam.

Shady Shehada, Project Engineer at UNRWA in Gaza, celebrated the Munich Massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972.

UN Watch’s report lists a total of 113 cases that it captured from UNRWA employees’ public pages alone, all celebrating and promoting violence, even among young children.

The report only examined a sample of Facebook users who publicly identified themselves as UNRWA employees, and estimates that the actual number of UNRWA staff who incite violence and hatred includes many more of the agency’s 30,000 staff.

“Were UNRWA itself to examine its employees, on and off Facebook, it can reasonably be estimated that thousands of UNRWA employees would be implicated,” the UN watchdog said.

UN Watch further reveals that despite its numerous prior requests and submission of detailed evidence, UNRWA has failed to fire teachers who incite to racism and terrorism, nor has it taken any other meaningful action.

“UNRWA should therefore be considered complicit in its staff members’ misconduct,” said UN Watch.

UN Watch is now calling on the agency’s major funders, including the US, Germany, the UK and the European Union, to hold UNRWA accountable to its own standards and commitments.

UN Watch Director Hillel Neuer stated that “around the world, educators who incite hate and violence are removed, yet UNRWA, despite proclaiming zero tolerance for incitement, knowingly and systematically employs purveyors of terror and anti-Jewish hate.”

“We call on the governments that fund UNWRA to take action to stop the vicious cycle of generations being taught to hate and violently attack Jews. We demand that UNRWA address the core problem, and demonstrate its genuine commitment to basic norms of education in its schools, by publicly condemning UNWRA employees who incite terrorism and anti-Semitism, removing them from their positions, and creating an independent and impartial investigation of all of its staff,” he stated.

Similar reports by other organizations have been published in the past, and almost without exception, the UNRWA has failed to take action.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.