Reversing Trump policy, Biden admin may return to funding UN agency accused of antisemitism

The Biden administration appears set to once again provide taxpayer funding for a Palestinian-centric UN organization that was defunded by the Trump White House following credible claims of anti-Semitism and incitement of violence against Jews.

The administration’s policy reversal nevertheless comes amid new calls for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to rid its education system of anti-Semitism and hatred directed at Jews, Fox News reported Friday.

Jewish human rights group, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, has requested that UN Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres denounce the UNRWA over its educational curriculum, which the center says involves propagandizing roughly 300,000 Palestinian youth attending schools in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip to hate Jews.

One center official, Associate Dean Rabbi Cooper, said he raised concerns about the UNRWA after a meeting with Guterres’ envoy. In an interview with Fox News, Cooper said he and some colleagues gave the secretary general’s representative a descriptive analysis of the Palestinian aid organization that included anti-Semitic materials presented to students. Cooper went on to describe the materials as “intolerable.”

“We implore UN Secretary-General Guterres to condemn once and for all the anti-Semitic, intolerant, pro-war, anti-peace education taking place in UNRWA schools,” Cooper said. 

“This is an especially crucial time as the Abrahamic Accords have created real momentum for peace and reconciliation between Arabs and Jews, a development which should encourage real change among Palestinians,” he added, according to Fox News.

In 2018, the same year then-President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, his administration announced that it would end financial aid to the UNRWA, calling it an “irredeemably flawed operation.”

But last month, Biden administration officials said during a UN Security Council meeting that the White House was planning to restore aid funding to the Palestinians.

Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, corroborated that, telling a reporter this week it’s “something we are working on very quickly to restore and to announce.”

Critics railed against the decision, not least because there is little-to-no accountability for the funds to Americans footing the bill.

“Taxpayers have zero oversight over UNRWA’s books. UNRWA has no board of directors and has long denied the U.S. the right to an independent audit,” Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a UNRWA expert, told Fox News. He added that Congress needs to insert itself and demand accountability from the organization so taxpayers don’t “get taken for a billion-dollar ride.”

Other experts continued their criticism of the organization’s anti-Jewish curriculum.

“In the last three years the (UNRWA) curriculum has changed from incitement to indoctrination and to brainwashing the children for war against the Jews,” David Bedein, who helped present information to Guterres’ envoy, told Fox News.

His group, the Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research, provided some examples of school materials indicative of incitement and anti-Semitism: 

“But the Jews [in the city of Medina] did not respect the treaty [they had concluded with Muhammad] and resorted to all sorts of treachery, betrayal and hostility, which forced the Muslims to fight them,” (Islamic Education, Grade 7, Part 1 (2020) p. 52)

“The Jews’ intrigues and conspiracies were the immediate reasons for the [Jewish fortress] Khaybar expedition.” (Islamic Education, Grade 9, Part 1 (2020) p. 62)

Cooper went on to note that the Biden administration should use its financial leverage to insist on changes in curriculum taught to Palestinian children.

“That single policy decision can help break the cycle of systemic child abuse plaguing Palestinian society and help set the table for reconciliation and mutual respect between Palestinians and Israelis,” he told Fox News.

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Jon Dougherty

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