UNRWA scraps plan to teach Holocaust
By Omar Obeidat
At a meeting with staff committees, Sandra Mitchell, director of UNRWA operations in the Kingdom, said no additional subjects would be adopted without consultation with the Ministry of Education in Jordan, a statement issued by the teachers committee quoted her as saying Thursday.
The committee urged teachers and students to continue the teaching and learning process as the relief agency affirmed its commitment to teaching Jordanian textbooks at UNRWA-run schools.
On Wednesday, UNRWA teachers in the country threatened to escalate measures by staging work stoppages and strikes if the relief agency continues with a plan to include the Holocaust in school textbooks.
A recent statement announcing the plan triggered a wave of protest among UNRWA Arab cadres in the five areas of operation - Jordan, Lebanon, theWest Bank, Gaza and Syria.
Sami Mshasha, UNRWA’s spokesperson in the West Bank, has said that the agency, which provides education and health services to over four million Palestinian refugees, planned to include an “enrichment” subject on human rights that includes the Holocaust.
A member of the executive committee for teachers, who attended the meeting with Mitchell, told The Jordan Times that the UNRWA statement “was probably meant to be a test balloon to detect the reaction of teachers and refugees in general but due to the strong opposition, the agency retracted its plans”.
Asked whether the agency would continue with plans to include the enrichment subject on human rights in other fields of operations, the source said the Union of Arab Workers at UNRWA would refuse to teach such a topic.
In a statement issued March 13, the union said that teachers, students and their parents as well as all Palestinian refugees were shocked by the agency’s plans, describing them as “attempts to derail the relief agency from its main duty of providing humanitarian services to refugees”.
The statement stressed that this topic, the Holocaust, should not be allowed to enter UNRWA schools in the five fields of operation, calling on the organisation to include an “enrichment” topic about the right of refugees to return to their homeland.