UNRWA response to “For the sake of the Nakba” film shown on Israel’s Channel 1

27 August 2010

27 August 2010

On 7 August, IBA Channel One‘s Royim Olam Programme broadcast a film made by David Bedein, titled “For the Sake of the Nakba”. The film contains many serious inaccuracies, which UNRWA drew to the attention of the host of Royim Olam Programme before it was shown. As a result, the programme showed in full the UNRWA Spokesperson’s rebuttal of the film’s allegations. Key elements of the rebuttal are outlined below for the record.

The film states that an UNRWA school held a memorial for a female suicide bomber, Ayat al-Akhras, and commissioned paintings of her throughout the school. The film shows murals of her inside a school. In fact the school in question is not UNRWA’s, nor do we have any affiliation with it. UNRWA did not have a memorial for or commission paintings of Ayat al-Akhras.

The film suggests that a mural of a suicide bomber is part of the entrance to an UNRWA school in Dheisheh camp, West Bank. In fact it is not part of the school and UNRWA has control over its own installations only. Like all UNRWA installations in the West Bank, the installation head and the US-funded international team of Operation Support Officers verify neutrality through strict rules and regular inspections.

The film states that UNRWA schools “adhere to a curriculum that inculcates anti-Israel teachings at every level” and quotes a 12th grade textbook. In fact UNRWA does not teach 12th grade and this is not an UNRWA textbook. UNRWA uses the Palestinian Authority curriculum, which a 2003 independent report commissioned by the United States concluded is “peaceful”, and one in which “religious and political tolerance is emphasized”.

“The film simply does not portray reality in UNRWA schools. Each day UNRWA teaches 500,000 Palestinian students and is committed to providing them with the tools and skills to expand their horizons and assist them towards self-reliance,” said UNRWA Spokesperson Sami Mshasha.

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

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