UNRWA Schools Promote Terrorism, Mimicking Radicalism of Western Education
U.N.-employed school teachers participated in Hamas’s October 7 attack that killed more than 1,400 Israelis, according to information Israeli intelligence officials recently shared with American colleagues. Their participation strikingly parallels a radicalized streak in American education, albeit in service of a more murderous ideology.
The Israeli intelligence-sharing was not new information; it merely provided additional corroborating evidence for what was known previously. “We actually, back in November, talked about this because there was some evidence emerging then,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said on “Washington Watch.”
But the information was new to some people (such as many who still get their news from the legacy media, instead of The Washington Stand). “What was surprising to me is that other people in Washington, D.C. … act as though they’re surprised,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said on “Washington Watch.” “That’s what’s surprising, not the fact that people that literally are working for this relief agency were also the perpetrators of mass atrocities. That’s widely known, unfortunately.”
Perry recently attended a joint hearing on U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in which the organization’s proponents acted as if it didn’t have a track record. “One of the witnesses said, ‘Well, we need to keep paying for this until we make an assessment,’” he related. “This is an assessment that’s been going on for decades.” National Review’s editors also criticized this deliberate forgetfulness. “The support for terrorism within the agency has been well established for decades. The international bureaucrats in charge have chosen to look away time and time again.”
UNRWA’s atrocious track record was one good reason why the Trump administration cut off its funding, before the Biden administration “turned the spigot back on,” Perkins explained. “When President Biden insisted on restarting funding for UNRWA, to the tune of over $1 billion since 2021, there was abundant, well-known evidence, going back decades, that UNRWA provides material support to terrorism,” wrote former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy. “The degree of atrociousness of the October 7 attacks was shocking; but the fact that Hamas carried out attacks and that UNRWA was complicit was as predictable as the sunrise.”
UNRWA’s involvement with Hamas runs much deeper than the few individuals who personally participated in the cross-border raid. In addition to a dozen or so UNRWA employees who participated in the deadly terror attack, nearly 200 UNRWA employees are operatives for Hamas or Islamic Jihad (another terror group), approximately 1,200 are linked to Hamas, and 23% of the group’s male employees are tied to Hamas, compared to 15% of all male Gazans.
“Put simply, U.N. employees participated in a horrific terrorist attack. Many of their colleagues are terrorists, too,” summarized the NR editors. “It’s arguably the biggest scandal in the U.N.’s history, or at least very close to the top of the list.”
UNRWA has supported Hamas in a variety of ways: “UNRWA’s promotion of jihadist ideology in Palestinian schools, its aiding and abetting jihadists in concealing and deploying missiles, its employment of Hamas operatives on the payroll, participation by its employees in terrorist operations,” McCarthy listed. “All of this was well known,” but the people in power didn’t want to pay attention.
“What drives me crazy here in the United States, is that we are one of the largest funders, if not the largest funder, of UNRWA,” said Perkins. “And they’re working against our very ally who we want to help and support.” Perry agreed, “Your tax dollars are paying for the terrorism that you saw on October 7th.” Perhaps not directly, he added, but, “when they use the money that we give them to line a tunnel with cement and then electrify it, and that tunnel is used to attack Israel, then unfortunately, your money is being used to commit terroristic acts.”
For added absurdity, UNRWA is a redundant refugee organization that “gets billions upon billions of dollars,” Perry explained. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which handles refugees everywhere else in the world, “gets a very small fraction of that,” he added. The NR editors noted that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has “a better track record” — which it earned by clearing the very low bar of “not actively promoting terrorism.” Ohad Tal, a member of the Israeli Knesset, added that UNRWA “hasn’t settled even one refugee” in its entire history, leading him to conclude that “the whole purpose of this organization is not to solve the problem for the Palestinians. It’s to keep it as a problem in order to hurt Israel.”
In a Thursday memo, 26 state attorneys general urged leaders of Congress to cut off UNRWA from all future funding over its links to terrorism. “The United States has an aid organization where we give away billions of dollars in foreign aid for these types of humanitarian projects. Why don’t we do it ourselves?” asked Perkins. “Why should we give them the money,” given their ties to terrorism? Perry agreed, “The United States taxpayers should not be involved in paying for that.”
UNRWA schools, in particular, seem central to Hamas’s terrorist enterprise. “UNRWA schools doubled as arms depots and rocket-launch sites,” wrote the NR editors. “Textbooks used in U.N. classrooms glorified terrorism; the teachers did too.”
“In Gaza, you will find that in their textbooks,” said Tal. “How do they learn math? You know how the question is: ‘If I killed three Jews and you slaughtered four Jews, how many Jews did we slaughter all together?’” In recently resurfaced footage from an UNRWA school in East Jerusalem, schoolchildren expressed readiness “to carry out a suicide attack” and argue in favor of “stabbing and trampling Jews.”
That pro-Hamas, anti-Israel attitude still pervades the attitudes of Arabs living in the Gaza Strip and West Bank (more accurately known as Judea and Samaria). “Almost every home has pictures of babies holding rifles and Kalashnikovs, and pictures of dead Jews, and their holding books [like] ‘Mein Kampf’ [by] Adolf Hitler,” complained Tal. According to polling conducted during the December ceasefire, only 10% of Palestinians thought Hamas committed war crimes on October 7, while 57% in Gaza and 82% in the West Bank said the attack was justified. “That culture has been facilitated in many ways by the United Nations and the Relief Works Agency,” Perkins noted.
During a trip with congressmen to the West Bank 13 years ago, Perkins recalled, “We got a briefing from the panel on the Palestinian Authority by Palestinian Watch on how children were being indoctrinated. I’m just wondering if any of those children indoctrinated back then by UNRWA … grew up to be the terrorists who were a part of these October 7th attacks.”
“No matter where it happens on the globe, when teachers engage in this kind of indoctrination, it robs students of their education (and in some cases even their lives),” said Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council senior fellow for Education Studies.
The most surprising thing about the jihadist indoctrination taking place in UNRWA schools is that UNRWA allegedly provides “secular education, rooted in U.N. principles.” In other words, these are not supposed to be Islamic schools. These are not madrasas — schools attached to a mosque, which feature heavily in Islamic education.
Secular education is, both historically and definitionally, an invention of Western nations whose public discourse has been informed by Christianity; Islam doesn’t provide for the separation of church and state. Secular education is also supposed to be neutral towards religion, but that is rarely, if ever, the case.
Not only has secular education grown increasingly hostile to religious belief, in recent years it has also been weaponized to promote radical ideologies — and not just in Gaza. In Gaza, UNRWA’s Western-style schools promote jihadism because that is the prevailing brand of extremism. In the U.S. and other countries, radicalized education establishments promote their own radical ideologies — albeit less murderous ones.
“In the U.S. version of this horror show, students are instructed in ‘action civics’ which replaces curriculum designed to explain how government works and the citizen’s role in society with sloganeering protests and vapid or overly sexualized group projects,” Kilgannon described. “The deployment of students to shill for gun control after the deadly shooting in Florida is an example of how this works in the U.S. Max Eden’s book ‘Why Meadow Died’ is a heartbreaking review of that situation and how it was caused by and then exploited by progressive activists.”
It’s not just gun control. In the past two years, American students have dramatically walked out of class to participate in left-wing protests against pro-life decisions, SAFE Acts, pro-parent policies, girls’ sports protections, and climate change. In many cases, the students were coached, if not coaxed, to rally in support of these left-wing causes by radicalized teachers who probably protest on the same issues.
It’s important to clarify what I’m saying, and what I’m not saying. In American schools, many teachers have become activists for a radical ideology. They not only agitate for their causes themselves, but they use their position as teachers to indoctrinate their students and train them up to be little left-wing activists. This same pattern is evident in UNRWA’s Western-style schools in Gaza, where terrorist-linked teachers not only participated in terrorism but trained their student to do the same. The difference, of course, is the radical ideology that teachers hold and promote. In Gaza, it’s jihadist terrorism. In American schools, the ideologies teachers promote are transgenderism, radical feminism, various forms of Marxism, climatism, and other vogue left-wing “-isms.” These ideologies may be less deadly than pro-Hamas jihadism, but that doesn’t make them harmless.
It’s also important to clarify that not every teacher is a radical ideologue; many do want to give their students a sound education, despite swimming against a stream of indoctrination. “Thank God for the many wonderful teachers who are on the front lines opposing this kind of politicization,” Kilgannon emphasized. Parents and teachers need to know there are alternatives to this indoctrination. “Groups like the Civics Alliance offer alternative curricula that offer education without the politics,” she added.
However, this dire parallel requires, at a minimum, that parents engage in the process. Said Kilgannon, “These situations are why it is so important for Americans to engage at the local level, to ensure our own children are not exploited by agenda-driven radicals.”
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.