UN prevented Erdan from displaying pro-Hitler posts by UNRWA teacher
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UN prevented Erdan from displaying pro-Hitler posts by UNRWA teacher

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UN security personnel stopped Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan from bringing a display poster into the General Assembly showing a social media post by an UNRWA teacher that glorified Hitler.

“I see it as a very dangerous precedent here, preventing my freedom of expression, preventing my freedom of speech and basically hiding the truth from the UN,” Erdan said when he complained about the matter during his public speech to the UNGA on Monday.

He had meant to display the post during a discussion on the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, so that he could illustrate his concern about the problem of incitement in UNRWA schools.

“I am shocked because I brought here with me a photo of an UNRWA teacher’s post glorifying the most horrific mass murderer in history, Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately, shockingly, I was prevented from bringing in this photo in order to share this proof with the other distinguished ambassadors here,” Erdan said.

A UN spokesperson explained to The Jerusalem Post that protocol prevents ambassadors from using props when delivering speeches.

Heads of state, who speak during the high level opening sessions that takes place very September can do so, the spokesperson added.

On Monday the UNGA heard a report from UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini about the challenges of servicing 5.7 million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Lazzarini also addressed allegations of  incitement and antisemitism in some of its classrooms and in some social media posts by its staff.

“I am deeply proud of our education system and its resources. UNRWA uses host country curricula in line with best practices in refugee education,” Lazzarini said.

The schools teach their pupils about human rights, conflict resolution, tolerance, gender equality and democracy, he said.

“Let’s be clear,” Lazzarini said, that UNRWA has “a zero tolerance policy for hate speech, incitement, discrimination, hostility or violence.

“I am, however, acutely aware that we are operating in a highly divided and emotionally charged environment where zero risk does not exist,” he said.

In his 30 years of humanitarian experience, Lazzarini said, he had never seen an organization that had gone to the lengths that UNRWA has to keep in line with humanitarian values.

“We review all host country textbooks to identify passages that are not in line with UN principles or values.

Any passages that praise violence, whatever the context, are knocked out,” he said.

He charged that those who attack UNRWA seek to discredit the agency for political reasons.

A Palestinian teacher conducts a class for students in an UNRWA-run school that reopened after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions were eased, at al-Fari’ah refugee camp, in the West Bank April 12, 2021. (credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS)

“Politically motivated attacks on our education system and more broadly against the agency are increasing in frequency and in aggression,” said Lazzarini.

“Those behind these attacks do not have the well-being of Palestinian refugee children at heart,” he added.

Their goal is to delegitimize the agency by eroding the rights of Palestinians, according to Lazzarini.

Erdan, in addressing the UNGA, said that his attack on UNRWA was factual and not political.

“Hamas has built terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and stored weapons”, said Erdan. “Textbooks used in UNRWA schools have glorified terrorists, called Jews Satan’s helpers and display maps that erase Israel,” he stated.

“UNRWA is part of the problem, not the solution”, Erdan said, “and the time has come for the International community to hold it accountable”.

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