Is Philippe Lazzarini, the Head of UNRWA, Making Fun of Us?

AMISOM Public Information, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I recently participated and spoke at a protest against the Jew-hatred in UNRWA’s textbooks. Here is my condensed take on the situation

The head of the UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, acknowledged that Palestinian textbooks contain – and I quote – “problematic material.

There, this could be the end of my speech here… the problem is that we live in a world where the head of an organization can admit that their textbooks are inciting Jew-hatred, and literally nothing happens afterward.

This information – something that has been a known fact for years – came out in the mainstream news three months ago. Anyone with the right moral compass would assume that UNRWA stopped using those textbooks at that exact moment. 

Sadly, this is not the case. 

Correct me if I am wrong, but the United Nations was created on the ashes of the horrors of the Second World War. Its goal is to sustain peace and security. So here is a somewhat rhetorical question: how can you build peace while teaching hatred? 

UNRWA was created to help Palestinian refugees. But this is no ordinary agency. It’s the only one in the world that helps only one specific group of people. There is no UN Uyghur refugee agency, or any UN group to specifically help the Ukrainian refugees from Crimea.  Why doesn’t the UN care as much about other so-called refugees?

But there is more to this. UNRWA is the only agency where refugee status is inheritable; there is only one refugee group that is growing as opposed to shrinking. What it means in practice is that the great-grandchildren of refugees are also considered refugees, regardless of them living the American dream for example. 

This is not solving the problem but creating more problems and it redirects anger towards Israel and therefore, towards Jews. 

But UNRWA is also the only “refugee” agency that provides school books that glorify terrorism and normalize Jew-hatred. 

It somewhat breaks one’s hope for a better future when we trust an organization to make our world more peaceful, only to find out that they are doing the opposite behind our backs. 

Imagine that right now, 320,000 students are learning math by counting dead Jews. One-dead-Jew plus one-dead-Jew equals two-dead-Jews. How is this acceptable in 2021? And what are the domino effects of such teaching? 

How are we supposed to create a better future if 6-7-years-old-kids are indoctrinated with hatred? 

How are we supposed to create a more peaceful future if children are taught in school that terrorism against Jews is something to strive for? 

We are talking about the UN and its special agency. We are talking about the largest non-governmental institution out there whose mission was and is to protect us, to protect our children, to protect our future. 

How did we allow for so many years for these Institutions to do the complete opposite and instead of protecting children, to actually abuse them? 

At first, we can naively assume that there was a glitch in the system. 

Well, already for this to have occurred, we need to have been very, very naïve. 

But I feel that the head of UNRWA is making fun of me, fun of you, and fun of us all when he admits that these textbooks are filled with Jew-hatred, but does absolutely nothing to address that. 

Should I assume that it is once again because of Money Talks, Bullshit Walks? Is it because UNRWA employs the largest number of people among the UN’s agencies? UNRWA – a niche agency – employs 28,000 people. To translate this in simple terms, it means that if there were peace, 28,000 bureaucrats would lose their jobs. So maybe peace is not the ultimate goal after all? Maybe UNRWA employees have an incentive to create a humanitarian crisis?

But it gets worse.

The countries that fund UNRWA and most of the people on the street assume that our money is actually channeled into UNRWA to help people – to help bring about peace. Instead, UNRWA traps the next generation in a cycle of hatred and violence.   

Seeing what UNRWA does makes me feel cheated in my hopes and in my dreams. I spend my days fighting for a better world – so why is UNRWA working against my hopes and my dreams? 

Why does UNRWA work against our kids’ future?

We demand action because this is not a political matter. It is a human rights matter. 

This is not about Israel vs. the Palestinian cause. This is not a partisan issue. This is not even a solely Jewish issue. Whoever tells you otherwise is adding to the cycle of Jew-hatred. 

To be clear, this is a human rights issue. This is about UNRWA abusing children who were born pure,  brainwashing them with hatred by the time they turn teenagers. Becoming a suicide bomber or a terrorist is not what a child should ever aspire to become. 

UNRWA denies children a better future. It robs them of their innocence and opportunity. It denies them peace and prosperity. And with that, UNRWA denies the world a better future. 



Virag Gulyas

Virag is a digital communications strategist and personal branding consultant. She is also a loud pro-Israel advocate, the founder of Almost Jewish, a pro-Israel movement that aims to change the stereotypes about Israel and the Jewish people one day at a time.