Building up “Resistance”
In the past, Hamas, as rulers of Gaza, have repeatedly reacted strongly to reports the UN agency UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), which runs almost half of the schools in Gaza, planned to teach students about the Holocaust as part of its “human rights” module. This was called a “crime against Palestinians” and even a “war crime” while the Holocaust was described as “a lie made up by the Zionists.” (Indeed, even Palestinian teachers unaffiliated with Hamas working for UNRWA have said that they will never teach about the Holocaust.)
So UNRWA has never taught about the Holocaust and indeed has denied it ever planned to.
However, this is not good enough for Hamas. Hamas has now charged UNRWA with “unlawfully” using unapproved textbooks to teach about human rights. Education Ministry spokesman Mu’tasim Al-Minawi complained that the textbooks used by UNRWA “refer to [Mahatma] Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Helen Suzman, the Soweto Uprising, the Magna Carta and Apartheid, even though Islamic-Arab-Palestinian alternatives exist.” But worse still, he says, the textbooks focused on “peaceful resistance as the only way of achieving freedom and independence.” They thus “domesticate the psyche of the Palestinian pupil, fostering negative feelings toward armed resistance,” he said.
Hamas is also making sure that students are not only taught about the virtues of “armed resistance”, but also how to carry it out. Their “al-Futuwwa” program, based in many Gaza high schools, trains thousands of teenage boys yearly to use rifles, machine guns and RPGs. Students are also supposed to actively participate in the operational activity of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’ military-terrorist wing), such as night patrols, security missions and manning roadblocks. Using minors in this way is a clear war crime.
So Hamas is essentially demanding the UN help it indoctrinate Gaza youth to be terrorists. And unfortunately, given UNRWA’s record of past cravenness in the face of Hamas demands, they’ll likely comply.
Here’s the thing – UNRWA is overwhelmingly funded by Western nations. The US, European states and Japan supplied 71% of its budget last year. Australia also provides substantial funds – promising A$90 million over five years in 2012, and an additional emergency grant of A$4.6 million last year. UNRWA is already an obstacle to peace – wholeheartedly supporting the legally bogus “Palestinian right of return”, helping indoctrinate students to the rejectionist Palestinian narrative and agreeing to work with, and even employ, terrorists.
Are Australia and other funders of UNRWA now prepared to pay to help Hamas not only deny the Holocaust but indoctrinate students to the virtues of “armed resistance”? Frankly, if so, we are guilty of child abuse. There is no other term for it.
The Zionist Koran
Correcting some all too common myths, I have previously written in these pages about the reality of the antisemitism that was reasonably widespread in Muslim lands well before they were affected by either European colonialism or Zionism. However, I do want to make it clear that I do not view mistreatment of Jews as inherent to Islam any more than it is inherent to Christianity. As always in such religious questions, it is all about the passages one emphasises, and the interpretations one uses.
There certainly are segments of the Koran and other traditional Islamic religious sources, such as the Hadiths, that can and often have been interpreted in antisemitic ways. However, they do not have to be, and there are other texts which could be read to forbid such hatred.
Indeed, there are even texts that support Zionism and the right of the Jews to a homeland in Israel. A small number of Muslims internationally cite these verses as reasons for Muslims to support Israel.
Relevant Koranic verses include:
Sura, 5:20-21 – “Remember Moses said to his people: ‘0 my people! Call in remembrance the favour of Allah unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. 0 my people! Enter the Holy Land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.'”
Sura 7:137 – “We let the oppressed people inherit the land, east and west, and we blessed it. The blessed commands of your Lord were thus fulfilled for the Children of Israel, to reward them for their steadfastness.”
Sura 10:93-94 – ‘We settled the Children of Israel in a beautiful dwelling-place… if thou wort in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee.”
Sura 17:104 – “And we said to the Children of Israel afterwards, ‘Go live into this land. When the final prophecy comes to pass, we will summon you all in one group.'”
Note that last one, which seems to say the Jews must return to Israel for the end of days.
Of course, the rabid anti-Zionists in Muslim communities will not change their minds as a result of these quotations – but they do provide some hope that much of the Muslim-majority world can someday find religious sources to support coexistence with Israel if they want to.
I also wanted to point out that the common phenomenon among Palestinians of denying any historical Jewish connection to the land of Israel is more than in contradiction to all serious historical studies. It flies in the face of the Koran itself, as the verses above attest. Other verses, such as Sura 17:7, seem to refer to the two Jewish temples in Jerusalem – which Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian advocates have denied ever existed.