Towards late August 2009, it was rumored in Gaza that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was planning to include, in the eighth-grade curriculum of the schools that it runs in Gaza, a section on the Holocaust and the Jewish people in the WWII era as part of its human rights studies. Numerous responses to this appeared in the media, mostly in the Gaza Strip, including an article by former mayor of Khan Yunis, Palestinian publicist and political commentator Fayez Abu Shamala, which he published in the pro-Hamas Gaza daily Falastin. Abu Shamala warned UNRWA to refrain from attempting to indoctrinate the Palestinian public, vehemently opposed mandating Holocaust studies in Gaza schools, and, relying on opinions of Holocaust deniers, questioned the historical authenticity of the Holocaust. He further argued that the Israelis, whom he dubs 'the Nazis of the 21st century,' are perpetrating a holocaust against the Palestinian people on a daily basis, and insisted that it is this holocaust that must be incorporated into the UNRWA curricula.
Following are excerpts from Abu Shamala's article:
By Setting Forth Ideological Demands in Return for Its Services, UNRWA Will Destroy Its Relations with the Palestinians
"The December 8, 1949 [United Nations] General Assembly Resolution No. 302, which gave rise to UNRWA, defined the purpose of that temporary organization as follows: '(a) To carry out in collaboration with local governments the direct relief and works programmes…; and (b) To consult with the… Near Eastern Governments concerning measures to be taken by them preparatory to the time when international assistance for relief and works projects is no longer available.'
"We, the Palestinians, will be in need of 'relief and works programmes' as long as the conditions obtain which turned us into refugees [in the first place]. Indeed, we insist on taking advantage of the U.S. services until the refugees return [to their homeland] and a just solution is found for the political problem. From its inception until the present time, the UN has undertaken to offer its services to the Palestinian refugees in a way that would not insult their national sensibilities, religious beliefs, social customs, and culture; and [for that,] it commands the trust and respect of refugees, both in their homeland and in the diaspora. However, the minute UNRWA deviates from the goal for the sake of which it was established and presumes to take on a political mission, set forth ideological demands in return for its services, or seek to make a cultural impact by mandating the study of the Holocaust to which the Jews were subjected, the relationship that now exists between it and the Palestinian refugees will be disrupted. In spite of the assurances of UNRWA's commissioner Ms. Karen Abu Zayed that their curricula do not even mention the Holocaust – which is praiseworthy – a preliminary version of the curriculum is being prepared to be presented for endorsement to [various] groups of the [Palestinian] population."
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There Is No Universal Consensus regarding the Historical Authenticity of the Holocaust
"Those in charge [of the UNRWA curriculum] must realize that rubbing salt in the Palestinians' wounds might be dangerous, for several reasons. First, there is no universal consensus regarding the historical authenticity of the Holocaust. [Some] doubt that the Jewish version of [the Holocaust] is historically untrue. Millions of Europeans concur with the French philosopher Roget Garaudy, who on page 107 of his book The Founding Myths of Modern Israel quotes Dr. [Arieh] Kubobi, who in 1960 headed a documentation center in Tel Aviv, as saying: 'There is no document signed by Hitler, Himmler, or Heidrich that mentions the annihilation of the Jews, nor does the expression 'annihilation' appear in Goering's letter regarding the final solution of the Jewish problem.' On page 119 of his book, [Garaudy] cites an American lawyer who was sent to Dachau after it had been transformed into a U.S. camp and a center for war crimes trials: 'After the war, I stayed at Dachau for 17 months as a U.S. military judge, and I can testify: 'There were no gas chambers there, and what is misrepresented to the visitors as gas chambers are [actually compartments] for burning dead bodies. There were no gas chambers in Germany at all, and I can guarantee that they [the Zionists] are using this old myth to aver that millions of Jews were murdered [in the WWII era]. [Now,] after six years have elapsed, I contend that, [even] if many Jews were [indeed] killed [during that time], their number is definitely under one million, and I believe that I am more competent than others to assert this. '"
We Must Introduce Special Classes about the Nazis of the 21st Century – The Israeli Jews
"Second, even if all the world governments conceded that the Holocaust happened according to the Jewish version, it would never convince a Palestinian – because he knows that the world has acknowledged the injustice done to [the Palestinian people] yet disregards the holocaust being perpetrated against it on a daily basis This [holocaust] is eating away at the Palestinians' flesh with roadblocks, and is breaking its bones with the blockade – while the entire world looks on in silence, [as if] it had swallowed its tongue. And if Mr. John Ging, UNRWA operations director in Gaza, asked any group of Palestinian students, 'What is a Jew? ' – the answer would be given promptly: 'A Jew is death, wounds, torture of prisoners, destruction of homes, devastation, perdition, deception, siege, and oppression. ' Can someone being tortured be expected to shed tears over his torturer? Can a victim be expected to wipe the blood off the executioner's knife?…
"It is not enough for us Palestinians to refuse to teach our children about the Holocaust. We must introduce special classes about the Nazis of the 21st century – the Israeli Jews, [those] criminals [and] terrorists [who] continue to perpetrate a holocaust against us. We are not lying about the reality of our life: we believe that we are experiencing a catastrophe, in which Europe has played a part in order to save the Jews. How can we shed tears over someone who tramples our happiness, stabs our body, plunders our home, drinks our water, and deprives us of the very air [we breathe]? How can we believe that the Jewish oppressor was once the oppressed, or that someone once [tried] to exterminate [him]? How could the murdered become the murderer, unless his blood is seething with superstitions and iniquitous theories and ideas – of which you, Mr. John Ging, should be wary! I hope that you will not become one of the foreigners of whom it is said in Chapter 61 of the Book of Isaiah [Verses 5 and 6]: 'Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.'"