Hamas slams UN over Holocaust classes in Gaza

Hamas slams UN over Holocaust classes in Gaza

By | 2009-08-30T16:11:00+00:00 August 30th, 2009|News|0 Comments

Hamas condemned the United Nations on Sunday for what it said was a plan to teach Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip about the Holocaust in its history books as Israel's prime minister slammed three Jewish religious schools for refusing to admit Ethiopian Jews.

In an open letter to a senior U.N. official, the Islamist movement called on the agency to withdraw plans for history books in U.N. schools as it was an obvious bone of contention to teach Palestinian children about an event that lead to the creation of the state of Israel.

A spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which educates some 200,000 refugee children in Gaza, said the Holocaust was not on its current curriculum but would not comment on Hamas’s statement that it was about to change.

Hamas said it believed UNRWA was about to start using a text for 13-year-olds that included a chapter on the Holocaust.

"We refuse to let our children study a lie invented by the Zionists," Hamas’ Popular Committees for Refugees said in its letter to local UNRWA chief John Ging.

UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said: "There is no mention of the Holocaust in the current syllabus." Asked if UNRWA planned to change that, he declined to comment.

Hamas’s official spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, said he did not want to discuss the history of the Holocaust but said:

"Regardless of the controversy, we oppose forcing the issue of the so-called Holocaust onto the syllabus, because it aims to reinforce acceptance of the occupation of Palestinian land."

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, run by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, teachers said there was no official guidance on teaching about the Holocaust.

Arabs resent the way world powers reacted to the Holocaust by supporting the establishment of Israel in 1948, a move that took land from the Palestinians and left more than half of them refugees.

Israeli schools

Meanwhile Israeli schools also made headlines on Sunday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed three Jewish religious schools for what he termed their immoral refusal to admit 100 Ethiopian Jewish students.

Spokesmen for Israel’s 100,000-strong Ethiopian community described the schools’ decision as discriminatory. Black Jews have long complained of prejudice in Israel.

The private ultra-Orthodox institutions, which also receive money from the government, denied the ban was racially motivated, saying the children required special funding and classes to raise their academic standards.

But Netanyahu called the ban "intolerable."

"Rejecting Ethiopian students is simply an attack on our morals, contradicting our ethos as a country, as a society, as Jews and as Israelis," Netanyahu said in an interview conducted jointly by Israel Radio and Army Radio.

"A school that continues along this line will suffer the consequences," he said. "I have told (the education minister) to act as forcefully as possible."

President Shimon Peres said last week the schools’ policy was a "disgrace" no Israeli could accept. Most Ethiopian Jewish children attend state schools, many of them religious institutions.

Israel’s chief rabbis determined formally in 1973 that Ethiopian Jews were descendants of the Jewish biblical tribe of Dan and were entitled to immigrate to Israel. Tens of thousands arrived in airlifts in the 1980s and 1990s