Monday, October 05, 2009

UNRWA now says it will teach Holocaust to Gazans

Last month, rumors that UNRWA was planning to teach about the Holocaust in its schools in Gaza was met with strenuous denials by UNRWA chief John Ging. He was quoted in a Palestinian Arab newspaper as saying that "it is not acceptable that Palestinians student are taught the about the Holocaust at a time when Israel is writing off everything related to Palestine in the school curriculum for Palestinian students in Israel" and that "there is no intention to integrate materials and topics that are inconsistent with the desire of Palestinian society."

Today, John Ging is saying something quite different:

The United Nations' refugee agency is planning to include the Holocaust in a new human-rights curriculum for pupils in its Gaza secondary schools despite strident opposition to the idea from within Hamas.

John Ging, the UN Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA) director of operations in Gaza, told The Independent that he was "confident and determined" that the Holocaust would feature for the first time in a wide-ranging curriculum that is being drafted.

Mr Ging, a passionate advocate for Palestinian civilians in Gaza who has recently faced increasingly personal criticism and even threats by elements in the Islamic faction, added: "No human-rights curriculum is complete without the inclusion of the facts of the Holocaust, and its lessons."

The draft, to be completed within weeks and then put out for consultation with parents and the public, is built on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was agreed by the UN General Assembly in 1948 in the shadow of what it called the "barbarous acts" committed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

What could explain this turnabout? Perhaps it is this:
[Ging] pointed out that the UN General Assembly in 2005 unanimously urged "all countries to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to children so that we learn from history, so that we don't repeat history".
I guess that it would look pretty bad if the UNRWA would blatantly speak out against something the UN supports.

The question is...has anyone seen Ging's comments to Palestine Today? Clearly the reporters at the Independent didn't...

UPDATE: UNRWA's Chris Gunness emailed me that the Palestine Today quote is "totally wrong."