Summer at United Nations-funded camps in Gaza and the northern West Bank include playing with parachutes, jumping on trampolines, and racing down inflatable slides.
In between those kid-friendly activities, counselors convey belligerent, anti-Semitic lessons to the children who are repeatedly taught to take back “their land” Palestine by means of war, martyrdom and jihad, as seen in a new video.
All this is being sponsored by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) which is funded predominantly by the United States and the European Union, according to a video called “Camp Jihad” released this summer by the Nahum Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research, which documents some of the activities at the camps.
“Peace starts here” is the camps’ motto, according to the video excerpts of which were aired on Israel’s Channel 2 Tuesday night.
The campers are third- or fourth-generation descendants of Arabs who either fled or were forced out of their homes during the 1948 war when Arab armies attacked Israel after it declared independence. None of them has ever visited their ancestral “homes,” yet their schools and camps promote the notion that they will one day violently uproot “the Jews” whom their teachers compare to wolves.
Ahmad Souje, a counselor at the Balata camp near Nablus, told the film crew, “The only alternative to implement the ‘right of return’ is blood for blood, an eye for an eye. In the same way they expelled us, we will expel them.”
Shahed Arja, a girl attending the UNRWA camp in Gaza said, “This summer camp teaches us that we have to liberate Palestine.”
In the video, teachers paint an idyll image of their ancestors frolicking on the beach, sailing in their boats and living in “villas” before 1948.
While they were having fun, a “wolf” suddenly appeared.
“Who is the wolf? The Jews? Isn’t it true that the Jews are the wolf? What did the Jews do to us? They expelled us and deported us. They killed us and shot our families,” one of the adults tells the children.
One camper says, “Weapons will accelerate the right of return.”
Another little girl Tayma says, “I will defeat the Jews…They are a gang of infidels and Christians. They do not like Allah and do not worship Allah. And they hate us.”
Wasim Abu Shaban, another UNRWA camper in Gaza says, “I must return to my land and reconquer it. This is my right.”
A camper at the Balata summer camp sings: “When we die as martyrs we go up to heaven…in Palestine there is no childhood.”
The children explain that their bunks and teams are named after the cities in Israel from which their ancestors allegedly came, including Haifa, Jaffa and Acre which are Israeli cities they believe to be Palestinian. At the camp, they draw maps of Palestine which cover the entire territory of Israel and build kites inscribed with the names of “their villages.”
“We teach the children about the villages that they came from…This way, every child will be motivated to return to their village,” UNRWA camp director Amina Hinawi said.
Camper Mohammed Jamal said, “No to negotiations. Attacking stage-by-stage is not the right way. If we attack them altogether at once that will be the answer.”
The video shows one teacher leading the children in a chant: “Palestine is an Arab land from the river to the sea! We want Haifa. We want Acre. We’re going to Al Aqsa (Jerusalem).”
Campers, teachers and counselors talk about the “right of return,” going back to villages that no longer exist where Israelis live, emphasizing their state of limbo.
Campers in the video are seen chanting, “Praise Jerusalem, It is the best city on earth!” Long live Palestine!”
“We will return to our villages with power and honor. With Allah’s help we will and our own strength we will wage war. And with education and Jihad we will return,” one staffer tells the children gathered around.
“Me and my children are returning to Al Aqsa (Jerusalem) our homeland….I will not forget my promise to take back my land,” sing the campers.
In 2011, the U.S. was the largest single donor to UNRWA contributing more than $239 million. The U.S. and the European Union together provided about 42 per cent of UNRWA’s total income for its core program budget, according to UNRWA's website.
“Since WWII, more than 50 million people have become refugees as the result of a war. UNRWA is the only refugee agency in the world that actively encourages refugees to act upon the ‘right of return,’” the film’s narrator says, asking “Do the donor nations know what values UNRWA is teaching?”
David Bedein, director of the research group that produced the video told TheBlaze, “We think UNRWA should get all the funds they want but it should be conditioned on canceling the curriculum calling for jihad, martyrdom and the ‘right of return.’”
“If UNRWA was funded by Saudi Arabia or Iran we couldn’t do anything about it, but because the U.S. leads the 28 nations supporting UNRWA, we should say ‘Excuse me. This is not appropriate.’”
TheBlaze emailed two UNRWA spokesmen seeking reaction, but received automatically generated out-of-office replies. The Israeli news site Ma'ariv reports that UNRWA is investigating whether UN funds were used for educating the children toward violence at the camps.
Just this week, UNRWA said it would investigate one of its senior officials in Jordan after he posted a photo of Hitler on his Facebook page.
Here is the video of the summer camps: