One of the more incendiary images a pro-Israel blogger found posted on the Facebook page that appeared to be by an UNRWA employee. It showed a stereotypical Jew draining the blood of a child. UNRWA’s spokesman declined to comment to TheBlaze about this or 11 other images forwarded by a U.N. watchdog to the international organization. (Image courtesy: Elder of Ziyon blog)\n
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"I have discovered dozens of examples of jihadist, anti-Semitic and even pro-Hitler posts…"
The author of a pro-Israel blog who has been investigating United Nations’ employee Internet activity said he has found numerous anti-Semitic and jihad-encouraging posts from U.N. school principals and teachers.
In response to the allegations, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Wednesday asserted that three postings it examined were from “imposter” accounts.
“We always investigate credible reports of neutrality violations by our staff and take appropriate action, including disciplinary action where violations by UNRWA staff members are established,” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told TheBlaze in an email, adding that the organization condemns “unreservedly” exhibitions of racism. He declined when asked to forward two of the offensive posts that he described as containing “racists incitement.”
If any of the allegations are true, Gunness told Israel’s Channel 10 earlier this week, “it is indeed a very big problem, and we will deal with it.”
One of the more incendiary images a pro-Israel blogger found posted on a Facebook page that appeared to belong to an UNRWA teacher. It shows a Jew draining the blood of a child, using a stars and stripes fork. UNRWA’s spokesman declined to comment to TheBlaze about this or 11 other images forwarded by a U.N. watchdog to the international organization. (Image courtesy: Elder of Ziyon blog)
The U.S. is by far the largest donor to UNRWA, contributing more than $400 million last year to the organization that has nearly half a million students enrolled in its schools in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. That’s three times the amount given by the European Union and four times the Saudi pledge to the agency, according to UNRWA’s 2014 donor list.
“I have discovered dozens of examples of jihadist, anti-Semitic and even pro-Hitler posts on Facebook by UNRWA employees. And I find more every day,” the author of the Elder of Ziyon blog told TheBlaze.
Since starting his probe in 2012, the blogger has found posts including Jews drinking the blood of Palestinian children, Palestinians running over Jews, Jews portrayed in stereotypically negative ways, anti-Jewish citations from Islamic texts, and incitement to terrorism.
The blogger said that nearly every time he has exposed the virulent posts and alerted the U.N. agency, they have been “silently removed” from the Internet without a public acknowledgement or apology from UNRWA.
Accusing the U.N. agency of exhibiting “reprehensible” behavior, the blogger said some teachers and principals “are not embarrassed in the least about their explicit anti-Semitism.”
“There is no doubt that their attitudes are being given over to their students, many of whom become UNRWA teachers themselves,” he said.
The blogger in 2012 found an elementary school lesson posted online that appeared to glorify jihad “against the Jews and the Crusaders” and the beauty of becoming a “martyr.” He said that after his post, the link was “silently removed.”
He also found that in both 2013 and 2014, UNRWA schools in Gaza apparently claimed to cite an Islamic text to support a clean schools initiative by suggesting it was a way they differentiate themselves from unclean Jews.
As an aside, the blogger pointed out that some of the students were being taught Koran at the U.S.-funded U.N. schools, even though some of the students are Palestinian Christians. The Bible is not taught in American taxpayer-funded U.S. public schools, but at least some students at the Palestinian schools were studying with Koran teachers.
The more incendiary social media posts gained attention last month when the Geneva-based monitoring organization U.N. Watch wrote a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon protesting cartoons found on UNRWA’s Rameh School website glorifying terrorists for running over Jews with their cars. It followed up with another complaint to the U.N. on Tuesday asking the offending staffers be fired.
UNRWA spokesman Gunness said Wednesday that the Rameh School in Syria has been closed since 2012 and that the Facebook page was an “imposter page.”
“There is no evidence that the impostor Facebook page, which uses UNRWA’s name without UNRWA’s permission, or the postings on it, are in any way linked to UNRWA or to UNRWA staff members,” Gunness said. “Nevertheless, we complained to Facebook about the impostor page and the concerned page has been taken down.”
“In the last year, upon UNRWA’s request, Facebook has removed or disabled access to over 90 pages and groups using UNRWA’s name and/or our logo without authorization,” Gunness said, without detailing the content of the pages. “Our position on racism is clear. We condemn racism in all its forms and consider the posts on the impostor Facebook page claiming to represent the UNRWA Rameh School in Syria as unacceptable."
Even as he vowed to get to the root of the problem, however, Gunness also appeared to lash out at U.N. Watch.
Following the protest letter to Ban last week, Gunness asked his Twitter followers to help him research U.N. Watch’s “political & financial affiliations since its establishment.” He also asked for information on another U.N. critic, the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.
Princeton University political science professor Steven Strauss questioned Gunness’ outreach for help targeting the watchdog group. In a series of tweets, Strauss observed, “U.N. is a quasi governmental organization and in most democracies it would be odd/inappropriate for a PR spokesperson to be asking about the funding sources of an NGO that monitors/criticizes it.”
“If you have a suspicion their funding sources re illegal by all means make a referral to the appropriate investigatory agency. But, otherwise by what legal/authority r 4 you asking? Really it seems quite an odd request,” Strauss wrote.
Critics of the U.N. agency argue that unlike that unlike the refugee agency UNHCR, which works to resettle refugees in different countries, UNRWA perpetuates the temporary status of those claiming to be Palestinian refugees. The vast majority of those claiming refugee status are the second-, third- and fourth-generation offspring of those who fled during the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967.
The agency is the second-largest employer — with more than 11,000 people on its payroll — and runs 245 schools in Gaza, according to the Wall Street Journal. The largest employer is the Hamas government.
UNRWA faced criticism around last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas after admitting that it found terrorist weapons caches in three of its schools in Gaza.
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