By Benjamin Kerstein, Algemeiner—
A bill that would mandate an annual review of hate speech, incitement, and antisemitism in educational materials used by the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees was introduced in the United States Senate on Tuesday.
The Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act (S.3209), introduced by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), would require the US Secretary of State to file annual reports on “whether Palestinian curricula encourage racist violence against the Jewish people and whether US foreign aid is supporting such material,” according to a press release from the senator’s office.
It is a companion bill to H.R.2374, introduced in April in the House of Representatives, which “requires the Department of State to report on the curriculum used in schools in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority or located in Gaza and controlled by any other entity.”
The report must determine whether PA educational materials, which are also used in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), promote “violence or intolerance toward other countries or ethnic groups,” according to the House bill. It must also account for how the PA is reforming these materials, and whether they were disseminated with US foreign assistance.
“The Middle East will never experience peace until Palestinians stop teaching their kids to hate Israel, and American dollars should not fund this anti-Jewish propaganda,” Kennedy said of his Senate bill.
“The Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act would give us a closer look at what Palestinian schools are teaching and whether or not American money is supporting antisemitism,” he added.
Marcus Sheff, the CEO of IMPACT-se, an Israeli group that reviews educational materials used by the PA and UNRWA, noted on Wednesday that Washington is the most significant supporter of the UN agency, “having recently restored $318 million in annual aid, 60% of which will go toward education.”
“Clearly, that amount of funding brings with it a great deal of leverage, a duty of care to Palestinian children in UNRWA schools, and a responsibility to demand change to the textbooks UNRWA teaches,” he added. “As we have discussed with the administration, transparency, oversight and accountability to ensure compliance with international standards are paramount.”