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Why UN Schools in Jordan Won’t Teach the Holocaust

Teachers say it ‘harms the Palestinian cause’

Adam Chandler
October 16, 2012
A UNRWA School in 2012(UNRWA)
A UNRWA School in 2012(UNRWA)

There’s a troubling (perhaps unsurprising) story today about the United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools in Jordan, which refuse to include the Holocaust in their curricula. Word–not even decree, but word–that studying the Holocaust might be introduced into UNRWA schools as part of a conflict resolution course prompted this statement from the teachers in Jordan.

“We condemn this decision, which equates the butcher and the victim,” read the teachers’ statement, demanding instead to introduce classes on the Palestinian right of return and the history of the 1948 war with Israel.

This isn’t the first time the issue has come up at UN schools. In 2009, Hamas responded to a similar rumor about plans to introduce the subject of the Holocaust at UNRWA schools in Gaza by denouncing the idea, but adding for effect that “the Holocaust is a lie invented by the Zionists.”

In both instances, the United Nations denied that a change in the curriculum was coming and explained that it defers to the host country on these matters. This is why everyone listens when the United Nations speaks.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.

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