BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (BADIL) commends UNRWA for rejecting IMPACT-se’s false allegations that the Agency “knowingly utilizes educational materials outside of UN values.” It is noteworthy that UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General, Leni Stenseth, stated that IMPACT-se, an Israeli watchdog with strong connections to the Israeli government, is already well known for its sensationalized reports. This has been supported by the Georg Eckart Institute’s study conducted on behalf of the European Commission, which found that IMPACT-se’s reports are “marked by generalizing and exaggerated conclusions based on methodological shortcomings.”
As previously covered by BADIL, IMPACT-se functions as part of the Israeli colonial strategy to subvert Palestinian education; its biased studies aim to coerce the international donor community into pressuring the Palestinian Authority, as well as UNRWA, to alter the curriculum taught to Palestinian students. These reports on Palestinian textbooks are rife with equating content discussing the Palestinian people’s collective national identity, heritage, and values with inciting racial hatred and violence. This, in turn, is used as ‘evidence’ that the Palestinian educational material violates UNESCO standards, and convinces donors to condition their funding on curriculum changes and to cut funding in the case that such conditions are unmet. This introduces a difficult dilemma for the Palestinian education system where actors must choose between either de-nationalization or financial debilitation.
Altogether, IMPACT-se serves to advance Israel’s overall campaign against the Palestinian right to education. Such policies and practices primarily aim to weaken Palestinian education and exclude the Palestinian narrative from educational materials in order to limit political awareness and consciousness – the ultimate goal of which is undermining the Palestinian people’s national collective identity, pursuance of economic, social, and cultural development and the ability to determine their political status within Mandatory Palestine.
Israel’s attack on the Palestinian people’s right to education is thus a form of practicing and perpetuating colonization. Israel additionally employs tools of segregation, alienation, and forced assimilation, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination of the Jewish-Israeli population over the Palestinian people, constituting apartheid.
To counter the Israeli apartheid-colonial attack on Palestinian education, the international community must adamantly oppose IMPACT-se’s false allegations concerning the Palestinian educational system, similar to UNRWA. It must additionally work to promote human rights-based educational content that considers the UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence, and non-violence within a colonial- apartheid context. While these principles are mainstays of respect for human rights, they can only produce meaning in a decolonized society where the peoples have been able to realize their “inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory.” In a context of colonial domination - that of Israel’s over the Palestinian people - promoting such principles without critical underpinnings actually reinforces the unjust imbalance of colonial power by normalizing the colonial setting and discrediting the oppressed people’s struggle for liberation.
The international community must therefore:
- Acknowledge that the implementation of a human rights-based education in Palestine should take into account the structure of power in which it is inserted and work as a tool to spur decolonization.
- Stop conditioning humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, UNRWA, PA, and civil society organizations based on Zionist-Israeli allegations whereby securitization of the Palestine context based on Israeli criteria is a form of complicity that derails the fulfillment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
Explore and refute the discriminatory and racial components of the Zionist-Israeli educational curriculum and regime as a whole.