The Rising Cost of Indoctrination

The Rising Cost of Indoctrination

Palestine’s Western-funded education system fuels anti-semitic violence.


Education plays a vital role in shaping the societies of the future, for better or worse. Optimistically, a UNESCO publication, Addressing Hate Speech Through Education, A Guide For Policy-Makers, frames education as a critical element in “building systemic resilience to hateful discourse.” Sadly, we are seeing with absolute clarity that in Gaza, education has been manipulated for precisely the opposite purpose—teaching a generation to hate with deadly and horrific consequences. 

On October 7, graduates of Gaza’s education system perpetrated the most unspeakable crimes against thousands of Israeli civilians. Tragically, the seeds of the massacre were sown a long time ago. Our organization, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), has been watching these seeds germinate for decades, conducting extensive research into the curricula taught in Gaza’s schools and sharing the results with policymakers. 


What we have consistently uncovered is Palestinian textbooks replete with hatred towards Jews, incitement to violence, and the glorification of terror and martyrdom. The roots of the unprecedented assault on Israelis are not hard to find. Eighth-grade reading comprehension is taught through a story promoting suicide bombings in which Palestinians “cut the necks of the enemy.” Another textbook is titled “From Stone to Missile” and lauds the use of rockets against Israel. Meanwhile, a fifth-grade study card teaches that it is a duty to commit jihad and become a martyr for the sake of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. These are just a handful of some of the dozens of examples found in Palestinian textbooks across all grades and subjects ranging from humanities to math and science. The correlation between these teaching materials and the horror of the Hamas attack is unmistakable. 

Moreover, the uncomfortable truth is that the international community, including policymakers in Washington, has unwittingly contributed to this state of affairs. The Palestinian Authority (PA) receives hundreds of millions of Euros in aid from European governments and the European Union itself. The PA’s hate-filled textbooks, incorporating some of the examples mentioned, are taught throughout the Gazan school system, including schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). 

Meanwhile, since 1994, the United States has funneled billions of dollars in humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territories. Among the biggest beneficiaries of this largesse is UNRWA, which operates schools serving more than half of Gaza’s students. The United States is UNRWA’s largest donor, contributing over one billion dollars to its education program in the last five years alone. Not only do these U.S. taxpayer dollars pay the salaries of teachers in UNRWA schools who peddle the hatred of the PA curriculum, but they also fund the production of highly problematic additional teaching materials stamped with the UNRWA logo. These include a ninth-grade reading comprehension, which contains a story glorifying the bombing of a Jewish bus near the West Bank city of Ramallah as a “barbeque party.” The consequences of this hateful material are clear. The Hamas website lists at least one hundred UNRWA graduates as members of its military wing, including the murderers of British-Israeli Lucy Dee and her two daughters, 16-year-old Rina and 20-year-old Maia, who were shot at point-blank range earlier this year. 

This type of incitement has been highlighted time and time again in our reports on UNRWA, the latest of which was presented in Congress in 2023 and identified forty-seven new cases of incitement by UNRWA staff, in breach of the agency’s stated policies of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, or antisemitism in its schools and educational materials. 

In light of the atrocities of October 7, Washington can no longer afford to write UNRWA a blank check. The human cost has become unbearable. Given Washington’s unequivocal support for Israel as it combats Hamas, it would also be untenable. Last week, the European Union quite rightly announced a freeze on Palestinian aid pending a comprehensive review. Washington must now follow suit and employ this same model by withholding its funding of UNRWA until due diligence has been completed. Anything less than demanding full accountability will mean sleepwalking toward the radicalization of another generation of young Palestinians to wage war against Israel and the West.   

Marcus Sheff is the CEO of The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se). He held positions as a political reporter at The Nation as well as an editor at The Jerusalem Post. He also previously held positions at Dow Jones International, Advanstar Inc., and The Israel Project. He has briefed world leaders, spoken at the United Nations and parliaments, and appears regularly in media.

Image: Shutterstock.