Profile in Courage: US Senator Who Forced State Dept Transparency

One of the most extensive areas of our journalistic research since this agency opened in 1987 has involved our news investigations of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and the education that UNRWA provides, using school books and teachers provided by the PA, beholden to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a terrorist organization.

We commission Arab and Jewish experts to translate and examine all PA school books used by UNRWA since the new PA curriculum launched on August 1, 2000.

We engage TV crews to film UNRWA schools

The idea of a new curriculum generated by the nascent Palestinian Authority was seen as the panacea of the peace process.

We have continued to provide reports of this new PA curriculum to Congress ever since.

We have witnessed a deterioration of the PA curriculum into war indoctrination and the use of UNRWA facilities for terrorism and terror education.

Three years ago, we brought our investigations to the attention of Senator James Risch, then chairman of the US Senate Near East subcommittee.

Today, Senator Risch chairs the entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee

That meeting with Senator Risch, produced results: Senator Risch ordered an official GAO study of PA/UNRWA education.

The GAO findings, finally released after the State Department stopped their report for almost a a full year, confirm that the PA provides UNRWA with a full scale war curriculum for 315,000 UNRWA students… making the possibility of any kind of peace process seem utterly absurd.

Senator James Risch got the verification that he needed to substantiate the findings of CFNEPR.

Thanks to Senator Risch’s intiative and the GAO disclosure of its study of PA/UNRWA education, theUS Congress can gain now have a better understanding of where the problem lies.

The GAO report concluded that the e State Department falsely reported to Congress that it had developed alternative materials to the anti-Semitic and pro-incitement PA school curriculum used by UNRWA.

In the GAO report, State could not explain why such materials have never been seen in the UNRWA classroom.

The GAO report asserts that the PA curriculum used by UNRWA led to participation in riots…And that State neither reviewed nor vetted any PA books used in the UNRWA curriculum.

GAO reports that State relied solely on the assurances of representatives of the PA Ministry of Education, who wrote the school books.

How can UNRWA justify the glorification of murderers in the school books?

State tells GAO that such “problematic” pages appear only 3% of the books, which UNRWA acknowledges.

Why did US AID, which covered 30% of UNRWA’s budget until recently, never demand the removal of such books? No explanation offered.

Senator James Risch (R-Idaho), chair of the US Senate Near East Subcommittee, who initiated the GAO study, is to be commended.

He has no real Jewish constituency to speak of.

Senator Risch met me for one reason: because of his fundamental integrity.

When I showed the Senator chapter and verse of the curriculum, he shook his head and simply said that such incitement to violence has no place in a school system financed in part by the US – let alone by the UN.

Senator Risch asked for “independent verification” of the research that our agency provided Congress with over the years, ever since we began to acquire the new school books of the PA and he got it.

The idea behind the PA issuing its own texts for use in UNRWA schools was that this would be a sign of a responsible, independent Palestinian Arab state in formation.

However, the theme of the new PA school books evolved into the “right of return [to take back all of Palestine] by force of arms” including what is now Israel.

When Senator Risch received the GAO report last April, which provided independent verification that the PA provided war curriculum for UNRWA, the State Department issued a gag order, not to release the report.

Senator Risch had the courage to speak up, telling colleagues that was he was shocked that State would classify the report, in order to stop the Congress from even reviewing it.

Thanks to the initiative and integrity of Senator James Risch, UNRWA “education” will now sees the light of day.


About the Author
David Bedein, who grew up in Philadelphia and moved to Israel in 1970 at the age of 20, is an MSW community organizer by profession and an expereinced investigative journalist. In 1987 he established the Israel Resource News Agency, with offices at the Beit Agron Int’l Press Center in Jerusalem, where he also serves as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research. In 1991, Bedein was the special CNN middle east radio correspondent. Since 2001, Bedein has contributed features to the newspaper Makor Rishon. In 2006, Bedein became the foreign correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. He is the author of " The Genesis of the Palestinian Authority" and "ROADBLOCK TO PEACE- How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA policies reconsidered"and the director and producer of the numerous short films about UNRWA policy which can be located at: