Claims of incitement and delegitimisation against the settler-colonial state are a matter of regular occurrence. Israel Hayom has reported that a survey by the Near East Policy Research Centre found that Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks contained widespread incitement against Israel. The claim has been contradicted by UNRWA, which asserts the absence of incitement in textbooks utilised in the organisation’s school premises.
According to Israel Hayom, PA textbooks have sought to promote incitement by calling for a “violent struggle”, denying Jewish rights to Israel and labelling the area “Palestine”. An official complaint to UNRWA is also alleged to have been sent, urging the organisation to “correct the deficiencies”. Suggestions include demographic discussions which portray the Jewish majority comprising the settler-colonial state, depicting Jewish villages, eliminating references to “violent struggle” and, perhaps the most ludicrous suggestion of all, “correcting maps to show the current borders”, even as Israel embarks upon further settlement expansion.
Dr Arnon Groiss’ report, entitled “UNRWA’s problematic educational role in the Middle East Conflict” attempts to justify the latest Israeli complaints through a discussion of excerpts which assert Palestinian history. What the report manages to convey is a sense of anger at Palestinian resilience and resistance, to the point that the right of return is depicted as “a decisive event, shrouded in an atmosphere of violence”.
Diminishing the struggle for justice into an attitude based upon alleged impartiality, Groiss seeks to foster sympathy for Zionist tactics of annexation through a provocative discussion of Palestinians’ legitimate right to resistance.
UNRWA has been rigorously criticised from both ends of the spectrum in a matter of weeks. In late February, Hamas criticised the adherence to mainstream narratives and the marginalisation of Palestinian history. On the other hand, Israeli media is seeking to portray the organisation as conceding to Palestinian demands by allowing the dissemination of Palestinian narratives through education, as opposed to enforcing the Zionist hegemonic narrative upon younger generations of Palestinians.
In its report, Israel National News suggested that donations to the organisation should be based upon four conditions: discouraging “war”, “an end to support for designated foreign terrorist entities such as Hamas”, terminating promotion of the Palestinian right of return and an amendment that would eliminate refugee status for descendants of the 1948 Palestinian refugees.
Israeli incitement against Palestinian unity is now directed against the marginalisation of Hamas through a pathetic endeavour aimed at separating the resistance organisation from Palestinian collective resistance – a feat unlikely to succeed considering the recent rally during which resistance was articulated in cohesion with Palestinian aspirations for land and memory.
While UNRWA is possibly the closest official entity to Palestinian refugees, the issue of dependency upon imperialism for financial aid does not leave the organisation with the required freedom to advocate for Palestinian rights. The organisation’s public discourse and language indicates its lack of autonomy which is in turn reflected in maintenance of human rights violations – a trait reminiscent of discourse pertaining to the fabrication of rights as opposed to liberation.
Groiss also notes the implications of the proper application of the Palestinian right of return, deeming it equivalent to “the destruction of the state of Israel as a Jewish state” and having serious repercussions about the alleged validity garnered as a result of the UN’s acceptance of the Zionist colonisation of Palestine.
Israel and its settler population should come to terms with the realisation that incitement against Palestinians manifested itself prior to 1948 and materialised permanently through international complicity in awarding recognition to colonial illegality.
Any effort to combat the Zionist institutionalised incitement constitutes legitimate resistance. Given the acknowledged repercussions to the detriment of Israel, it is perhaps time to cease mellowing settler-colonialism into a detached “occupation” and unite in calling explicitly for the dismantling of Israel’s settler-colonial state as freedom for all Palestinians.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.