Hamas rips U.N. for teaching the Holocaust in Gaza schools
JERUSALEM — Hamas condemned the United Nations for switching to a new textbook for Gaza schoolchildren that includes a chapter on the Holocaust.
In an open letter sent Sunday to the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which runs schools for 200,000 Gazan children, Hamas called the systematic murder of Jews during the Holocaust “a lie invented by the Zionists” and said it would “refuse to let our children study” it.
The curriculum changes would affect eighth-graders.
A UNRWA spokesman told Reuters that the Holocaust was not part of the current curriculum. He would not comment on any possible changes.
On Monday, Hamas religious leader Younis al-Astal called the teaching of the Holocaust to Palestinian children a “war crime” and the “marketing a lie and spreading it,” the Associated Press reported.
The Hamas condemnation comes at about the same time that Israeli Arab leaders threatened to “revolt” after Israel’s education chief said the word Nakba would be removed from their classrooms. There was no indication at all that the two Arab responses were related.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar made his announcement Sunday as part of a briefing on the start of the 2009-10 school year.
Nakba, which means catastrophe in Arabic, is used in the Arab community to describe the birth of the State of Israel.
School began Tuesday throughout Israel.
“[T]he word Nakba, whose meaning is similar to Holocaust in this context, will no longer be used,” Sa’ar said. “The creation of the State of Israel cannot be referred to as a tragedy, and the education system in the Arab sector will revise its studies in elementary schools.”
A textbook teaching the Nakba in third-grade Arab classes was introduced two years ago by then-Education Minister Yuli Tamir of the Labor Party.
The Follow-Up Committee on Higher Education, which represents the Arab public on education issues in Israel, at a news conference Monday in Nazareth said it rejected the decision and would refuse to implement it in Arab schools.