News Column

U.N. Agency Denies Anti-semitism

August 22, 2013

A United Nations relief agency rejected allegations of anti-semitism and incitement to violence Thursday after an Israeli documentary claimed Palestinian children were indoctrinated with anti-Israel rhetoric in UN-run summer camps.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said its summer camps were committed to teaching tolerance and respect for human rights, and the footage in the film entitled Camp Jihad showing incitement were not shot in camps organized by the agency.

"The filmmaker concerned has a history of making baseless claims about UNRWA, all of which we have investigated and demonstrated to be patently false," the agency said in a statement. "The 'summer camp' shown in the West Bank was not affiliated with or organized by UNRWA."

The agency said the documentary featured footage from one of its camps in Gaza, however, there were no inflammatory comments in those scenes.

The television crew, which was hired by the Nahum Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research, claimed to have shot the footage at UNRWA facilities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

In one scene of the documentary, which is available online, a woman dressed in a black burka and a white baseball hat asks Palestinian children to name their hometowns and then goes on to teach them about history.

"In 1948, we were expelled from our homes where our ancestors lived an honourable life, and then came the occupation and they were expelled from their homes," the woman said. "We will return to our villages with power and honor. With God's help and our own strength we will wage war."

The film, which is mainly in Arabic with English and Hebrew subtitles, shows Palestinian children playing at the camps and often includes scenes of them chanting the names of their hometowns, such as Jaffa and Haifa, which now belong to Israel.

UNRWA, a UN agency established in 1949 to provide aid to some 5 million registered Palestinian refugees, has often been criticised for being pro-Palestine by Israeli commentators.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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