“Talk about the holocaust and the execution of the Jews contradicts and is against our culture, our principles, our traditions, values, heritage and religion,” Jamila al-Shanti, a Hamas legislative official, said in a statement distributed Tuesday after a meeting among elected leaders of the radical Islamist group and the head of the Hamas-run Education Ministry in Gaza.
Hamas Education Minister Muhammad Askol used similar language in criticizing the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, saying it was not respecting Hamas’s “sovereignty” over Gaza. He said he planned to ask for a meeting with agency officials to “assure the necessary coordination.”
His remarks came a day after Hamas spiritual leader Yunis al-Astal said teaching children about the murder of 6 million Jews during World War II would be “marketing a lie.” He characterized the possible introduction of the subject into Gaza schools as a “war crime.”
There is currently no mention of the Holocaust in schools run by UNRWA in Gaza, according to Karen AbuZayd, the agency’s commissioner general.
UNRWA follows the curriculum set by local officials but has been supplementing it with lessons on human rights it developed on its own, according to an agency official. AbuZayd said a program on the details of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being developed for Gaza middle schools. Though still in draft form, the lesson “will go into some history,” she said.
The Universal Declaration was issued by the United Nations in December 1948, in the aftermath of World War II and in recognition of Nazi atrocities.