Israel Resource Review 25th October, 2002


UNICEF: Why is this Halloween Different from Any Other Halloween?
David Bedein

UNICEF: Why is this Halloween Different from Any Other Halloween:
This year, UNICEF treats you with a new trick against Israel.

We all remember UNICEF. That is the agency that provides little boxes for collection on Halloween in order that children around the world should not starve. UNICEF, to its credit, had kept its distance from the middle east conflict, unlike other agencies of the UN.

This year, UNICEF treats us with a new trick this Halloween.

Towards this year's Halloween collections, Pierre Poupard, the UNICEF Special Representative to the Palestinian Authority, issued a scathing memo in which he accused Israel of preventing 226,000 Palestinian Arab children from going to school.The original release can be found on the UNICEF web site at:

Reached at the UNICEF office in Jerusalem, Mr. Poupard claimed not to know that PA schools are being used as a place of terror training or incitement of youth to war against Israel.

When I spoke with Mr. Poupard, he seemed to have no idea that current curfews are the direct result of continued Palestinian Authority sponsored terrorism, much of which takes place in the PA schools. Mr. Poupard of UNICEF claimed not to know of the study published on August 26th conducted by Israel's leading newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, which showed that military training had become an integral part of Palestinian Authority educational system, and that children learn the art of weaponry training in the PA schools and school yards.

Mr. Poupard of UNICEF claimed not to have ever read the widely circulated piece from the front page of the New York Times on August 3, 2000 in which the New York Times correspondent John Burns reported how the PA education ministry had recruited 25,000 children from ages 9 and 10 to train them in their school yards in the art of military confrontation with Israeli soldiers and civilians, In Burns detailed report, he noted how children learned the art of throwing molotov cocktails at passing Israeli vehicles. Mr. Poupard of UNICEF claimed not to know that the PAšs deputy minister of education, Naim Abu Humus, called on school administrators to dedicate the first class to praying for the souls of the suicide bombers killed during the uprising, saying, "Today we glorify Al-Aksa and Palestine, and remember the Palestinian martyrs"

Mr. Poupard of UNICEF claimed not to know that Signs on the walls of the PA kindergartens proclaim their students as the 'shaheeds' [martyrs] of tomorrow.

Mr. Poupard of UNICEF claimed not to have ever seen the curriculum of the Palestinian Authority school system which is available for public scrutiny at

Pierre Poupard of UNICEF does have a trick to treat Israel with, and that is what he calls "Israelšs obligation, according to the 4th Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to ensure education is accessible to every Palestinian child".

What Mr. Poupard of UNICEF claimed not to know, however, is the extent to which the Rights of the Child are routinely violated by Yasser Arafatšs Palestinian Authority. All Mr. Poupard of UNICEF would have to do is to turn on PA educational TV, whose theme since its inception in 1994 has invoked the violation of the UN "rights of the child" by mandating children to become suicide bombers, by placing children in the front-lines of armed demonstrations against Israeli soldiers, and by delivering busloads of Palestinian school children to participate in riots everywhere, thus endangering the lives of the same children that are supposed to be defended and protected by the Palestinian Authority. Through its curriculum of war denies Palestinian children the fundamental right to peaceful, modern education.

The trick that UNICEF treats Israel with is that it ignores the significant steps taken by Israel to establish a modern educational system for Palestinians Arabs after the Israel Civil Administration took over in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 1967, even in the absence of peace.

UNICEF could conduct its own trick or treat and ask any graduate of the Palestinian Authority educational system:

"What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine"?

The Jerusalem Post, September 9, 2002
UNICEF Goodwill Envoy: Bush is modern-day Hitler
by Michael Freund

Dourade Lahham, a Syrian actor who serves as an honorary ambassador of the United Nations Childrenšs Fund (UNICEF), lashed out at US President George W. Bush on Friday, describing him as a ŗmodern-day Hitler˛, the Beirut Daily Star reported yesterday.

Lahhm, who toured Beaufort Castle and visited the Lebanese-Israel border at the invitation of Hezbollah, said that he was proud of his association with the terrorist group. Speaking with reporters, he expressed the hope that Bush, the modern-day Hitler, puts me on his black list. Lahham was re-appointed in February to serve as a UNICEF goodwill envoy through May, 2003.

USA National Office
United States Fund for UNICEF

Mail Address
Charles Lyons President
333 East 38th Street - GC-6
New York, New York 10016

Telephone: 1 (212) 686.5522

Fax: 1 (212) 779.1679


UNICEF International Office
Mail Address
Executive Director Carol Bellamy
3 United Nations Plaza
New York, New York 10017

Telephone: 1 (212) 326.7000 - Switchboard UNICEF House

1 (212) 887.7465 - Primary
1 (212) 887.7454 - Secondary


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Frightened and Deprived Palestinian Children
Peter Hansen
Commisioner General of UNRWA

Imagine the political fallout if every schoolchild in London had missed a month's schooling last year because teachers could not get to classes. Think of the parental anguish and outrage if the Paris school system saw its pass rates in French language exams fall from 71 to 38 percent in a year. Now picture your own child traumatized by fear, because every day her journey to school meant a trip past tanks, checkpoints and soldiers. This nightmare is the reality facing Palestinian parents, teachers and around a million pupils - the school population of a major European capital - in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after two years of the intifada.

The main causes of this educational crisis are the curfews and closures imposed by the Israeli authorities in their attempt to deal with Palestinian militants. These have crippled the education program of the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations. The UN Relief and Works Agency runs 264 schools for almost 250,000 pupils in the West Bank and Gaza.

Last year it lost an average of 29 working school days per school because staff or pupils could not get to their classes. Last year, in total, 72,000 teacher workdays were lost. Exams could be given only when curfews were lifted, and summer schools, designed to create a secure environment for children, were barely attended. Things this year seem, if anything, to be getting worse. Since school started on August 31, 36 UN schools in the West Bank have been closed for from two to 15 days. Access to schools in Nablus has been so bad that some teachers have been hired based only on telephone interviews and will meet their supervisors only when they can get to work. But closed schools are only one part of the story.

Military operations, largely by Israel but in some instances by Palestinian factions, have violated the sanctity of schools across the occupied territory. Scores of schools have been used as detention centers, almost 200 have been damaged by gunfire and more than 170 students have been arrested. According to an Amnesty International report, 250 Palestinian schoolchildren have been killed since September 2000. It is not uncommon for children to be searched and abused by Israeli troops on their way to and from school or to be subject to tear gas and warning shots near checkpoints. This terrifying environment has had a devastating effect on Palestinian children. Exam pass rates in Arabic and math have collapsed, while dropout rates are starting to rise for the first time in a decade. Pupil assaults on teachers, unthinkable in the past, have begun to make an appearance. Teachers are increasingly reporting signs of psychological trauma.

UNRWA has employed counselors to encourage children to share their experiences and has boosted its remedial and summer school programs, as well as extended its school year, in an effort to mitigate the worst effects of the conflict. But it is becoming ever more apparent that Palestinian children will be paying twice over for the crisis in the West Bank and Gaza. Already they have paid with the loss of their security, innocence and education. But they will also pay with their futures. They will pay with the loss of opportunity, development and hope that a sound education brings. This is a tragedy for the Palestinian people, who, with so many disadvantages to cope with, have traditionally put great stock in education. Palestinian literacy rates were among the highest in the region. Palestinian girls were the first in the Arab world to achieve educational parity with boys. All of which meant that Palestinian-educated engineers helped build the Gulf region and Palestinian-educated doctors have benefited communities from California to Cairo.

It is imperative that the Israeli authorities begin to lift their curfews and closures on population centers now, before more damage is done to children. Israel has security concerns - and Amnesty reports that 72 of its children have been killed since the start of the intifada - but I cannot believe that those security concerns are being served by depriving a generation of Palestinians of their right to a future.

This article ran in International Herald Tribune on October 9, 2002

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Tayoush: Fabricating a Story About Palestinian Children Who Cannot Go to School
And Who is Behind Tayoush?:
the Senior Pundak & Senior Melchior

David Bedein

(Excerpted from an article in the weekly, Makor Rishon, published on October 25, 2002.)

Following Israel's "Defensive Shield" operation against PLO strongholds that followed the Passover seder massacre in Netanya last April, Herbert Pundak, former chief editor of the Danish daily newspaper Politiken, and now a columnist for that paper, decided to "do something to activate readers in support of Palestinian Civil Society After Jenin", in the words of Pundak.

Herbert Pundak, father of Ron Pundak, head of the Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv, said that he launched the appeal to the Danish public to "to ask readers for money for two purposes . . . to support the purchase of a new ambulance for the Palestinian Red Crescent (whose honorary president is Fatchi Arafat, the brother of Yassir), and support an organization known as Tayoush (Arabic for "cooperation") which is supplying equipment and support for Palestinian communities.

Herbert's son Ron Pundak offered to use the good offices of the Peres Center to facilitate these contributions for Palestinian communities. "Not that this is a Peres Center project", said the younger Pundak, "since we are only the facilitators of such a worthy effort", he added.

The former director of the Peres Center, Carmi Gillon, appointed by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres as the ambassador to Denmark, raised no objections to efforts to raise funds for Palestinian Arabs that would be facilitated by the same Peres Center.

To establish further credibility for the campaign, Hebert Pundak enlisted the support of the former chief Rabbi of Denmark, Rabbi Bent Melchior, who is the father of the current Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior. After the senior Rabbi Melchior said that his involvement for Tayoush was his own initiative, he was satisfied that his son lent support for his father's "humanitarian" initiative.

Yet Tayoush is not quite a "humanitarian" initiative. In Jerusalem, Tayoush shares offices with the Alternative Information Center, 6 Shlomtizon HaMalka Street in Jerusalem, acts as the hub of radical left activity in Israel. Tayoush's own website, located at is clear about its purpose: to help the Palestinians in their struggle, and to expel the Jews from areas taken by Israel in 1967.

Tayoush in action: Claiming that Israeli "settlers" prevent Palestinian children from going to school.

This week, Tayoush issued a leaflet in Arabic, Hebrew and English in which it claimed that Israelis who live in Jewish communities in the Southern Hebron region were preventing Palestinian Arab children from nearby Arab villages from going to school for many months. For that reason, Tayoush announced that it had raised funds to organized a massive convoy to accompany Arab children to school. On the answering machine of Tayoush, in English, Arabic and Hebrew, at 03-6914437, you hear a recorded message to join their convoy on Saturday, October 26th, "which is occuring because of the Israeli settler harrassment of Palestinian children"

Tayoush provided what it had hoped would be credible eyewitness testimony from Arab villagers from the villages of Tuba and Lakia that would attest to their allegation that Israelis were preventing them from going to school.

Their story was different - that the Israeli army, in coordination with Jewish communities in the area, had paved a new footpath for children to go to school which would circumvent the roads and the Jewish communities that are in the area.

565 shooting attacks against Jews had occurred over the past two years in the South Hebron region, which had resulted in the deaths of eight Jewish civilians.

Mahmud Hamamdeh, from the Arab village of Tuba, said that the school children had nothing to do with these armed attacks and that "they would 'only' throw stones. After all, they are children, are they not", he claimed.

Mahmud made it clear that their schools were indeed open, that most of the children were going to school, but that they resented the extra 45 minutes that his children had to walk to school.

Another Palestinian Arab villager referred by Tayoush, Anwar Al Hajuj, from the Arab village of Lakia, said that 21 pupils out of 65 students had dropped out of school because they did not like the walk.

The accounts of Arab villagers were a far cry from the claims of Tayoush website, which was that Israeli settlers were preventing Palestinian school children from going to school for many months.

In other words, Palestinian Arab school children had been inconvenienced in a time of war.

Would Tayoush change its allegations that a severe human rights violation had occurred?


Tayoush spokesman Niv Gordon, reached at his East Jerusalem home, said that "The creation of a special path for Arab children to go to school is Israeli Apartheid".

Gordon was emphatic that any separate path paved for Palestinian Arabs would mean that Israel had adopted a policy of Apartheid.

Tayoush has invited the media to participate in its motorized procession this Saturday in which Tayoush leaders say that they will escort Palestinian school children to school in order to protect them from the threat of Jewish neighbors whom Tayoush claims will not allow them to get an education.

Will the media buy the story being spun by Tayoush? Time will tell.

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