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Monday, April 26, 2004

Arabs in Lebanon angered by UNRWA directive

Agency wants posters of Yassin and Rantisi removed from schools
The (Lebanon) Daily Star: The director general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Lebanon, Richard Cook, angered Palestinians in Lebanon when he recently requested that pictures of Palestinian leaders be torn down from UNRWA schools in northern Lebanon.

The decision caused serious discontent among the refugees in Sidon camps who said Cook was the first director general to take this decision, under the pretext of implementing UN resolutions and in a bid to prevent children getting accustomed to violence and terrorism.

The decision ordered the removal of pictures of Hamas leaders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantissi, both recently killed by Israel, children throwing stones at Israeli forces and victory banners.

Popular Palestinian committees expressed their views in a two-hour meeting held by Cook at the UNRWA offices in Sidon, which saw heated debate. The committees chaired by Secretary General Abu Maqdah expressed surprise at the decision, when it was adopted by the UNRWA administration.

Abu Maqdah asked why the decision coincided with Palestinians' anger at the Yassin and Rantissi's assassination when Israeli forces, invading UNRWA institutions and schools in the Jenin camp, killing students and raising the Israeli flag instead of the UN's. Cook said that the UNRWA was incapable of deterring Israeli forces and added that the UNRWA administration was created to serve refugees.

Abu Maqdah conveyed to Cook the Palestinians' fears about the initiative and its political dimensions. He added that visiting schools wouldn't reduce the Palestinians' suffering, but increased assistance from the international community would.

Hamas' leader in Sidon, Abu Ahmad Fadl, stressed the importance of martyrs in Palestinians' lives, adding that schools constituted a center to educate students about their rights. Fadl said he hoped the international community's resolutions would bind Israel as well.
No sweat. I'm sure there will be no objection -from Israelis- to taking down all the posters of terrorists which adorn the walls of Israeli schools. You could probably consider it already done.

On the first day of school, September 2, 2001, Israeli
children dance under a sign that reads in Hebrew:
"Year of Peace and Security." The school is in the
Israeli neighborhood of Gilo, Jerusalem, which has
been a target of violence in the past.
Photo: AP/Wide World

To find that photo of Israeli schoolchildren, I searched Google Images for [Israeli + school]. After seven pages of wounded and suffering Arab children, this was the first image listed that showed Israeli children in school, but check out the original context of the photo, a Scholastic webpage for (American) teachers called "Life in the Middle East."

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