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UNRWA denies Holocaust quotes

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — UNRWA denied quotes diminishing the Holocaust attributed to its officials.

"The quotes attributed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center to UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Karen AbuZayd and UNRWA’s Gaza Director, John Ging are false," said a statement released Tuesday by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the body administering relief to Palestinian refugees. "We condemn Holocaust denial in all its forms and we reject the politicization of the Holocaust."

The Wiesenthal Center last week called for the dismissal of AbuZayd and Ging.

It quoted AbuZayd as saying, "I can refute allegations that the U.N. school curriculum includes anything about the Holocaust." Also that "we focus on human rights in curriculum" and "the murder of 6 million Jews and 5 million other undesirables … is not a human rights issue."

The first part of the quote was based on a report from Ma’an, a Palestinian news agency. The part about "Jews and other undesirables" is untraceable, and JTA’s request to the Wiesenthal Center to expain its origin has gone unanswered. 

The Wiesenthal Center quoted Ging as saying that "There is no intention to integrate materials and topics [on the Holocaust] that are inconsistent with the desire of Palestinian society." Ging’s quote was based on a computer-generated translation of an Arabic language report by PalToday, a Gaza Strip based newsagency with Islamist sympathies, quoting a Hamas official who purported to quote Ging. 

The controversy was generated by Hamas complaints about reports that UNRWA planned to introduce Holocaust education into its curriculum. Hamas denies the Holocaust and describes Holocaust education as part of a "Zionist plot."

The UNRWA statement did not say whether the agency planned to introduce such education.

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