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Anti-Israel content exposed in UN agency’s school textbooks, as lawmakers decry ‘systematic hatred’

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Anti-Israel content exposed in UN agency's school textbooks, as lawmakers decry 'systematic hatred'

A newly declassified report is shedding light on anti-Israel material found in U.S.-funded textbooks used by the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) in Palestinian schools — while faulting the State Department for leaving out key information in updates to Congress.

The report on the textbook content of UNRWA schools was completed in April last year but was then classified. Republican lawmakers have been calling for its declassification ever since, and last week succeeded in that push.

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The report found that some textbooks in UNRWA-run schools did not mention Israel or Judaism and included regional maps that excluded Israel while referring to Israeli cities as Palestinian. They included math problems that challenged pupils to identify the number of Palestinian casualties in the First and Second Intifadas. The report will fuel long-standing concerns from conservatives that the U.S. was funding anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments via funding for UNRWA, which was halted last year.

Between 2015 and 2017, the U.S. provided $243 million in educational aid to the West Bank and Gaza via the State Department and USAID. But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that Congress was unable to properly assess the material in the textbooks because of the State Department’s misleading updates to the body in three annual reports during that time frame.

“Although State submitted its required reports to Congress on time, State included inaccurate information in the 2017 report and omitted potentially useful in all three reports,” the GAO report says.

Two of those annual reports were published during the Obama administration, while the last one was published in the first months of the Trump administration. Since then, the Trump administration has taken a much tougher stance toward UNRWA, and last year cut all funding to the body as well as to the Palestinian Authority. It forms part of a broader push by the administration against alleged anti-Israel bias at the U.N.

In particular, the GAO faults State for reporting that UNRWA had completed training teachers and distributed “complementary teaching materials” to address the problematic content that had been identified, when it had not. The department also omitted information about whether UNRWA found that any materials included content that was classified as “incitement” or that did not promote human dignity.

“Our analysis also showed that State’s required reports did not include some information that could be useful for congressional oversight of whether UNRWA is taking steps to ensure that all the content of all educations materials currently taught in UNRWA schools and summer camps is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity, and tolerance, and does not include incitement,” the report says.

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Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., and Lee Zeldin, R-NY, who pushed for the report to be declassified, said that American taxpayers had unknowingly funded “systematic hatred.”

“The failures of the State Department and UNRWA allowed systematic anti-Semitic and anti-Israel ideas to flourish in UNRWA schools in the West Bank and Gaza,” Perry said in a statement. “The harsh reality is that the American taxpayers were unknowingly funding this systematic hatred because key information was withheld from the American public – including my constituents.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a statement to Fox News, describing the report’s conclusions as “completely unacceptable.”

“UNRWA promotes anti-Semitic incitement, and institutionally they have often and regularly lashed out against the United States despite receiving funding from the U.S. government,” he said. “This report troublingly suggests that Congress may not have been getting the information it needed to exercise proper oversight, including from parts of the U.S. government. If that turns out to be true, it’s completely unacceptable.”

In a statement to Fox News, the State Department noted that the GAO report concluded that State took steps to address problematic content. It said it agreed with the GAO recommendations and has taken steps to implement them immediately.

It also disputed the claim that it had misled Congress, saying that its 2017 report — which claimed UNRWA distributed complementary teaching materials — was, in fact, accurate based on the information the department had at the time.

A State Department spokesman also said the department is “committed to monitoring and combating incitement to violence in Palestinian textbooks” and it has engaged with the Palestinian Authority directly to flag “problematic content.”

David Bedein, who as director of the Center for Near East Policy Research has studied the UNRWA curriculum for years, told Fox News that, “State [misreported] to Congress that it had developed alternative materials to the anti-semitic and pro- incitement PA school curriculum.”

“In the GAO report, State cannot explain why that such existing alternative materials were never implemented and have never been seen in the UNRWA classroom,” he said.

Bedein praised the work of Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, who also pushed for the report’s release: “Thanks to the integrity of Senator James Risch, the issue of UNRWA ‘education’ will now see the light of day. He stood by his principles because of issues of fundamental integrity. “

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In its response to the report, UNRWA told the GAO that its program strives to “realize the potential of all its Palestinian refugee students, to help them develop into confident, innovative, questioning, thoughtful, tolerant and open-minded critical thinkers, who uphold human values and tolerances, and contribute positively to the development of their society and the global community.”

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In its statement to Fox News, the State Department noted the decision to cut funding to UNRWA, and described the refugee agency as operating in “permanent crisis mode.”

“UNRWA’s business model, which is tied to an endlessly and exponentially expanding community of beneficiaries, is unsustainable and operates in permanent crisis mode,” the spokesman said. “As we announced in August 2018, the United States will no longer commit to funding UNRWA.”

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McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump’s a Russian asset

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McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump’s a Russian asset

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview Tuesday that he believes it is possible that President Trump is a Russian asset and thinks “that’s why we started our investigation.”

McCabe has said in the past that the FBI had a good reason to open up a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was working with Russia and a possible national security threat.

The former official was on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” when he was asked if he believes Trump may still be a Russian asset. He said he’s “anxious” to see the conclusion of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.

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He was also asked if he believes Trump is fit to serve and said it is not up to him to make the determination.

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Gowdy challenges McCabe’s claim congressional leaders didn’t object to Russia counterintelligence probe

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Gowdy challenges McCabe's claim congressional leaders didn't object to Russia counterintelligence probe

Former congressman and Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy disputed former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s claim Tuesday that congressional leaders didn’t object to the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation over President Trump’s Russia ties.

“The reason he’s doing it this way is that [Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.] and [former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.] are not allowed to discuss anything that’s said in a ‘Gang of Eight’ meeting and McCabe knows that,” Gowdy said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” “So he can level the accusation and Devin and Paul cannot refute him.” Nunes chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2015-19.

McCabe, in an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday morning, said no members of the “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders, including Nunes and Ryan, objected to the investigation.

“I told Congress what we had done,” McCabe told Savannah Guthrie.

“Did anyone object?” Guthrie asked.

“That’s the important part here, Savannah,” McCabe replied. “No one objected. Not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds and not based on the facts.”

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Gowdy, formerly a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he believed McCabe wasn’t telling the truth and that Nunes and Ryan did not know about a second investigation.

“There were three investigations into a duly elected president. The Peter Strzok one from July of 2016 and then McCabe started a counterintelligence [probe] and if he’s telling the truth, started a criminal probe into the president of the United States,” Gowdy told Martha MacCallum.

“I listened to Devin and Paul quiz the [Justice Department] and the FBI for hours on multiple occasions about the one counterintelligence investigation, we all knew about it. I find it stunning that they would know about a second one and not say a single solitary word.”

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Gowdy also addressed former FBI Director James Comey’s May 2017 firing and McCabe’s belief that the president was trying to shut down the Russia investigation.

“If thinking that Jim Comey is not a good FBI director is tantamount to being an agent of Russia then just list all the people that are agents of Russia. [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein…,” Gowdy said.

Fox News’ Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.

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Trump, Giuliani deny president tried obstructing Michael Cohen investigation

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Trump, Giuliani deny president tried obstructing Michael Cohen investigation

President Trump’s attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, denied a New York Times report that Trump asked then-Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker whether U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, a presidential ally, could be put in charge of the investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Trump’s onetime personal attorney Michael Cohen.

“The president said today he had no such conversation with the acting AG, and I believe Mr. Whitaker issued a statement to the same effect,” Giuliani said in a statement late Tuesday. “The rest of the piece is just a regurgitation of previously refuted obstruction theories. They all fail as obstruction because as [Harvard Law] Professor [Alan] Dershowitz’s recent book and many other authorities make clear, all of the alleged actions were within the president’s sole discretion under Article II of the U.S. Constitution.”

The Times report said that Whitaker told Trump that he could not put Berman in charge of the Cohen investigation because he had already recused himself from that matter. The paper claimed that Trump “soured” on Whitaker and “complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away.”

Trump denied the story at the White House Tuesday afternoon, referring to the Times report as “more fake news” and saying that he had a “very good” relationship with Whitaker, who was replaced last week by William Barr.

“I have a lot of respect for Mr. Whitaker. I think he’s done a great job,” Trump said. He said Whitaker was “a very fine man, and he should be given a lot of thanks by our nation.”

Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec referred to testimony Whitaker gave to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month.

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“Under oath to the House Judiciary Committee, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker stated that ‘at no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel’s investigation or any other investigation,'” Kupec said. “Mr. Whitaker stands by his testimony.”

Berman was named acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in January 2018 by the AG at that time, Jeff Sessions. Berman was appointed to the position indefinitely by the panel’s judges three months later.

Prosecutors in the Southern District say Trump directed Cohen to make illegal hush-money payments to two women — adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — in order to keep them quiet about alleged sexual encounters with them dating back more than a decade and coming soon after he’d married his current wife, Melania. Cohen is scheduled to report to prison next month to begin a three-year sentence after pleading guilty this past August to campaign finance and other violations.

Cohen is also scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 28. His attorney, Lanny Davis, has said that Cohen also plans to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight Committee before the end of this month. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

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Fox News’ John Roberts and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Click for more from The New York Times.

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