UNRWA or Western Schizophrenia

Le Point - by Simone Rodan-Benzaquen - January 27, 2024

L'article en Français ici

Since the pogrom of October 7 and the war unleashed by Hamas against Israel, not a day goes by without a scandal involving the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, better known as UNRWA.

Just today, the United Nations announced the opening of an investigation into the possible involvement of 12 of its employees in the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas. This prompted the United States to immediately suspend all funding until further notice. No surprise there.

A few weeks ago, UN Watch revealed the names of teachers and UNRWA employees in Gaza who, in a Telegram group of over 3,000 members, had celebrated the October 7 pogroms, praising murderers and rapists as 'heroes', gleefully sharing snapshots of dead or captured Israelis, and inciting the execution of hostages still being held. UNRWA and the UN, when contacted, declined to comment.

Already last month, Almog Boker, an Israeli journalist, had reported that one of the freed Israeli hostages had been held in the house of an UNRWA teacher in Gaza. The IDF spokesman's unit revealed that dozens of rockets and other weapons had been found in UNRWA crates in private homes in the north of the Gaza Strip. Many members of the Nukhba Force (the elite Hamas unit which carried out the massacre) are graduates or even employees of UNRWA. Most notable is one of the main terrorists killed in the Gaza fighting, Hamas Economy Minister Jawad Abu Shamala, who had been a teacher at one of UNRWA's schools in Khan Yunis.

Created in 1949 to offer refuge and aid to Palestinian refugees following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, UNRWA was intended to be a temporary solution. But under the influence of Arab countries, it became the only refugee agency in the world dedicated to a specific population, while all the others are under the aegis of the UNHCR.

Unlike all other refugees, Palestinian refugee status is effectively transmitted from generation to generation. Even a citizen of a third country can be a 'Palestinian refugee' at the same time. In Jordan, for example, Palestinian refugees live with a dual refugee identity. In Lebanon and Syria they live in refugee camps, without any rights.

In the 74 years of its existence, the number of UNRWA beneficiaries has risen from 750,000 refugees on the eve of the creation of the State of Israel to 5.9 million in 2022. This figure includes 1.6 million people in Gaza, a fourth generation of 'refugees', living in what is supposed to be Palestinian territory.

With the artificial increase in the number of refugees, UNRWA has become a vast organization with a turnover in excess of a billion dollars a year (a sum that is constantly rising as the number of refugees increases). It does not have a UN budget, receiving 95% of its funding from Western countries, including the European Union, Germany, and France. The 57 Arab and Muslim countries fund UNRWA to the tune of just a few million dollars.

The education system, which accounts for around 60% of UNRWA's budget, plays an important role in creating a Palestinian identity based entirely on the idea of the right of return (including to Israel), dedicated to the disappearance of the Jewish state and revenge.

Not surprisingly, UNRWA schools teach that Israel is an amorphous, Zionist entity, that it must be destroyed or will one day disappear. The aim of the school system is not to teach peace and the future of a future Palestinian state, but to foster the idea that Palestine from 'the river to the sea' will be conquered. Children expressly say so, talking about becoming 'shahids' (martyrs) in dozens of reports and online videos.

For decades, a reality has been knowingly ignored: UNRWA perpetuates conflict and radicalizes. Take the example of a 20-year-old in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Identified as a Palestinian refugee, he lacks a Lebanese passport and faces employment restrictions. His daily reality is imbued with the promise of a return to Palestine, to cities like Jaffa or Haifa. For him, the 1948 war and his status will only end when Israel is eliminated.

October 7 should be a triggering moment, allowing the world to understand that the same methods used up to now will inevitably lead to the same mistakes, and that the huge sums sent to UNRWA have not bought tranquility, but have created a generation of Palestinians who wish for the destruction of the State of Israel and the death of its inhabitants.

UNRWA is more than a humanitarian anomaly; it's the reflection of a schizophrenic policy, where the European Union, the United States, and the rest of the West, while advocating for the coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians, fund an entity that feeds the conflict and radicalizes an entire generation . It is as if France and the EU were massively funding the construction of settlements in the West Bank and violent young people who want to attack Palestinians, while at the same time claiming to want the creation of a sovereign and contiguous Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank.

For these reasons, pragmatic Switzerland had already questioned its support for UNRWA, voting a few weeks ago to stop funding it. The fact that the United States has now joined in the face of such serious and significant accusations marks an important turning point. France and the European Union must follow suit.



The West must understand that the continuation of the current policy will lead to the same tragedy that produced October 7, because countries that give money indirectly incite many Palestinians, especially children, to cultivate hatred and perpetuate the conflict.If the West really cares about the Palestinians, about peace it should put a stop to all this and find different solutions.