TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump has pledged to retain the annual U.S. funding of $300 million to a UN agency for Palestinian refugees despite calls from Israel to shut it down, according to a recent report.
“Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has privately assured the UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, that the United States, which provides more than $300 million to the agency each year, will maintain its current levels of funding to the organization,” Foreign Policy magazine reported.
Foreign Policy reported:
“America has long been committed to funding UNRWA’s important mission, and that will continue,” said one official at the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
The move runs contrary to the administration’s push to rein in spending on UN relief programs elsewhere. It reflects growing concern that the imposition of sharp cuts to Palestinian relief programs could thwart the White House campaign to restart Middle East peace talks, and inject further political instability in a region that stands permanently perched on the brink of political upheaval.
Palestinians categorized as refugees are the only refugees in the world who are able to pass their status on to their descendants – even if they are citizens of another country. This means that the original half million refugees now number five million. In addition, they are the only refugee group in the world to have a UN agency dedicated solely to them, with the rest of the world’s 65 million refugees coming under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Israel has called for UNRWA to be absorbed by the UNHCR after UNRWA discovered that underground terror tunnels built by Hamas were being dug beneath its schools in Gaza.
UNRWA has come under fire on many occasions both for spreading anti-Semitic hate in its schools and for employing members of terror organizations and supporters of terror. In February, UN Watch released an 130-page report exposing 40 UNRWA school employees in Gaza and elsewhere who engaged in incitement to terror against Israelis and expressed “anti-Semitism, including by posting Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler.”
That month the agency also announced the suspension of an UNRWA employee suspected of having been elected a Hamas leader.
The UN itself released a report in 2015 that found Palestinian terror groups used three empty UN-run schools in Gaza as a weapons cache. Moreover, it said that in at least two cases terrorists “probably” fired rockets at Israel from the schools during the 50-day summer conflict in 2014 between Israel and Hamas.
In June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Ambassador Haley that it was high time to “dismantle UNRWA and have its parts be integrated into the UN High Commission for Refugees.”
Arab nations are opposed to such a move because doing so will effectively put an end to the refugee question, ending the dream of the Palestinian “right of return” whereby five million descendants of Palestinian refugees can return to sovereign Israel in any future peace agreement if such a “right” is ever granted.
On the surface, it appeared as if Kal Penn committed a noble deed.
This week, Penn won the “MasterChef Celebrity Countdown” contest in a Fox TV special, securing a $25,000 donation for a charity of his choice. The Hollywood celebrity decided to give the cash to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Penn, best known for playing Kumar in the “Harold & Kumar” stoner movie comedies, previously served in President Obama’s White House Office of Public Engagement. A committed leftist like the rest of Hollywood, Penn often articulates his political views on social media.
Though UNRWA postures itself as a simple relief agency for Palestinian refugees, its presence in the Middle East has actually worsened the Arab-Israeli conflict. Instead of solving the Palestinian territorial crisis, UNRWA has helped to move it into perpetuity.
Originally, the United Nations organization only recognized 750,000 Palestinians as “refugees.” But the U.N. has expanded the definition for Palestinian refugees to include original refugees’ children and grandchildren, which has expanded the total to above 5 million. This puts Palestinians in a refugee league of their own.
The U.N.’s other refugee agency, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), does not allow other refugees to pass down their status to their kids and grandkids. And also unlike UNHCR, UNRWA does not promote resettling their “refugees” into countries that might be willing to take them in. Instead, they keep Palestinians in an endless state of dependency, with an ever-growing roster.
Worse, the Relief and Works Agency has essentially embedded itself with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. UNRWA has employed actual terrorists and Nazi sympathizers, and uses its U.N.-funded schools to push false, exterminationist, anti-Semitic narratives about Jews and Israel.
The U.N. outfit has been caught several times stockpiling missiles for Hamas in children’s schools, and the agency’s construction materials sometimes end up in Hamas’ homemade tunnels, which are used to infiltrate Israel and commit terror attacks.
The United States remains the top contributor to UNRWA. In 2015, the U.S. taxpayers contributed $380 million toward the agency’s projects.
By all indications, Kal Penn, like UNRWA, is not a big fan of the state of Israel.
In 2014, as Israel was under bombardment from Hamas rockets, Penn vented his frustrations with U.S. policy. He disagreed with the rearming of Israel in its battle with Palestinian terrorism. Penn took to Twitter, writing: “Wow, guess we’re not serious about a ceasefire.”
Wow, guess we're not serious about a ceasefire. "U.S. Gives Israel More Grenades & Mortar Rounds for Gaza Offensive"http://t.co/qZ1YlACq4q
My weekend column in on the Palestinians’ new intifada, the Obama State Department’s disgraceful response to it, and how Islamists and Leftists continue to push for the “One State Solution” – no more Jewish state – an objective that is helped along by the “Two State Solution” fantasy peddled by the bipartisan Beltway.
A related development: A watchdog group, UN Watch, reports that staffers at a major United Nations agency with a long history of encouraging Palestinian terrorism, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), is inciting the latest spate of attacks in Israel. From the UN Watch press release:
UN staffers are using the imprimatur of their official positions to incite Palestinian stabbing and shooting attacks against Israeli Jews, with one UN-identified employee calling on Facebook to “stab Zionist dogs,” according to a new report issued today by UN Watch, the Geneva-based non-governmental organization that is accredited by the United Nations with the mandate to monitor the world body’s compliance with its charter.
UN Watch submitted the report today to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl, and U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, whose government’s $400 million annual grant makes it the largest funder of UNRWA.
“The UN and top funders of UNRWA such as the United States government must act immediately to terminate employees who are inciting murderous anti-Semitism and fueling the deadly pandemic of Palestinian attacks against Israeli Jews that have claimed innocent men, women and children, aged 13 to 78,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
“Despite UNRWA’s promise, in the wake of our previous report, to take action and dismiss UNRWA perpetrators of incitement, there has been no accountability whatsoever,” said Neuer. “On the contrary, UNRWA’s main response has been to try and intimidate UN Watch.”…
Although we are over $18 trillion in debt (officially, with the unofficial total many times higher), the U.S. government not only redistributes $400 million a year to support the UNRWA’s promotion of terrorism; our government also redistributes a staggering $5 billion per annum to Palestinians: the people carrying out the yet another intifada, the people who elected Hamas – a formally designated terrorist organization under American law – to govern Gaza, and the people whose U.S.-supported Palestinian Authority has voluntarily formed a unity government with Hamas.
On April 18, two roadside bombs exploded in the Gaza Strip. Neither of the IEDs planted by Salafi jihadists opposed to Hamas rule in the enclave caused serious damage, but both explosions targeted United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) facilities. While the incidents were widely reported, there has been little questioning of why UNRWA buildings were targeted by those opposing Hamas. The logical conclusion is that in the eyes of those who planted the devices Hamas and UNRWA are identified as cooperating entities.
Back in 2004, confirmation of UNRWA’s relationship with Hamas came from the very highest level when the U.N. organization’s long-time Commissioner-General, Peter Hansen, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, “I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don’t see that as a crime.” Hansen left his post soon after.
According to its critics, UNRWA allows the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to dictate what will be taught in UNRWA schools, including incitement against the State of Israel, the aspiration to martyrdom, and the demonization of Jews. Hamas is alleged to control the UNRWA teaching staff union and through those teachers, feed young and impressionable minds a diet of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic indoctrination. UNRWA vehemently denies this charge.
At its inception in 1950, UNRWA’s definition of a Palestine refugee was crystal clear, including someone whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”
Depending on whose figures one accepts, between 600,000-700,000 former residents of British mandated Palestine left their homes in that period. That’s about the same number of Jews who were forced to leave neighboring Arab lands and move to Israel as their lives became untenable in their long established countries of residence.
UNRWA supports a Palestinian “right of return,” meaning any or all of those 5.2 million people should have the right to move into Israel.
That result would create a demographic avalanche which would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish homeland.
“According to the UNHCR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNRWA’s parent organization], you lose your refugee status if you become a citizen of another country,” David Roet, Israel’s deputy UN ambassador, said in a speech to the UN last week. “But in the Palestinian case, this restriction does not apply. UNRWA – and UNRWA alone – allows refugees to pass their refugee status to their children and now grandchildren.”
UNRWA employs more than 10,000 people in Gaza, Roet added. “Where were they when Hamas stockpiled thousands of rockets, many of them in close vicinity to UNRWR facilities? It seems that while they are quick to condemn Israel, when it comes to reporting on Hamas, UNRWA’s employees become blind, deaf, and mute.”
In UNRWA schools, “Palestinian children are taught that the only solution to their plight is the so-called ‘claim of return.’ Many UNRWA facilities are decorated with keys symbolizing this claim of return. Young children are taught that these keys will one day open doors for them – but in truth these keys have them locked in a distorted reality. The ‘claim of return,’ make no mistake, is a euphemism for the destruction of the State of Israel.”
Roet’s comments came amid UN events marking UNRWA’s 65th anniversary and were in response to UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl’s assertion that Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East “face an existential crisis on many fronts.” Yet UNRWA appears to allow the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to dictate what will be taught in its schools even though, as a supposedly apolitical body, it holds veto power over classroom instruction.
Refugees claim to want a better life, desperate to leave war-torn nations. Yet upon entering stable and peaceful countries, whether legally or illegally, instead of settling into that so-called “better life,” many transplant the violence to their new homes. While there are those who are truly seeking refuge, too many troublemakers are in the mix, generating a recurring theme of crime, violence, and even terrorism. And it’s everywhere.
The US legally welcomes tens of thousands of refugees each year. From 1999 to 2009, up to between 70,000 and 91,000 were allowed annually, and for 2015, the ceiling is 70,000. The Immigration Policy Center website explains that, “The United States resettles more refugees than any other country, and these refugees go on to contribute to our communities and our economy.”
Yes. Those wonderful “contributions.” The Syrian refugee program has been called a “back door for jihadists.” An FBI official has stated that picking out the terrorists hiding amongst the refugees on their way to America in the near future will be practically impossible. The same occurred with Iraqi “refugees,” despite more substantial intelligence than what exists in the Syrian situation. Dozens of Iraqi terrorists entered. They were not stealthily penetrating our borders but were warmly welcomed- legally.
The Iraqi “Refugees”
In the summer of 2011, two Iraqi refugees in Kentucky were arrested on terrorism charges. Cousins Waad Alwan and Mohanad Hammadi were among 56,000 Iraqis who were welcomed into America based on the premise that their lives were in danger.
A sniper and bomb maker in Iraq, Alwan said that his “lunch and dinner would be an American.” His fingerprint was found in 2005 on a roadside bomb intended for US troops and was entered into the Defense Department database. However, in 2009, when he came to the US, this database was not yet a part of the screening process. It is now, but that’s a little too late. There are already tens of thousands of refugees in the country who were able to avoid this security measure.
Of course the government would never have allowed this to happen if they had known. The issue is security and the lack thereof. How could this man, a sworn enemy who took pride in his hatred against America, find a loophole in the system and come in as a refugee?
Upon hearing the word “refugee,” what typically comes to mind are words like “victim,” “in need,” “desperate,” “persecuted,” etc. And we feel compassion for these poor people who need help. But what is the truth? How many Waad Alwan’s have taken advantage of our refugee program?
Apparently many of these Iraqi refugees are indeed under investigation, as FBI Director Robert Mueller reported to a House committee in February 2011. No other details were given as to just how many or who they were.
More Refugee Terrorists
Iraqi refugee Abdullatif Aldosary was a known terrorist and convicted felon who had been denied US citizenship for apparent “terrorist activity” before bombing a federal building in Arizona in 2012- yet he was a “refugee” who has also been charged with murder in a separate case.
Of course the Tsarnaev brothers were also refugees, as well as Mohamed Mohamud, a Somali sentenced to 30 years in prison for his terror plot to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. The FBI was successful in catching Mohamud in a sting operation in which he thought he was being recruited by Al Qaeda.
Iraqi refugee Faleh al-Maleki ran over his daughter in Arizona with his car in an honor killing because she was too “Westernized.”
Abdinassir Mohamud Ibrahim is a Somali who had been granted refugee status based on a fraudulent application. He had claimed to be from one clan but was actually from another and was related to known terrorists. Furthermore, he was closely associated with a member of al-Shabab, and in February 2015, he was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for conspiring to provide material support to al-Shabab.
Ibrahim is not alone. Liban Haji Mohamed is also a Somali “refugee” and naturalized US citizen who is now on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.
Ali Abdi is yet another Somali refugee convicted of a crime. He had raped a 9 year-old girl in Vermont.
The Washington Times reports that among the more than 30,000 Somali refugees living in Minnesota, as well as Somali-Americans and American converts to Islam, there have been “numerous convictions for various levels of collaboration with Islamist terror groups, plus reports of fighting with al-Shabab or other Islamist groups.”
They are also taking advantage of the generous welfare programs the state has to offer.
Overall there are over 110,000 Somalis in the US, and the examples of those convicted of crimes are too many to include in one short article.
A total of 73,293 refugees arrived. This number reflects the applicants and all their dependents. Nearly 25% of those refugees arrived from Iraq. Nearly 23% from Burma; 17% from Bhutan; almost 7% from Somalia; 5% from Iran; almost 1% from Ethiopia; nearly 7% from Cuba; a little over 4% from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a little over 3% from Eritrea; 1% from Vietnam; and the rest from various places.
That’s a lot of numbers. But what does it mean? Iraq, the biggest contributor of refugees to the US in 2010, is a Muslim majority country. In fact, nearly all Iraqis are Muslim. Most Somalis are Muslim as well, and same for Iranians. About a third of Ethiopians and a little over a third of Eritreans are also Muslim. It all boils down to this: as many as 40% of the refugees who enter the US each year follow the religion which is the very same religion over 90% of the terrorists in the world profess.
This immigration, both legal and illegal, is like a tornado, leaving behind a path of devastation and spreading crime along the way.
In Israel, the illegal refugee problem in Tel Aviv has become so dire,two women are suing the state for not attending to the issue which has caused a severe increase in crime. Immigrants mainly from the Sudan and Eritrea have illegally made Israel their home, fleeing one danger zone, only to bestow their own danger onto peaceful Israeli citizens. Tens of thousands of African migrants in Tel Aviv have translated to crime, crime and more crime. And this is apart from Arab terrorists entering or attempting to enter Israel illegally with the goal of murdering Jews, a crime rewarded by Palestinian governments, as well as parts of the West, which tend to victimize the terrorists and demonize the actual victims.
In the UK, the Rotherham Pakistani Muslim child rape gang epidemic is responsible for the grooming and rape of an estimated 2000 young British girls. As Paul Wilkinson writes, “Rotherham’s infamy includes at least one murder when 17 year-old Laura Wilson became Britain’s first white ‘honour killing’ victim, at least one suicide, one girl doused in petrol, families of victims threatened and approximately one hundred children born as a result of these rapes.” Out of political correctness, it had all been swept under the rug.
Rapes, murders, terrorism, assaults, domestic violence and a slew of other crimes- but we are to have compassion for refugees and their “desperate” situations, while the true victims of Muslim terrorism- Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and other non-Muslims- are overlooked.
Perhaps the “better life” such refugees seek is really just a safer place for them to commit their violence.
There are true refugees in the world. Unfortunately, many who exemplify the definition of the term do not receive help. Instead, we bring over people who end up on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.
Begun as a short-term mission on May 1, 1950, UNRWA’s existence has continued with successive three-year mandate renewals, the latest being last June 30. UNRWA’s longevity derives from evolving definitions of “refugee,” never defined in UNRWA’s founding 1949 UN resolution, that count descendants through a refugee’s male line. This includes some whose ancestors were nomadic Bedouins or who simply became indigent after losing their jobs in the new state of Israel. The 1951 UN Refugee Convention’s definition, by contrast, is not inheritable, nor does it encompass individuals who obtain new citizenships, like the 2 million Palestinian “refugees” in Jordan who may attend both UNRWA and Jordanian schools.
Additionally, UNRWA’s 59 camps serve 1.1 million beneficiaries in the Gaza Strip, 688,700 in the “West Bank” territories of Judea and Samaria, including East Jerusalem, 496,000 in Syria, and 425,000 in Lebanon. These 4.7 million UNRWA clients compare with 15.4 million refugees in UNHCR’s definition and 12 million stateless individuals. Yet UNHCR counts 7,200 staff and a $3.32 billion budget compared to UNWRA’s 29,000 (99% local Palestinians) and $1.0037 billion budget.
Only an estimated one-third of 100 million 20th century refugees received any assistance, yet international aid helped encourage 962,000 people to register as refugees with UNRWA at its founding. UNHCR usually expects host countries to provide refugee services, in contrast to UNWRA’s agencies, such that non-refugee Palestinians avail themselves of services in Gaza and Jerusalem camps largely indistinguishable from the surrounding cities. Although overcrowded, UNWRA camps consist largely of stone-block buildings with modern utilities such as phone lines, sewage, water, and electricity. Some camps even have luxury dwellings, such as those in Jenin with Italian marble and Spanish tiles.
Bedein condemns, though, that UNRWA “mandates the perpetuity of refugee squalor.” Traditional refugee policy practiced by UNHCR focuses on refugee resettlement where return to lost homes is not possible or even permitted. The 1949 Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, meanwhile, do not recognize any refugee “right of return.”
The UNRWA is on the front lines of the Hamas War in Gaza. In the headlines, its schools are forever being fired on or found to be stockpiling rockets. If individual Gazans are being used as human shields, the UNRWA often seems as if it is one big organizational human shield.
But the UNRWA isn’t Hamas’ human shield. The UNRWA is Hamas.
The “UN” part of the UNRWA, the blue logos and symbols, fool us into thinking of it as an international humanitarian organization. But the UNRWA in Gaza functions as a large Palestinian Arab organization with a smattering of foreign supervisory staff.
And those foreign staffers often tend to leave during a conflict.
The UNRWA is not an international organization operating in the Middle East. Effectively it’s a local Arab Muslim organization funded and regulated internationally. Since the UNRWA classifies 80% of Gazans as “refugees”, it administers the biggest welfare state in the world on their behalf.
The UNRWA is the biggest employer in the West Bank and Gaza after the Palestinian Authority and the vast majority of its employees are “locally recruited”. Varying figures place the share of local employees at between 90 and 99 percent.
Even though there are more Arab Muslims living in the West Bank than in Gaza, there are more “official” refugees in Gaza, which means that more UNRWA funding and efforts are directed there. The UNRWA only runs 96 schools in the West Bank, but it runs 245 schools in Gaza. It employs less than 3,000 education staffers in the West Bank, but over 10,000 in Gaza.
Why does Hamas, which is obsessed with brainwashing the next generation into martyrdom, allow a foreign organization to run an educational system for 232,000 pupils?
It’s because in Gaza, Hamas and the UNRWA are the same thing.
When there was talk of reforming the UNRWA by removing Hamas members from its ranks, the editor of a Hamas paper wrote that, “Laying off the agency employees because of their political affiliation means laying off all the employees of the aid agency, because…they are all members of the ‘resistance,’ in its various forms.”
The official word from Hamas was that it and the UNRWA are the same thing. The UNRWA’s vast majority of locally sourced Gazans are part of Hamas.
The UNRWA does not see that as a problem.
“I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll,” a former UNRWA Commissioner General said, “and I don’t see that as a crime.”
“Hamas as a political organization does not mean that every member is a militant, and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another,” he added.
Also if the UNRWA fired Hamas members from its Gaza staff, it would have no one left.
Hamas control over the UNRWA in Gaza is reflected in the schools which promote Islamic terrorism. UNRWA schools have become flashpoints in conflicts between Israel and Hamas because the UNRWA schools are Hamas bases of recruitment and operation.
The current accusations and counter-accusations over attacks on and from UNRWA schools are a reenactment of the same set of events taking place in 2009. Only the locations and the names have changed. The same headlines, “Israeli shelling kills dozens at UN school in Gaza,” and “Massacre of Innocents as UN school is shelled” are repeating all over again.
Then, as now, Hamas launched attacks on Israeli forces from around a UNRWA school. Then it turned out that the attack had happened outside the school and no one had actually died inside the school. Nothing has changed since then. The “massacres” in which Hamas terrorists using UNRWA schools as a base are killed pop up in every paper. The UNRWA repeats the same lies.
The UNRWA has admitted that Hamas uses its schools to store rockets. It admits that it has Hamas members in its ranks. It admits that rockets have been fired “into Israel from the vicinity of UN facilities and residential areas.”
What it refuses to admit is that it should in any way be held accountable for functioning as an arm of a terrorist organization.
If an organization consists largely of Hamas members who use it pursue Hamas goals, then the organization is Hamas.
The UNRWA is Hamas.
Hamas use of the UNRWA as its public face is a war crime, but terrorists commit war crimes without a second thought. The UN and the UNRWA however are complicit in the war crime by allowing Hamas to go on exploiting the UN brand.
Hamas is listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It’s against the law for the United States to fund it. By funding the UNRWA, the United States is paying Hamas and participating in its war crimes. Using civilian and humanitarian facilities for military purposes is a war crime. Using them to stage attacks against civilians by attackers out of uniform adds further crimes to the total.
The United States provided $130 million to the UNRWA in 2013. The UNRWA’s operations in Gaza would not be viable without that money.
According to UNRWA, a Palestinian ” refugee ” is someone who was living in the region of Palestine… two years before the state of Israël was born. This definition doesn’t fit with international law. The grand son of a “refugee”, born in another country, cannot be called “a refugee” himself. So, what is UNRWA’s interest making sure Palestinians are not resettled ? That may be the key to this middle east conflict !
View this excellent slide show on the facts about UNWRA vs. UNHCR (thanks to Yona)