For years we have been part of a small cadre of determined individuals who saw clearly the damage being done by UNRWA — the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees. Damage to prospects for peace in this region, and damage directly to Israel.

There is so much wrong with this agency that it’s impossible to document it all in this post. Suffice it to say the following:

UNRWA is the only international refugee agency in the world dedicated to one group of refugees — the Palestinian Arab “refugees.” All other refugees are tended to by the UN High Commission for Refugees. And what’s astounding is that UNRWA’s rules for “its” refugees are different from the rules for all those other refugees.

UNHCR works to get refugees resettled as quickly as possible — even if the only alternative is settling them permanently in the place to which they had fled or to a third place — so that they might get on with their lives.

UNRWA, however, which is functioning from an orientation that is highly politicized and heavily anti-Israel, says that “its” refugees continue to be refugees even if they get citizenship elsewhere. ONLY “returning” to Israel would eradicate that status. What is more, UNRWA says descendants of refugees are also refugees, indefinitely via the patrilineal line. Which means UNRWA promotes “return” to Israel of people who have never been here, and whose parents or even grandparents have never been here either.

So, while other refugee populations diminish over time, the rolls of UNRWA have grown exponentially. Hey! the idea here is to invade Israel by demanding that “right” for some roughly five million counted locally, or seven million world-wide. A good way to conquer Israel without lifting a machine gun.

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Over the years, I have examined this approach of UNRWA and written about the fact that the so-called “right of return” does not exist. But I have also considered the deprivation of human rights endured by those refugees; the tendency for them to be radicalized because of their frustrations; the inciteful nature of UNRWA education; and the close link to UNRWA of Hamas — which, for starters, controls its school system in Gaza.

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But now the focus has turned on the matter of refugee status within UNRWA, with regard to the number of descendants (which is increasing) vs. the number of original refugees (which is clearly diminishing as time passes).

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is attempting to have an amendment attached to the funding bill for the State Department, for fiscal year 2013, that would require the State Department to provide to Congress: 1) the number of Palestinians physically displaced from their homes in what became Israel in 1948, and 2) the number of their descendants administered by UNRWA (that is, on UNRWA’s rolls today as refugees).

Credit: alternet

This is just a beginning, but a fantastic one that is long overdue. It calls public attention to the games being played by UNRWA, and ultimately will call into question US funding for UNRWA. The US is the single largest donor to UNRWA and the fact that a great deal of the US funds for UNRWA go to assist grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who fled in 1948 is not going to be received well in many quarters.

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It is, however, a tough battle. The State Department is on UNRWA’s side. (Are you surprised?) UNRWA itself, along with its adjunct American Friends of UNRWA, does exceedingly good PR. At any given time you can find an article in one place or another documenting the splendid work that UNRWA does for these poor, long-suffering refugees.

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If you live in IL, and are thus a constituent of Senator Kirk, let him know if you are pleased with what he is doing:

http://www.kirk.senate.gov/?p=comment_on_legislation

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Let me add here, as well, that Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) has taken a very active interest in UNRWA as well: He has focused on the textbooks, and deprivation of human rights of the refugees. His contribution is valuable, and there is hope that he will advance his work via Congressional hearings on the issue.

Credit: Awrambatimes

And again, if you are a constituent of Congressman Smith (4th Congressional district of NJ), let him know if you are pleased that he is looking into UNRWA’s school books and related problems:

http://chrissmith.house.gov/Contact/ZipAuth.htm

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When I left the U.S. in 2001, and came to Israel as an olah (a new immigrant) I was eager to share personal impressions and solid information about the situation here. Thus was my listserve born. This list has grown, and its content and style have been refined. Now I do several postings a week, offering both reliable data and analysis.

Shortly after initiating my listserve, I began to work professionally as an investigative journalist for the Center for Near East Policy Research. Today I serve the Center in a consultant capacity. I work, as well, as a freelance writer.

New Jersey born and bred and a resident of Maryland for several years, I have been living in Jerusalem since shortly after my arrival in Israel.

If there has been a constant in my work over time, it has been my writing, but in many ways my background has been eclectic.

My bachelors degree is in psychology and my masters in counseling and human services.  I took up the cause of the Jews of Ethiopia in the 80s and early 90s, via the American Association for Ethiopian Jews; I worked in the field with people newly arrived in Israel, and assisted with relief and rescue efforts from the States.

I then turned to designing softskills software -- training in the computer on diversity, stress reduction and using your whole brain effectively -- and producing Jewish educational software and hard copy materials.  Simultaneously, I conducted live workshops on stress reduction, Jewish identity and more.

For a period of time, I worked with a top non-governmental anti-terrorist in the US.  This led, fairly directly, to my investigative journalism.

My articles have appeared in such venues as Azure MagazineThe Jerusalem Post, FrontPageMagazine.com, American Thinker, Arutz Sheva, YNet, National Review Online, The (Philadelphia) Jewish Exponent,  MidstreamPresent TenseThe New York TimesBaltimore Jewish TimesOutlookAmitThe Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia), and The Aish website.

I have produced several major reports on UNRWA for the Center for Near East Policy Research, as well reports on the true nature of Fatah, the dangers of funding PA security forces, the Israeli NGO Adalah, and more.

I have written three books: Disclosed: Inside the Palestinian Authority and the PLO in 2004, and Falasha No More (for children) andTreacherous Journey: One Man's Escape from Ethiopia, both in 1985.

I have done interviews with BBC online, FrontPageMagazine.com, Voice of America, IBA English News (Israeli TV), and IsraelNationalNewsTV.

I am on the Board of Advisors of EMET, a Washington based organization dedicated to providing policy makers in the US with accurate information.

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