Jerusalem – An American citizen, Karen Abu Zayd, retired last week as the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which services Palestinian Arab refugees from 1948 and their descendants.

Ms. Abu Zayd has been succeeded by a Spanish citizen, Filippo Grandi, who had been her lieutenant.

Mr. Grandi’s inaugural letter to the UNRWA staff, dated Jan. 26, provides insight into his attitude toward Israel:

“I need not tell you how difficult this period is for the Palestinian people. We are all painfully aware of the counterproductive policies collectively punishing the people of the Gaza Strip; conscious decisions that have caused untold suffering and a dramatic deterioration in the lives of the population, in contravention of international law. One of my key priorities will be to continue to advocate strongly on behalf of the 1.5 million Gazans, and to do so not only until the end of the blockade and the occupation, but also until a just and lasting solution to the plight of the refugees is achieved.

“Despite some recent economic improvements for some, the lives of most Palestinians in the West Bank continue to be made almost impossible by obstacles, walls, movement limitations and other restrictions, and by the expanding threat of settler violence. For those residing in East Jerusalem, as I do, it is cause for daily anguish to watch the situation deteriorate rapidly under our very eyes, especially the ruthless evictions of Palestinians from their homes. UNRWA will continue to stand with the affected families and all of those in need of our protection and will tirelessly lend our voice to their calls for justice.”

UNRWA’s mandate is purely humanitarian – however, the new UNRWA director has inaugurated his new role with a political stance that seems to be beyond his purview.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com.

Previous articleIsrael on Canadian college campuses; an up-hill battle
Next articleNGO Monitor Calls on New Israel Fund to Draw “Red Lines”
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here