The United Nations wants very much to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
They want that so badly, that Israel just can’t seem to get off the agenda in the subcommittees and the leaders’ speeches.
Paradoxically, UNRWA-a sub-agency of the United Nations, which was established and is subsidized by its funds-is the agency that made solving this impossible. “There isn’t a conflict that can’t be resolved,” the peace advocates will leap in and say, citing examples of similar disputes about territory, religion and other issues in human history.
They are right, or almost right, except for the rare problem that is unparalleled-the problem of UNRWA, or in a term that we are more familiar with, the “refugee problem.”
The mystery surrounding the number of Palestinian refugees in the world is so large that it can only be compared to the mystery surrounding the body that with the force of its own money perpetuates the problem.
A majority of people agree about the beginning point in 1948: 730,000 Palestinian refugees, most of whom chose for their own reasons to abandon their homes and to wait for the promised judgment day. The Arab states trumpeted their intention of throwing the Jews into the sea, and all the Palestinians had to do was to leave for a vacation and wait for the spoils. A primitive form of evacuation-compensation, the second half of which was never exercised. Like the Palestinians who wandered from land to land, millions of other people migrated in the reality that evolved after World War II. A small portion of them, incidentally, Jews-800,000 of whom migrated from Arab countries.
The UN, which in those days was still an organization with ideals about mending the world, established an agency to tend to the problem of the Palestinian refugees. Its mandate was to settle them in the Arab states to which they fled. Except that that’s when Arab solidarity manifested itself-the Arab states refused (except for Jordan, which granted the Palestinian refugees citizenship at a later date).
UNRWA failed and in 1954 it reverted to being a local relief agency. The letter W, which stood for work, became superfluous. Refugee camps were established, workers unions were fostered, and that small agency turned into an organization with an annual budget of USD 540 million and with a refugee population in the millions (between five and eight million, based on various counts). Incidentally, during that very same period the UN tended to the needs of other refugees from the other countries in the world. The UNHCR made sure to settle them in their new countries and to help them. For refugees from everywhere around the world the policy in force was to solve the problem quickly, to reduce numbers. A refugee who was naturalized in the new country was struck from the list; a refugee who died was struck from the list, reducing the number of refugees. Actually, the UNHCR tended to all the refugees it had, without exception everywhere around the world. In UNRWA’s case, alternately, the problem was inflated until the lists became impossible even to those people who believe in peace tomorrow morning.
How did they manage to do that at UNRWA? They made sure that the misery never ended. The status of a refugee from 1948 was passed on to his or her offspring, from one generation to the next, with no restrictions of time and space. The people who dwell in the 58 refugee camps that were established in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon as well as in Judea and Samaria and Gaza, and millions of others who have homes of their own, continued go preserve zealously their refugee card-receiving a free stipend and the chance of future land.
Inculcating the youth with a beggar’s mentality could be written off as an internal Palestinian problem, except that UNRWA never made do with granting relief and decided to branch off into national education. For sixty years now UNRWA has been teaching the Palestinian people with funds from the peoples around the world about the right of return, they promote memorial projects for the old places in Israel and they foster the refugee’s sense of pride, the famous symbol of which is the key.
No where else in the world are there genetic refugees, a genetically-transmitted conflict, courtesy of the UN. Only once a moratorium is placed on this strange tale will it be possible to talk about peace.