November 7, 2019

Jewish NGOs Call UNRWA to Account 

Representatives of the International Council of Jewish Women and other Jewish NGOs at the United Nations are demanding that donor nations attach conditions to the renewal of the mandate of UNRWA, the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency.

The UN General Assembly will be debating the renewal of UNRWA’s mandate on Friday November 15, 2019. A coalition of Jewish NGOs ( including the International Council of Jewish Women and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is lobbying governments to attach conditions to tighten supervision of UNRWA and its staff, with specific focus on:

  1. Financial mismanagement, including funding terrorism in Gaza
  2. Anti-Israel rhetoric in textbooks used in UNRWA schools
  3. Incitement of jihadi terrorism in its schools and institutions
  4. Trafficking of Palestinian women for prostitution

UNRWA’s mandate must be renewed by the UN every 3 years, but the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland have suspended their funding of the agency in protest at reports that senior UNRWA officials are engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain.”

The ReformUNRWA campaign is based on research carried out by the Center for Near East Policy Research into the content of school books issued by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education and used by 321,000 students in UNRWA-run schools. They believe that “The Path to Peace begins in the Classroom”, because unless today’s children are taught not to hate Israel, there will be no chance for peace in the Middle East for another 25 years.

The leader of the Reform UNRWA campaign, Dr. Joan Lurie Goldberg from ICJW, is visiting Israel next week (November 10-14) to meet with people who are concerned about UNRWA’s influence over Palestinian children. She will also be investigating reports that UNRWA personnel are involved in the trafficking of Palestinian women for sex work in brothels in Rawabi, East Jerusalem and Gaza City. (ICJW has campaigned to end international human trafficking since its formation in Europe in 1910.)

The International Council of Jewish Women ( is an umbrella organization which has members and affiliated Jewish women’s organizations in 35 countries around the world. It represents all Jewish women worldwide at the United Nations, the Council of Europe and other important international forums. ICJW is proud to have consultative status as a non-governmental organization (NGO) with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations, and maintains permanent delegations in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Paris.

For more information and to arrange interviews with Dr. Joan Lurie Goldberg during her visit to Israel, please contact or call Sarah Manning on 054-747-9192.