On June 28th, 2021, The Jewish News Service confirmed that the US has asked Israel to work with UNRWA to rehabilitate Gaza.
Yet the seeming absurdity of a suggestion that Israel should work with UNRWA to rehabilitate Gaza defies facts on the ground ; UNRWA in Gaza has been taken over completely by a terrorist organization – Hamas.
Moreover, 82% of the people of Gaza – 1.7 million persons – now dwell in eleven “temporary” UNRWA camps in Gaza established for refugees of the 1948 war.
There is no question in anyone’s mind that the attacks which Israel endured from Gaza during the month of May were orchestrated by Hamas , an affiliate of the Islamic Brotherhood, defined by the US, Canada, the UK, the EU, Israel and Australia as a terrorist organization.
The Hamas connection to UNRWA is obvious and understated.
For the past 28 years, the UNRWA Teachers Association and UNRWA Workers Association have been controlled by Hamas.
The European Parliament, expressing its concern over the increasing influence of Hamas, financed a study of the 2009 UNRWA union elections. In those elections, 90% of the votes for the UNRWA Teachers Association and Workers Union went to a Hamas slate of candidates, placing the UNRWA economy and UNRWA schools firmly in the hands of Hamas ever since.
Most recently, following the Gaza-Israel eleven-day war during May, 2021, funds flowed to UNRWA and to the Gaza economy from nations around the world who wanted to address the humanitarian crisis faced by the people of Gaza, with close attention paid to the plight of children under fire and to their education.
Tragically, the one program that Hamas and UNRWA have worked on together during Spring 2021 months was a massive weapons training summer camp. In this camp, Hamas recruited 10,000 children (from age 9!) from UNRWA schools to teach them how to fire weapons and missiles in the next round of fighting.
Full disclosure: The Bedein Center for Near East Policy Center dispatched a TV crew to film the Hamas munitions summer camp for UNRWA students, to produce a film in three languages for parliaments of the three leading donors to UNRWA: Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Why will there be a next round? The openly stated purpose of UNRWA education – whose school books are published by the Palestine Liberation Organization – remains: “the right of return” by force of arms to Arab villages that existed before 1948.
A UN agency does not have to behave this way. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – UNHCR – has successfully helped tens of millions of refugees worldwide rehabilitate their lives. UNRWA could be converted into a similarly normative United Nations agency if it focused on building better lives for the people of Gaza.
Because UNRWA in Gaza has been co-opted by terrorist organizations, Palestinians under UNRWA’s care are relegated to a refugee life for perpetuity, raising a fourth generation in frustration that they cannot return to villages that existed before 1948.
Thanks to the rule of Hamas and to the influence of the Palestine Liberation Organization, nations that wish to extend a hand to the people of Gaza must circumvent UNRWA’s current policy which allows terror groups that dominate the Gazans and dupe them into believing that they can build their lives based on a goal that can never be achieved.
What can be done to make sure that funds of UNRWA donor nations will help the people of Gaza?
Have brought our staff of UNRWA experts to raise this concern on six different occaisions with the staff of UN secretary Secretary-General António Guterres’
The answer communicated six times from UN Secretary-General Guterres:
“Work with the donor nations of UNRWA- they bear full responsibility..”
Writing as a social work professional, the time has come for UNRWA donor nations to foster a professional social work system based on needs assessment, peace education and rehabiliation for the peopke Gaza, instead of forcing Gazans to endure another generation of refugee life for perpetuity, which is none other than a prescription for indignity, frustration and violence.
As a first step in the right direction, US President Biden issued an uprecedented policy statement on June 11,2021, to mandate new US policies that condition US aid to UNRWA on a reform and an end to incitement.
In the words of Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “The fact that Secretary of State Blinken will be required to report to US Congressional Committees– prior to the release of funds for the UN agency– that UNRWA is ‘taking steps to ensure the content of all educational materials currently taught in UNRWA-administered schools and summer camps is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity, and tolerance and does not induce incitement. “As the meticulous and exhaustive research of UNRWA policies and curricula by historian Dr. Arnon Gross and longtime advocate David Bedein have shown, UNWRA education– far from being an advocate for peace– does not recognize the State of Israel and lauds Palestinian terrorists who mass murder Israelis. It comes down to this: Children are taught to hate and UNRWA, for decades and until this day is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The US has committed itself to force them to change course.”