The Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) was the venue on 20 December 2015 for an important forum devoted to learning exactly what goes on behind the scenes at the UN agency tasked with looking after Palestinian Arab refugees.
Specifically under the spotlight was the subject of how the curricula used in UNRWA schools educates students to prepare for war and terror rather than peace and coexistence. Hosted by MK Bezalel Smotrich and chaired by David Bedein, Director of The Center for Near East Policy Research, this forum featured three well known specialists.
Dr. Arnon Groiss, a member of the Advisory Council on Israeli-Palestinian schoolbook research project, has translated and evaluated the UNRWA curriculum over several years. He spoke about the subject of “the right of return and the armed struggle” as it is taught in UNRWA schools. A short you tube clip explains the fundamental situation existing today:
Bassem Eid, Palestinian Human Rights expert who recently visited Australia and New Zealand, spoke about his own life experiences. Growing up originally in an UNRWA refugee camp and subsequently being involved in human rights activities, he is uniquely positioned to throw a spotlight on the scandalous situation which exists at present. His revelations about corruption in the PA, lack of donor transparency and the urgent need to resettle refugees who have been languishing since 1948, was an eye opener for those attending the forum. This you tube clip recorded in Auckland, NZ, during his visit there covers this and other related topics.
Journalist, Adi Schwartz who is the co-author , with retired MK Einat Wilf of a forthcoming study entitled “UNRWA policies and the plight of the Arab refugees”, gave a comprehensive summary of the history surrounding the creation of the refugee problem, its subsequent manipulation by the UN and the current ongoing situation. This link outlines the subject:
MK Bezalel Smotrich outlined the current situation and observed that the time was long overdue for URWA to be held to account.
There is no doubt that the visual evidence shown and the personal testimonies of the experts, made a deep impression on those attending this briefing. Representatives of the diplomatic community present included those from Japan, Ghana, Cameroon, South Korea, Ethiopia, Canada, Slovakia and Norway. Notable absences were the USA, UK, France, Australia and various Scandinavian countries.
Was it a case of major donor nations to UNRWA being otherwise occupied or did they not want to be confused by awkward facts? Also absent was a representative from UNRWA itself. Although they had been invited to participate in a dialogue they stayed away.
One thing is crystal clear. The use of UNRWA facilities to educate the next generation for war and terror is not acceptable. At long last the subject is being raised by Israel at the UN. One hopes that after 67 years, donor nations will finally demand total accountability and change as a condition for pouring millions of taxpayers’ money into the coffers of an organization which tolerates and perpetuates rather than solves the festering Arab refugee situation.