This is a call to action, and you won't find a lot of those in this blog. It's time to raise awareness around the world to the nature of this organization and its actions. It's time everybody knew the difference between what this body claims to do and what it actually does.
It has nothing to do with your political persuasion. Whether you're 'left' or 'right', pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian, pro-Two-State-Solution or pro-One-State-Solution.
It's time for everyone to unite and call to shut down UNRWA!
Make no mistake, this call is not only because of the recent developments. It's not only because of the suspicion that the Hamas mortar that killed a 4-year-old boy on Friday, was fired from an UNRWA school. It's not only because of the fact that terror rockets were found on three different occasions in UNRWA schools in Gaza. It's not only because UNRWA returned the missiles to the "local authorities" - i.e. Hamas terrorists on at least one of the occasions. Make no mistake, these developments are horrific, and could certainly be enough to make such a call, or at least a call to launch a serious investigation into UNRWA and its conduct. But the reasons to shut down this corrupt facility go way deeper than that.
UNRWA - United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or as their logo states in short, the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees, and The UNHCR - The United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees, or as their logo states in short, The UN Refugee Agency, were created roughly at the same time and, you'd think, for the same reasons.
Notice any difference?
The difference, however, is not only in the logo and the tagline. Lets see what the agencies tell us about themselves in their own websites!
UNHCR mandate: "The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide."
UNRWA mandate: "We provide assistance and protection for some 5 million registered Palestine refugees to help them achieve their full potential in human development."
UNHCR statement of purpose: "Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country."
UNRWA statement of purpose: "The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict."
UNHCR defines refugees through the legislation of the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention: "a refugee is a person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail him — or herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution." They also add that: "A person may no longer be a refugee when the basis for his or her refugee status ceases to exist. This may occur when, for example, refugees voluntary repatriate to their home countries once the situation there permits such return. It may also occur when refugees integrate or become naturalized in their host countries and stay permanently."
UNRWA has its own, unique definition, as it proudly states: "UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration."
UNHCR in figures: Around 8,600 employees, dealing with some 34 million refugees worldwide.
UNRWA in figures: More than 30,000 employees, only some 200 of them are not "Palestinian refugees" themselves, dealing with some 5 million "Palestine refugees".
UNHCR achievements: "In more than six decades, the agency has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives."
UNRWA achievements: "When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services."
UNHCR (left) and UNRWA. More than a cosmetic difference.
There are two kinds of refugees in the world: "Palestine refugees" and all other refugees. One agency is busy resettling refugees, another simply "takes care of them". One agency solves refugee problems, another perpetuates them.
One group of refugees are the immediate individuals in need, another group passes their "refugee status" on to their children, grand children and grand-grand children. One group of refugees has to prove it was driven outside of their country of nationality or habitual residence, another has only to prove they resided in British Palestine for two years before the war (sorry, "indigenous Palestinian people" enthusiasts!). One group of refugees is dependant on objective criteria, another group is not dependant on anyhting at all. For example, it can have multi-millionaire "refugees", "refugees" who are already citizens of third countries, etc. One group seeks to get rid of its refugee status, another group seeks to join in by all means.
Unbelievable? Mind-blowing? Disturbing? Sickening? All of the above?
You're goddamn right!
After all it's not every day you get undeniable proof of UN's double standards, hypocrisy, basic disregard of its own legislation and of any human decency whatsoever in its regard to the Israeli-Arab conflict directly from the horse's mouth!
So how did it ever come to this? How was UNRWA established? Why did "about 750,000 Palestine refugees" (a figure totally disproven) need a unique agency, with unique criteria all for themselves in a sea of tens of millions of refugees just like them?
When the attack of five Arab armies on the newly reborn state of Israel, with the stated purpose of "driving the Jews into the sea", surprisingly failed, some 609,071 Arab residents of British Palestine became refugees. Some were driven out by the winners, most escaped voluntarily, guided by the Arab promise of a quick triumph, after which they could return home, despite the Jewish leadership pleading them to stay and live side by side. Arab leadership insisted they leave, and after they've lost - surprise, surprise! - no place was found for them in the neighboring Arab countries. Instead of incorporating them in their countries they came up with the "Right of Return" for the Arab refugees of Palestine, which is in fact a Demand of Return, because no such "right" actually exists in international practice, no such precedent ever took place, no group of refugees nowhere in the world was ever eligible for such a "right".
Also, if we take into consideration some 800,000 Jewish refugees (around 200,000 more than the Arab ones) who were expelled from their (actual) ancestral homes in their Arab countries, following the Arab defeat in the War of Independence, who were incorporated in Israel as equal citizens, we get a simple population exchange. Yes, a sad practice. Yes, losing a home is always tragic. But, sadly, a common practice in the post WWII world, with more than 50 million people undergoing population exchange, as many new nation states were created. But, instead of acknowledging all this, the creation of UNRWA was pedalled. And voila! Whatever good and honest intention there might have been to the (initially temporary body) in the beginning, is long gone more than 60 years later.
Today there are roughly 8 times more people dependant on UNRWA than in 1950. 8 times more people still live in misery and want, unaccepted by their fellow Arab countries, unintegrated in their fellow Arab societies, living in conditions of true Apartheid (unlike the made-up, non-existent Israeli one). No one ever, in more then 60 years, lost his eligibility for UNRWA aid. The UNRWA register is filled with deceased individuals, "refugees" who in the meantime recieved citizenship elsewhere, grand children of refugees Why? To serve a weapon against the Jewish state, a means to vilify Israel at the cynical expense of their fellow Arabs. Since the original mandate (dealing with 1949 refugees) is no longer relevant in any way, UNRWA's mandate has developed and became more and more abstract to incorporate more and more fields, and employ more and more people. Now, this monster of corruption exists simply to keep existing and provide paychecks to its vast staff from the international community donations.
When you try to sit down and look at the current events, and try to figure out why no solution seems to work, you have to go back to the beginning. And UNRWA was there at the biginning, part of the original sin, that perpetuates the conflict and the "Palestine refugee" status. UNRWA is nothing but an obstacle to peace.
So, if you're pro-Palestinian, if you believe Palestinian refugees deserve the same human rights as everyone else on the planet, you must spread the word of the real nature of UNRWA. Talk about UNRWA, post about UNRWA, share information about UNRWA, use hashtag #ShutDownUNRWA on social media.
If you're ever serious about peace in the Middle East in our times, if you're ever serious about solving the Israeli-Arab conflict - UNRWA must go!
And just in case you're thinking, "sure, UNRWA perpetuates the problem, but it's also a legit, objective, non-aligned, humanitarian organization", then stay tuned for more coming up soon, as we'll explore some of UNRWA's recent activities and "achievements"!
Keep using those brains!