Hamas and UNRWA: joined at the hip

Claudia Rosett, who has been writing stellar articles on the United Nations for years, has another winner at Forbes. com today titled “Gaza Bedfellows UNRWA and Hamas: How they keep each other in business.” I wish I could simply paste the whole thing here, but there’s such a thing as copyright laws. It’s not very long, but it tells the whole story very thoroughly. Here are some choice excerpts; I recommend you read it all if you have any interest in seeing to what disgusting uses our tax money is being put, and how we are helping to fund the people whose mission it is to destroy Israel.

In the current violence of Gaza, we are seeing the fruition of one of the most bizarre creations of modern diplomacy: a UN-supported welfare enclave for terrorists.

Behind this lies a straightforward equation. Gaza, with its 1.5 million people, runs almost entirely on international handouts. The UN ranks it among the top per-capita aid recipients on the planet.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas seized power there, won an election, and consolidated its power by driving out the rival party Fatah.

Since then, Hamas has been running Gaza as a territory reduced to basically two industries: aid and terrorism.

And UNRWA is the enabler.  (Here’s UNRWA’s full name: The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.)

Set up in 1949 with a temporary, three-year mandate to provide aid and jobs for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA has survived for almost 60 years, expanding its scope, budget and influence by extending refugee status to descendants of its beneficiaries.

We’ve posted quite a bit about UNRWA; our 10 posts are here. Here’s a notable statistic from Rosett:

To handle these operations, UNRWA employs more than 24,000 staffers. That’s more than any other UN agency, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, which with some 6,300 staffers–about one-quarter the manpower of UNRWA–is responsible for all other refugees worldwide, totaling more than 11 million.  [There are about 4.6 million Palestinian refugees.]

And 99 percent of UNRWA’s staff are local Palestinians. So the agency represents the agenda of the governments of the countries where the Palestinian “refugees” live rather than that of the UN or of the donor nations (though often it’s hard to tell the UN agenda from that of the Arab governments anyway).  In Gaza, the government is the terrorist group Hamas. Therefore:

Since late December, when Israel began its campaign to end the thousands of rocket and mortar attacks launched by Hamas from Gaza, UNRWA officials have given a parade of briefings via UN headquarters in New York.

Teleconferencing in, they have ignored what UNRWA Commissioner General Karen Koning Abuzayd has described as their “nonpolitical” mandate. With Abuzayd in the lead, they have detailed their outrage on behalf of the Palestinians, excoriated Israel and stepped further into the political arena to demand an immediate ceasefire–something these same UNRWA officials did not do when the attacks were one-way out of Gaza into Israel.

…And while blaming Israel, UNRWA officials also have plenty of incentive to present the worst possible picture. The greater the perceived distress, the better the prospects not only for immediate relief, but for future fundraising.

And oh, how the world has responded! I posted on January 1 about the U.S.’s response — $85 million for Gaza and UNRWA. I quoted the State Department’s press release:

The United States is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor, and contributed $184.68 million to UNRWA towards its 2008 Appeals, including $99.87 million for UNRWA’s General Fund and $84.81 million for its emergency appeals for Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. The United States plans to provide additional funding for UNRWA’s 2009 appeals in the future.

Rosett next goes into how the aid money is spent. This is an area of “deep murk,” she says. UNRWA is supposed to check for terrorists in hiring their staff, but it is unclear that they actually do.

For years, various U.S. lawmakers, including the late Congressman Tom Lantos, have tried introducing bills asking for genuine transparency and accountability from UNRWA–which has never been subject to a genuinely independent external audit.

Such efforts have gained no traction, opposed by a UN that even under the most benign circumstances is hostile to opening its books, plus a U.S. State Department that prefers to close its eyes and shovel millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars into terrorist-controlled infrastructure.

Legislators have pointed out that UNRWA ambulances and schools have been shown to aid terrorism, and named UNRWA staffers who are known to be involved in terrorism.  But no resolution has been passed in Congress.

Rosett’s summary of UNRWA’s role is spot-on:

In pushing for an ever-bigger dole and in using the UN stage as a megaphone to help elicit sympathy, drum up funds, denounce Israel and drape in UN baby blue the interests and demands of the Iranian-backed terrorists of Hamas, they do a terrible disservice not only to the cause of world peace, but to the prospects of the Palestinians themselves for forsaking terror and building better lives.

UNRWA does a double disservice. In their support, tacit and overt, of terrorism they prevent any movement toward peace, as Rosett says. And in addition, by keeping Palestinians dependent on aid from outside, which is contingent on their retaining their refugee status, they are preventing millions of people from becoming independent, normal human beings. The Palestinians can focus on terrorism and their hatred of Jews and Israel so intensely because they don’t have to work for a living. They don’t have to build an economy. They have no responsibilities; they are like rebellious teenagers whose rich father will always bail them out. But the stakes are far higher.

By this time, after decades of dependency, and schooled from earliest childhood in hatred and bitterness, these “refugees” may not be able to grow into adulthood. They are emotionally and intellectually crippled. Somehow this terrible situation has to be brought to an end.

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