Dissolve the UNRWA is the title of an article on FrontPage Magazine today by Joseph Puder. UNRWA stands for United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and its sole responsibility is the Palestinian “refugees.” There are many reasons to put “refugees” in quotation marks; one is that alone among all agencies, UNRWA counts as refugees all descendants of those who were originally defined as refugees after the founding of Israel. That is why from the original 5-700,000 Palestinian Arab refugees there are now many millions.
We’ve posted on UNRWA and the Palestinians many times. The agency is a hotbed of terrorism, with the great majority of its employees members of Hamas, and diligently funneling much of the aid money it receives directly to Hamas, which uses it to buy weapons. Instead of doing what refugee agencies are supposed to do — resettle refugees — it is devoted to perpetuating the refugee status, and the misery, of the Palestinians under its care, as a way to put pressure on Israel through the media, who almost always report only on the pathetic conditions of the “refugees” without giving any context or the reasons that they are in that condition.
Puder’s article discusses the dramaic contrast between the agency in charge of the post-WWII refugees and UNRWA:
Prior to the creation of UNRWA, the allies organized the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1943. True to its mission, UNRRA provided relief as quickly as possible and ably rehabilitated millions of World War II refugees; then having accomplished their goals, they were disbanded.
….UNRRA was created in November 1943, at a White House conference attended by 44 nations. Its mission was to provide economic assistance to European nations after WWII, and to repatriate and assist refugees who had come under allied control. The U.S. government funded almost half of the UNRRA budget. UNRRA assisted in the repatriation of millions of refugees in 1945, and managed hundreds of Displaced Persons camps in Germany, Italy, and Austria. UNRRA provided health and welfare assistance to the DP’s as well as vocational training.
Voluntary Jewish welfare agencies such as the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training), and HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) which operated in the DP camps had as its aim normalizing the lives of the refugees and assisting them in finding permanent homes throughout the world, especially Israel, and the U.S.
By 1947, UNRRA completed its mission as millions of Holocaust survivors and non-Jewish slave laborers from throughout Europe, who were pressed into service by the Nazi military machine, were settled.
Then, its mission accomplished, it disbanded. I would add that many more people were resettled after WWII in population exchanges among European countries. They were not considered refugees because their destination countries were not in question.
We’ve made similar recommendations to Puder’s. Here’s what he concludes:
The U.S. and western governments have allowed UNRWA to continue perpetuating a problem that should have been resolved decades ago and have been remiss in not demanding from the Palestinian Authority (a recipient of U.S. and E.U aid) their assistance in demolishing the refugee camps and providing their people with permanent housing, jobs and health care.
…. The time has come to dissolve UNRWA and unburden the U.S. taxpayers of this failed U.N. agency. The UNHCR, a less politicized and far more effective organization should take over some of UNRWA’s functions, while other functions should be assigned to the Palestinian Authority (PA). It is also high time that the U.S. and its Western allies stop coddling the PA by providing it with millions in aid without accountability (much of the aid is funneled into accounts that are used to pay terrorist gangs) and the responsibility to take care of their own unfortunate people.
We’ve also mentioned the idea of pressuring the neighboring Arab states to take in the Palestinians, as Israel took in close to a million Jewish refugees forced out of Arab countries at Israel’s founding. But strangely, other countries don’t want the Palestinians. In fact, in 1971 Jordan kicked out thousands of Palestinians and killed thousands more. So it’s up to the UN to stop this absurd and dangerous state of affairs. I’m not holding my breath. Meanwhile, if we had a government with any sense, we would stop our aid to UNRWA. But I’m not holding my breath on that either.