The major buzz around here this past week, just before the Jewish New Year (Rosh HaShanah – or Feast of Trumpets) was the excitement, good and bad, over the possible defunding of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) by the United States. This post is intended to provide a background to this matter, which will be followed up by the next post. Since the end of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, efforts have been made by international agencies and governments to “deal with” the so-called “Palestinian refugee” issue. The issue has gathered momentum and has cost tens of billions of dollars and it seemed as though it was impossible to bring it to a peaceful conclusion. But, God, for Whom nothing is impossible, brings light into darkness and exposes the deceptions of the father of lies.
“Alice: There’s no use trying … one can’t believe impossible things.
The Queen: I daresay you haven’t had much practice….When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Lewis Carroll, 1871, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, Chpt. 5)
In the introductory chapter to her classic work, From Time Immemorial (J. KAP Publishing, 1985), Joan Peters stated:
“It was 1974, two and a half decades after the war against Israel’s statehood, with several Arab-Israeli wars since, and these . . . people were still refugees . . . . “Why were the Arab refugeees, unlike refugees on other continents, not yet rehabilitated but still in camps?
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“But the increasingly insistent depiction of the Arab Palestinians as victims of Israel’s existence is difficult to avoid. The high visibility causes nagging doubts. The provoking of doubts is well financed and carefully orchestrated: a mere phone call to request refugee estimates from the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) brings to me, by return mail, not only the requested data, but politically focused brochures and eight giant elegantly printed photographic posters, eloquently and sympathetically depicting Palestinian women and children – ‘Survivors who go on surviving.’ News cameras that once captured ‘terrorist’ Yassert Arafar with his revolvers in the United Nations later find him cuddling infants in the smoking ruins of Lebanon, and still later, as the ‘moderate’ under siege by ‘extremists.'” (Peters, pages 4, 6)
By October, 1948, less than half a year after the establishment of the State of Israel, there was heated debate over the exact number of Arab “refugees” who left Israel. According to the United Nations, the number was estimated to be about 500,000. On December 8, 1949, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 302, establishing an agency under the jurisdiction of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR – whose primary purpose is to resettle and rehabilitate refugees). This agency, UNRWA, was given the unique responsibility to “direct relief and works programs” for the “Palestinian” Arab refugees and for them only. After spending several hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to establish a census, whose purpose was to separate genuine from fraudulent claimants, it finally reported that “it is still not possible to give an absolute figure of the true number of refugees as understood by the working definition of the word.” (Report of the Director, Special Report of Director and Advisory Commission, UNRWA to Sixth Session, General Assemblym UN Document A/1905)
By 1961, the then Agency Director of UNRWA acknowledge that the number of refugees included in the counts by the United Nations, included “other victims of the conflict of 1948”. These were persons neglected by their own, Arab governments, who should not have been included in those considered to be Arab refugees from Israel. “[By] continuing to be unfaithful to its own mandate, UNRWA contributed to further distortion of an already misrepresented and misunderstood refugee situation” (Peters, p. 19)
The Inclusion Clause in Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Refugee Convention provides that a refugee is a person who:
“… owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
However, the UNRWA, for the purpose of its trying to obtain a census of Arab refugees in 1950, defined “refugee” as “a person normally resident in Palestine who had lost his home and his livelihood as a result of the hostilities and who is in need.” This definition was modified by UNRWA to include those people who had lived in “Palestine” a minimum of only two years preceding the 1948 conflict. These definitions differed from that of the 1951 Refugee Convention and further perpetuated the great cloud of unresolved doubt regarding the true number of Arab refugees. But, instead of being absorbed by the Arab nations in and around the Middle East, the matter of the refugees remained a political tool, which exploited and perpetuated the issue of the so-called “Palestinian refugees”. UNRWA played a major role in this matter, allowing the definition of a “Palestinian” refugee to also include the descendants of the original so-called “refugees”, resulting in the multiplying of the numbers of alleged “refugees” by hundreds of percent over the original numbers of 1948, whatever they actually were. So, instead of resettling and rehabilitating so-called “Palestinian refugees”, UNRWA has actually perpetuated their existence . . . and its own, thus furthering, rather than resolving, the “Palestinian refugee” issue. The claim of “refugee” status is based on voluntary information supplied by the individuals who seek to benefit from the services of UNRWA.
Present numbers are estimated to be some 5.5 million refugees. Even if some of these so-called “refugees” became citizens of different countries, they are still treated as “refugees” by UNRWA and eligible for its aid. The “repatriation”, of these alleged “refugees” is one of the major demands of the so-called “Palestinians”. The political structure was and remains well-oiled, well-funded and enables UNRWA to continue its unending goal of providing for the ever-increasing numbers of “Palestinian refugees” – until now. Part Two of this blog post will deal with the present resistance to the continued existence of UNRWA.
It is important to get a perspective of where the billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money have gone over the years. Some of it, unsurprisingly, has ended up in the pockets of the Hamas terrorist organization, many of whose members are openly on the payroll of UNWRA’s full-time staff of some 23,000 people. Despite the almost 70 years since its creation and a present annual budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, getting these so-called “refugees status in different countries is not any closer now than it was back in 1948. UNRWA’s creation was flawed from the outset. It was devoted to one people group and has acted over the last three score and ten years to perpetuate not only the Middle East conflict, but its own existence. The world community has been duped and has been paying a hefty price for the privilege of being used as a financial tool to help prolong a situation that it condemns and wrongfly blames Israel for causing. If you want to know where the problem areas of the world are, follow the money.
The time is long past due for UNRWA’s existence to come to an end and for Arab countries in the Middle East to absorb all of the so-called “Palestinian refugees”, which they have refused to do for the past 70 years. A lie has been perpetrated during all that time. It was repeated over and over again, more and more loudly over the years and is even believed by those who promulgated the lie, to create a great myth – the myth that Israel stole “Palestinian” land. One cannot steal from someone what that someone never owned.
To be continued ….
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said and will He not do it? Or has He spoken and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)
“… God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” (Genesis 50:24)
“[In] a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52)
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessolonians 4:16-17)
May this Feast of Trumpets, which begins tomorrow night, bring with it the sound of the Heavenly Trumpet, that when we hear it, our eyes would see the coming of the Glory of the Lord.
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing,
Have a healthy and joyful Rosh HaShanah.