Many things have happened over the past ten days, significant things that will have long-term implications. The U.S. decided to close the Washington, D.C., office of the PLO, then it expelled the PLO ambassador. An Israeli-American, the father of four, was stabbed to death by a “Palestinian” terrorist in broad daylight. And earlier today, Russian blamed Israel for Syria’s shooting down of a Russian jet, following Israel’s attack on the Syrian port city of Latakia. These and other events happened quickly and each deserves its own space. In addition, the Day of Atonements, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, will begin at sundown tonight and continue until sundown tomorrow. From an official perspective, the country will be in a shut-down mode.
The last post dealt with the background for the establishment of UNRWA and the clear fact that it was devoted exclusively to deal with one class of alleged refugees, with manner of operation that goes contrary to all other relief organizations. Billions of dollars have been poured into this agency by different countries, including the United States, with little or no accountability to those donor countries for how the funds are used.
Even though throughout the years it was widely believed that the U.S. is biased in favor of Israel, the regrettable reality is that the U.S. is not exempt from bearing its share of responsibility for the broad international acceptance of the false “Palestinian” narrative, a narrative that the “Palestinians” repeat at every opportunity to whoever would listen. This false narrative starts with the unfounded and historically inaccurate claim that Israel stole “Palestinian” land and now illegally occupies it. The myth of stealing the land has been repeated so often and so loudly that the lie has filtered down to the generations that have been born sinice 1948, who are willing to die for a lie. Other aspects of the “Palestinian” narrative include, among other things: that as a result of the claim of Israel stealing “Palestinian” land, so-called “Palestinian refugees”, who now number about 5.5 million, have a “right of return” to reclaim that land and that the Jews have no claim to Jerusalem, all of which belongs to the “Palestinians”. Until now, neither the U.S. nor any other democratic country was willing to publicly challenge the “Palestinian” narrative. Attempts by the U.S. to give the appearance of being impartial in the Arab-Israeli conflict have not helped to resolve the conflict. Countries have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the truth, not wanting to upset the Arab oil-producing nations.
Clearly, the time has come for truth telling with regard to the false claims of the “Palestinian” narrative. One of the most important issues that needs to be dealt with is the falsehood regarding the so-called “Palestinian refugees”. It began as, and continues to be, a political tool that UNRWA perpetuates in an effort to justify its own existence (and the money that it receives and disburses) and to keep the narrative alive, as well as keeping a multitude of people in refugee “camps”. Lest we forget, those who can be legitimately be defined as “refugees” number only about fifty thousand today. The rest are descendants of people who have since died. These descendants never lived in Israel and cannot be considered as refugees under the definition of the Refugee Convention, mentioned in Part One of this blog, but who are, nevertheless, considered as refugees by UNRWA. Even if the Arab world would agree to resettle them, grant them citizenship and the opportunity to live normal lives, UNRWA would still consider them to be refugees. This position fans the flames of the modern 70-year-old conflict and only makes it worse. It creates a false hope, that is passed down from generation to generation, that the descendants of the Arabs who left Israel prior to the outbreak of the War of Independence will be able to reclaim the land by force and cleanse it from any Jewish presence. UNRWA does its part in this as well, as can be seen here and here. Every country with half a brain in its diplomatic head recognizes the impossibility of Israel agreeing to repatriate millions of alleged “Palestinian” refugees. Clearly, other alternatives need to replace this part of the “Palestinian'” false narrative.
In all fairness, it should be pointed out that Israel had also been willing to placate the international community and allow the continued existence of UNRWA and its support by the international community, rather than attempt to persuade the world that this agency needs to be revamped or cancelled. However, in June, 2017, Israel finally took a stand and declared that UNRWA should be dismantled. The position, announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was based on the argument that there is a lot of incitement against Israel in some of UNRWA’s institutions and that UNRWA’s work perpetuates the “Palestinian refugee” situation, rather than helps to resolve it. Somewhere along the line, the world seemed to overlook the fact that UNRWA’s teachers union and workers union had both been under the control of Hamas for years before Hamas gained control over the Gaza Strip in 2007 – without a word of opposition by UNRWA. And, while we are dealing with UNRWA’s silence, we should be vocal about the fact that UNRWA did not voice any objection to Hamas using its facilities to teach school children to become involved in the war against Israel, as seen in the above videos. So, it was not surprising that the day finally came when Netanyahu announced, “Therefore, the time has come to dismantle UNRWA and merge its components with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR].” There cannot be any real disagreement with the fact that UNRWA was politicized from the outset and has been used as a tool used by the “Palestinians”, who live under the delusion that Israel would one day agree to commit national, demographic suicide by permitting the country to be flooded by millions of so-called “Palestinian refugees”.
While Netanyahu’s belated call for dismantling UNRWA may have been unrealistic, defunding that organization might ultimately accomplish the same goal. This idea has been given a substantial “push” by the United States, who expressed its intention to defund UNRWA. The decision, announced by U.S. President Donald Trump, mixed diplomacy and business and made the first conditioned on the second. If the “Palestinians” refused to negotiate peace, they would pay the financial penalty for their failure. In this regard, Trump the businessman was still looking to make his “deal of the century” – a deal that would end the Arab-Israeli conflict. This has long been a policy in international relations – if you want money, be willing to participate in the game and play ball.
At the beginning of this year, the issue became more crystallized, with President Trump tweeting: “But with the ‘Palestinians’ no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” Good question! It should have been asked decades ago.
Fast forward to 31 August, 2018. The U.S. State Department announced: “Beyond the budget gap itself and failure to mobilize adequate and appropriate burden sharing, the fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years. The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation.”
The U.S. move to cut funding to UNRWA was welcomed by Israel. Even the head of Israel’s opposition party, Yair Lapid, said that not only does that organization provide “cover to terror”, it also caters to “5.5 million fake refugees … [and] perpetuates the big Palestinian lie” regarding the number of refugees and their non-existent “right of return”.
Obviously, the decision did not warm the cockles of the hearts of the “Palestinian” leadership, who broadly condemned the move. Only a few days prior to the U.S. announcement that it would cut off the funding to UNRWA, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and the main “Palestinian” negotiator in Israeli-“Palestinian” peace talks, responded to another US decision to cut $200 million aid to the “Palestinians”, stating: “The international community is not doing the ‘Palestinians’ a favor by providing them with financial aid. This is a duty of the international community, which bears responsibility for the continued Israeli occupation.” His statement was published on 25 August, 2018, in Arabic in Wafa, the official news site of the “Palestinian” Authority. This is an incredible statement. The “Palestinians” see themselves as being victimized by Israel and blame the international community for allowing it. In their view, the international community is now indebted to the “Palestinians” and, therefore, obligated to provide it with financial support because of the international support of Israel. Talk about ingratitude! It would appear that the “Palestinians” themselves are not aware of all of the anti-Israel resolutions that have been passed by the “supportive” international community.
Nikki Haley, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, has been a thorn in the side of Israeli-bashing countries in the U.N. since her first day in office. In an interview conducted with her on 29 August, 2018, she stated, among other things, that if the countries that receive funds from the U.S. shout “Death to America”, why should the U.S. give them a single penny? She added: “When you look at UNRWA, there’s a couple of issues there. First of all, you’re looking at the fact that … there’s an endless number of refugees that continue to get assistance, but more importantly, the Palestinians continue to bash America. … They have their hand out wanting UNRWA money. We were supposed to give them $130 million. We cut it in half, saying that they really needed to reform and fix the things they were doing, because they teach anti-Israeli and anti-American things in their textbooks. They are not necessarily doing things that would cause peace. They didn’t say thank you (for the money we did give). UNRWA had them protest in the streets that we didn’t give more.”
At last, U.S. leadership that is prepared to stop funding countries – and organizations (like the PLO) that call out “death to America”. This is so incredibly basic. When the recipient bites the hand that feeds him, why has that hand continued to feed? If the answer defies logic, then we need to look for the answer from a different perspective.
Will rich oil-producing Arab countries step in and make up the shortfall in the funding for UNRWA? Time will tell.
“[The] eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
“Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old“ (Lamentations 5:21)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing,
If you choose to fast this Yom Kippur, may it be an easy one for you.