UNRWA and the Guardian: Perpetuating “Man-Made” Palestinian Misery

There was something rich about UNRWA spokesperson Chris Guinness’ comment about unemployment in Gaza, (“Gaza jobless rate at 45% five years after full blockade imposed“, Guardian/Reuters, June 14):

“It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution.”

While he was speaking of the alleged injurious economic effects of Israel’s blockade, designed to slow the flow of deadly weapons into Gaza (more than 6,000 rockets and mortars have been fired by Hamas into Israel since 2006), and was characteristically silent on Hamas’s role in creating the conditions by which such defensive measures were necessary, his use of the term “man-made” was especially interesting.  

Indeed, the idea of “man-made” misery would be more apt in describing his own organization’s role in perpetuating the plight of Palestinian “refugees” by continuing to prevent their assimilation into the Arab countries where they reside – UNWRA’s “man-made” policy which “impoverishes so many”.

Unlike all other refugee groups since 1948 (hundreds of millions were refugees as a result of WWII alone), including the 900,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands (and their descendants), only Palestinian Arabs and their descendants are funded, generation after generation, in UNRWA funded and administered towns in SyriaJordan, Lebanon and the PA.  

Exploited and discriminated against by their host Arab countries, they have been denied the opportunity to lead normal lives, and resettle.

Further, as research by NGO Monitor has demonstrated, the aid which UNRWA (generously funded by the EU) provides such “refugees” not only perpetuates generation after generation of dependency, but “UNRWA schools and other facilities are often used to teach hatred and encourage incitement; [and] the evidence demonstrates that UNRWA staff allowed terror related activities in its camps.”

Anyone truly concerned about the suffering of Palestinians would be lobbying Arab governments to immediately grant citizenship and full civil rights to their Palestinian populations, and use some of their Petrodollars to begin building schools and permanent housing for these “refugees” –  granting them the opportunity to become productive and creative citizens.

To fully understand the inversion of reality necessary to believe in UNRWA’s refugee swindle, you need to take note of the following passage, about unemployment figures in Gaza, from the Reuters/Guardian piece:

“These are disturbing trends,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, “and the refugees, who make up two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million population, were the worst hit.” [emphasis mine]

Get it? Even Palestinians living in a sovereign, independent Palestinian-controlled and governed country are considered “refugees”!

At what point – other than by an unlimited Palestinian “right of return” into an Israeli state most have never lived or stepped foot in – will their refugee status end?      

More pointedly, at what point will governments who continue to pump cash into UNRWA realize that they’re participating in a massive fraud – the continuation of a program which “…impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution”?

17 replies »

  1. Totally agree with this analysis but the report made much of the Israeli limitation of exports. The only explanation for this policy is to ‘pressurise’ Hamas. Pressurise them to do what? Love Jews?

    I am not sure that this policy serves any purpose anymore other than to fuel anti-Israel mania and give flotillas excuses for attacking Israelis. It also weakens the very points being made here with reference to perpetuating victimhood and dependancy on aid which is as morally obnoxious as it is absurd.

    Maybe others have a different view. I’d be interested to hear the justifications because I may have to use them myself to defend Israel.

  2. Arguments aside (and I certainly don’t agree with the tone and perspective of this article), it is not right for someone in his position to use such loaded vocabulary as in the accusation that Israel “deliberately impoverishes” people in Gaza.

    But as Ray Cook points out: what is the overall plan behind the blockade? Is this really a productive policy in the long term?

  3. There is an interesting attempt on Ynet by the UNRWA spokesperson whitewashing their activity and organisation. The article very cautiously avoids to mention any fact but it is full of empty slogans and false comparisons. A must read for everyone – the piece is a real textbook example of the working of the UN burocracy and its fight for keeping their very well paid jobs.

  4. I suppose we should not forget that UNRWA’s mandate is up for review at the UN GA on June 30th 2011. Could this report – compiled by an UNRWA consultant – possibly have anything to do with that? And how does it square up against the World Bank’s reports which tell us that so much positive progress has been made under Fayyad that the Palestinians are ready for a state?

    Sencar – Gaza exports flowers, strawberries cherry tomatoes and other agricultural produce via Israel. The amounts of produce could have been much greater and the number of people employed in that sector could have been much higher had the Gazans not chosen to destroy the technologically advanced greenhouses which were left intact when Israel disengaged from the Gaza strip 6 years ago.

    Unfortunately, caution is still required because there are some who have taken advantage of that fact to commit terror attacks.

    In addition, Palestinian terrorists have frequently targeted the border crossings through which goods are imported and exported.

    It’s really very simple: despite the rulers of Gaza being at war with Israel, if there is calm, the border crossings are open. If there are terror attacks they are not. The choice is in the hands of Hamas. If they cared about their voters’ welfare, they could have made Gaza into a Singapore-type success after August 2005, but that was not what they opted for. If the people of Gaza are suffering, it is because of their government.

    • As I said Gaza can’t operate industry on any scale or export manufactured goods (sorry, I forgot about the cherry tomatoes.

      • How come then there are luxury hotels, apartment blocks, shopping malls, etc? Are they built on UNRWA money sencar?

    • “It’s really very simple: despite the rulers of Gaza being at war with Israel, if there is calm, the border crossings are open. If there are terror attacks they are not.”

      This is simply a lie. The Israeli government knew weeks before Cast Lead that rocket attacks would stop if the crossings were opened. They chose to try to crush Hamas, as much for reasons of military machismo as for anything to do with security.
      I sometimes wonder how you people can continue to believe lies like this. Try doing the research.

      • Sencar – as much as you are obviously trying to pretend otherwise, the rockets came before the border closures – not the other way round.

        It may well be par for the course for Hamas apologists like yourself to convince themselves that Hamas fires rockets and mortars at Israeli civilian populations simply because they’re having trouble exporting their strawberries, but the rest of us aren’t so brainwashed as to swallow that.

        It is extraordinary that people such as yourself apparently think that Israel should be obliged to keep open a border with an enemy statelet – the government of which regularly expresses in both words and deeds its intention to annihilate Israel. It is amazing that you appear to think that Israelis should voluntarily put themselves at risk from suicide bombers and Iranian-made missiles in order to facilitate trade for another nation whose leaders obviously do not care a jot about their citizens’ standard of living. Would you demand the same of any other nation, or are there double standards at play here? Why do you apparently have nothing to say about the former closure of the Egyptian/Gaza border?

        Cast Lead had nothing to do with ‘military machismo’ and everything to do with Israeli civilians unable to lead normal lives because they were being attacked day in and day out with lethal weapons. Thousands of them. Like any government, the Israeli one has a responsibility to protect its citizens.

        • The problem with people like Sencar is that they have to remember precisely which lie they told about Israel previously. It gets so complicated sometimes. I suppose it’s better for them to stick to ‘Israel dunnit’ and not to go into detail.

        • There is a very simple way to end the blockade and open the border – Gaza must declare in words and action that it will cease firing rockets into Israel. If the Flotilla activists really wanted to relieve the discomfort of Gaza citizens, they would have confronted Gaza citizens with the hard truth: that the price Gaza pays for working towards Israel’s destruction rather than its own development is its faltering economy and the embargo.

          • Sorry, but this is a little naive. There was a six month ceasefire agreed in June 2008. Between July and October virtually no rockets were fired. A handful came from minority militant groups but Hamas took significant steps to stop these as well as maintaining its own ceasefire. Israel broke the ceasefire on 4 November by launching a raid into Gaza and killing six Hamas members. Hamas then resumed its rockets and Israel had its excuse to start Cast Lead. Hamas has said many times that it will honour further ceasefires, agree Palestinian borders based on 1967 lines and accept the de facto existence of Israel for a period of decades. All this before any negotiations; but of course Israel refuses to talk to Hamas, preferring land to peace and retaining the option of Cast Lead II.

  5. “It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution.”

    So why is Egypt doing it I wonder?