In what arguably represents one of the defining examples of their alternate reality when analyzing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, the Guardian has been running a series of posts highlighting the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, including the following report by their Jerusalem correspondent on the ‘best bits’ of the UN.
Yes, that’s right. UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) represents, to Beaumont, the ‘best’ of the UN!
As we’ve demonstrated in multiple posts, the opposite closer to the truth. In perpetuating the “refugee” problem for decades, no one single international agency has done greater harm to the search for peace in the Middle East.
Beaumont’s deception begins in the first few passages:
Unique among the main UN organisations, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency was set up to deal with what was then regarded as a temporary refugee problem, and an individual one at that: the plight of Palestinian refugees.
Established in 1949 the body was mandated to carry out relief and works programmes supporting about 750,000 Palestinians who had fled their homes in the conflict, which was triggered by the establishment of the state of Israel.
Of course, what “triggered” the refugee problem was not Israel’s creation in 1948, but the Arab war against the nascent Jewish state. If the Arabs had agreed to compromise and accepted Israel into the region, rather than launching a war of annihilation, there wouldn’t have been even one Palestinian refugee.
Beaumont then uncritically cites the bizarre UNWRA definition of a Palestinian refugee:
By 1965 the UNRWA’s definition of whom it would serve had been changed, first, to the third generation of refugees – born after 14 May 1948 – and by 1982 to all generations of descendants, totalling upwards of 5 million people.
Though Beaumont later notes criticism from “Israeli political figures and pro-Israeli commentators” that UNRWA perpetuates the refugee problem, he writes nothing to indicate that the arguments of such “critics” have merit. As Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini noted on these pages, the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which deals with all the world’s non-Palestinian refugees, has somehow taken care of fifty million people. Unlike with UNRWA, they received initial help and they are not refugees.
UNRWA’s expansive definition of who qualifies for “refugee” benefits – which includes the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Arabs who may have once lived in Mandate Palestine – means that 99% of their clients are NOT in fact refugees. Under UNRWA’s bizarre rules, even Palestinians who are now citizens of other Arab states – such as Jordan – are still considered “refugees“.
Beaumont then praises the ‘social services” provided by UNRWA.
The agency’s main task is to maintain and provide services – including education and healthcare and relief during times of conflict – in the large network of camps, the most substantial of which are in Gaza. In particular UNRWA schools educate 500,000 pupils across the region.
The UNRWA has faced criticism from Israeli political figures and pro-Israeli commentators over a number of issues, most significantly….over issues of neutrality.
However, as blogger Elder of Ziyon has documented, countless UNRWA teachers and school officials promote antisemitism and celebrate terror. These posts reveal literally dozens of examples of jihadist, antisemitic and even pro-Hitler comments by UNRWA employees.
As far as violations of “neutrality”, Beaumont fails to mention proven examples (some even cited by the Guardian) of Gaza terrorists, during last summer’s war, hiding rockets and other weapons in UNRWA schools. In a subsequent passage, Beaumont even falsely suggests that Israel intentionally “targeted” UNRWA facilities during the war, while failing to acknowledge that terrorists fired rockets from near those same UNRWA facilities or, likely, directly from some of these facilities.
Near the end of his piece, Beaumont refers to the blockade.
In Gaza, the agency says, the long-term effects of the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade have seen those going to the UNRWA for food assistance rise from 80,000 in the year 2000 to 860,000.
Beaumont neglects to note that the Egyptian blockade if far more severe than the Israeli blockade. Indeed, Israel has no restrictions on food or other purely humanitarian supplies sent to Gaza, even during wartime. All that’s restricted are weapons and dual use items – items which can be used for terrorist activity by Hamas and other violent groups. In fact, the word “Hamas” doesn’t appear at all in Beaumont’s 440 word article.
Of course, the omission of Hamas – or even the hint, in any context, that Palestinian “refugees” possess moral agency, and are at least partly responsible for their situation – is emblematic of the Guardian’s coverage of the region.
In some ways, it makes perfect sense that Beaumont would be celebrating UNRWA. The agency is the institutional embodiment of liberal racism, the insistence on infantilizing “oppressed groups” so that they are never held responsible for their own destructive and self-defeating behavior – thus ensuring a constant need for Western aid and other manifestations of faux liberal ‘benevolence’.