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Dissolve the UNRWA

by Joseph Puder Thursday, May. 07, 2009 at 8:25 AM

In this difficult economic climate, as American citizens are seeking ways to cut costs, the U.S. government must consider ways to eliminate waste. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is not only a wasteful expenditure but, unbeknownst to most U.S. taxpayers, this U.S.-funded agency serves as an incubator for Arab-Palestinian terrorists. In the 60 years of its existence, UNRWA has done little to rehabilitate and settle the Palestinian-Arab refugees and much to foster incitement, hate, and terror against Israel.

The dominant position held by the 57 members of Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in the United Nations has enabled the Palestinian-Arabs “refugees” to receive special treatment that no other group of refugees was ever granted. Other refugees from throughout the world, numbering in the millions, have been resettled and others are currently served by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) with that intention. However, hte UNRWA was specifically designated to deal with the Palestinian Arab issue and has, in the intervening years served to accommodate the political designs of the Arab League and unelected Palestinian leaders.

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. While UNRRA was strictly a humanitarian enterprise intended to assist individual refugee families, UNRWA has, in 60 years, morphed into a political machine disguised as a relief organization, one that perpetuates the misery of the Palestinian refugees as a propaganda tool for the Arab world. Moreover, UNRWA has been allowed to expand its bureaucracy and budget. In 2007 UNRWA’s budget was 7.1 million, with the U.S. contributing 4.15 million or 31.6% of the total.

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.

UNRRA dealt with difficult refugee cases, including those Jews who had barely survived in Nazi German labor and death camps in Poland, Germany and Austria, those who survived the Siberian labor camps in Stalin’s Soviet Union, as well as those Europeans who were dislocated under Nazi occupation. Many of the Palestinian Arabs, by contrast, became refugees by having willfully fled their homes in what would become Israel. They were asked by the neighboring Arab states to temporarily evacuate their homes until the Arab armies wiped out the Jewish state. The evacuated “refugees” were promised the properties of the defeated Jews. Of note is that the definition of refugee was adjusted in the case of Palestinian Arabs to those who had lived in Palestine for two years or more. This definition did not apply to any of the millions of other refugees worldwide.

When the UN General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949, it was expected to be a temporary relief effort to help the dislocated Palestinian Arabs. The refugees were considered by many outsiders as an easy refugee crisis to solve inasmuch as the neighboring Arab states shared their language (Arabic), culture, and religion. Palestinian Arabs who found themselves stranded as refugees in Arab held parts of then-Palestine (West Bank and Gaza) and in the neighboring Arab states numbered about 500,000-700,000. Simultaneously, the number of Jews (850,000) who were expelled or fled from the Arab states, scared off by government initiated pogroms, clearly exceeded that of the Palestinian Arabs.

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.

It is beguiling to think that UNRRA discharged its responsibilities to millions of hardcore refugees within two-years, while UNRWA has been able to stretch its mission for 60 years, and it considers as refugees third- and fourth-generation descendents of the original refugees. UNRWA’s budget has manifestly increased to meet an increase in the alleged camp population (dead people are carried in UNRWA’s books as living recipients) that has swelled to 4.4 million - nearly a tenfold increase (figures that beg confirmation by an outside source). It is sheer obscenity that the West remains complicit in this charade.

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.

The humanitarianism of the American people is wasted on people who care more about destroying the Jewish state than attending to the needs of their Palestinian people. Israel absorbed a greater number of refugees from Europe and the Arab states in the 1950’s, and gave them back their dignity. UNRWA and Palestinian political gangsters thrive on the misery of their Palestinian people. UNRWA must be disbanded just as UNRRA was.

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