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UNRWA has failed the Palestinians

The plight of Arab Palestinian refugees is indeed a crisis.

The re-making of the Middle Eastern map after the British mandate came to an end brought opportunity, but also complexity. To this day, because of the Palestinians’ historic miscalculation, it has brought much anguish for them.

UNRWA was launched over 75 years ago to deal with the plight of Middle East refugees, including Jews. They bowed out in 1952. But 75 years on, Palestinian Arabs are still on the dole. Not only has UNRWA not alleviated the plight of Arab Palestinians, it has only sharpened and expanded it — by design.

It is unclear precisely how many Arab Palestinians there were in 1948, but estimates range from 500,000 to 700,000.

Many, if not most — but not all — of these refugees departed from the area of the British Mandate of their own volition, or at the behest of their Arab Palestinian leadership, to avoid being caught in a conflict zone. They thought that the conflict zone would be short-lived, that victory over the Jews was on the horizon. They believed the surrounding Arab armies who had declared war on newly created and tiny State of Israel would surely prevail, and they would return home after a fortnight or so.

When, by stunning surprise, Israel won, the Palestinians’ historic miscalculation left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians them displaced. Whereupon their narrative changed.

Not only has UNRWA failed in resettling the Arab Palestinian refugees, which is the mission of the organization, but it has exponentially increased the number of Arab Palestinian refugees.

Aside from what seems to be UNRWA’s anti-Israel motivation in keeping Arab Palestinians refugees, it’s also artificial. Because unlike in every other instance of refugee or displaced persons, UNRWA uniquely defines an Arab Palestinian refugee to include all of their descendants of the 1948 refugees.

The equivalent would be that millions of Jews walking around today who are great-grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and would be identified as Polish refugees, Hungarian refugees, etc. Add in the names of all the European countries. You get the idea.

Uniquely, UNRWA, instead of helping Arab Palestinian refugees move forward in life, has kept them confined to camps. It has also confined them to a psychological limbo and refugee mentality, as though they are still the refugees of 1948, still licking their fresh wounds of displacement.

Jews have a positive concept of “dor l’dor.” Passing down through the generations a legacy of strong, positive Jewish values to live by. Dor l’dor is a cornerstone of Jewish continuity.

What UNRWA perpetuates is exactly an inversion of that. A twisted kind of dor l’dor, to keep alive the torment and hopelessness of defeat, of supposed injustice, of displacement, of a narrative of pain and suffering. Not the memory of it. Not as a a symbol. But the reality of it — for generations of Palestinians.

As if this were not bad enough, UNRWA also poisons each successive generation of “refugees” by indoctrinating them in their UNRWA schools with an ideology of bile, hate, death, rage, martyrdom — justification of cold-blooded murder of Israelis.

But even setting aside this anti-Israel bias of UNRWA (long documented by UNWatch and others), the fact is that in every other field, be it education, medicine, social work, business, real estate, law, etc., if an employee, let alone an entire organization, clearly failed to meet its goal, it would lose its job, go out of business or try a different paradigm. But in the case of UNRWA and its goal of helping the original 700,000 Arab Palestinian refugees, it only exacerbated the very problem it was created to solve — down to fifth generation Arab Palestinian refugees.

Yet the world has gone along with the UNRWA farce, be it the UN itself, obviously, or be it the mainstream media, treating UNRWA like some compassionate humanitarian aid organization.

Finally, for the first time since UNRWA’s inception, this week mainstream media reported about 12 UNRWA employees participating in Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre and celebrating it, what I call Hamas’ “Itbach al Yahud, “Slaughter the Jews” sadistic murder, mutilation, burning, rape and kidnapping of Israeli Jews — as well the non-Jews there on that fateful day.

Twelve employees out of 13,000.

This is the big call-out? It’s basically more of the same coddling and looking away from UNRWA’s actual hate-filled agenda that has seeped through Gaza culture. UNRWA has played a primary role in shaping multiple Palestinian generations, kept in the 1948 limbo mindset, leaving them desperate, without hope. By design.

Who cares about 12 out of 13,000? What a joke. That should come across as an aberration, an exception to the norm. As if UNRWA were some idealistic, pristine organization,but, to the great dismay of its leadership, an inconsequential of a ratio of its employees aligned with Hamas. Sorry, but the same intelligence that led to the discovery of 12 UN participants in Oct. 7 also led to the discovery that some 10% of the entire UNRWA staff are members of terrorist organizations..

After decades of silence, journalistically the surface is at least being scratched in acknowledging corruption of UNRWA.

Why is UNRWA necessary at all? UNHCR is UN’s organization that deals in aiding refugees and displaced persons around the world. Why are Palestinians not aided under this worldwide organization?

While it begs the question of why, it’s not really the point. The point is that UNRWA has failed the Palestinians. With so much of its leadership and staff aligning with terrorists, it has shaped the Gazan culture of hatred by allowing UNRWA schools to become weapons depots and tunnel shields. UNRWA has betrayed its role as trusted stewards of humanitarian aid by letting much of it slide under its watchful eyes to be weaponized by Hamas all the while leaving generations of Palestinians in poverty and the torment of psychological abeyance.

This ought to be more than enough for the world to put a stop to this scam and lie of a “humanitarian” organization.

The US is UNRWA’s largest single donor. Congress will conduct a hearing about the fate of UNRWA.

To support UNRWA is nothing short of taking part in supporting people who support monsters, whose life mission is sadism, and who celebrate it.

I’m sure that there are some wonderful UNRWA employees whose sense of mission is purely humanitarian. I am sure UNRWA includes dedicated teachers whose desire to see children to grow is their motivation. Unfortunately, though, UNRWA as an organization — after 75 years! — is past the point of being salvaged.

A new plan, a new paradigm of oversight, must be implemented, so as not to repeat the damage and corruption that UNRWA got away with for so long.

Let this moment in time, after so much pain and suffering, at least yield a new model for meeting current needs and nurturing future prospects for upcoming generations of Palestinians and Israelis.

Copyright © 2024 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

One thought on “UNRWA has failed the Palestinians

  1. Lawrence Kaufman

    Yes, the entire UN one big sad joke—a sordid money pit of influence-peddling, swindling and grifting under the guise of phony social justice, 3rd world ‘progress’ all to assuage the West’s guilt. Shut it down now. Evict it from NYC. It serves no purpose any longer.


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