For years I have been part of a small cadre of determined individuals who saw clearly the damage being done by UNRWA — the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees. Damage to prospects for peace in this region, and damage directly to Israel.
There is so much wrong with this agency that it’s impossible to document it all in this post. Suffice it to say the following:
UNRWA is the only international refugee agency in the world dedicated to one group of refugees — the Palestinian Arab “refugees.” All other refugees are tended to by the UN High Commission for Refugees. And what’s astounding is that UNRWA’s rules for “its” refugees are different from the rules for all those other refugees.
UNHCR works to get refugees resettled as quickly as possible — even if the only alternative is settling them permanently in the place to which they had fled or to a third place — so that they might get on with their lives.
UNRWA, however, which is functioning from an orientation that is highly politicized and heavily anti-Israel, says that “its” refugees continue to be refugees even if they get citizenship elsewhere. ONLY “returning” to Israel would eradicate that status. What is more, UNRWA says descendants of refugees are also refugees, indefinitely via the patrilineal line. Which means UNRWA promotes “return” to Israel of people who have never been here, and whose parents or even grandparents have never been here either.
So, while other refugee populations diminish over time, the rolls of UNRWA have grown exponentially. Hey! the idea here is to invade Israel by demanding that “right” for some roughly five million counted locally, or seven million world-wide. A good way to conquer Israel without lifting a machine gun.
Over the years, I have examined this approach of UNRWA and written about the fact that the so-called “right of return” does not exist. But I have also considered the deprivation of human rights endured by those refugees; the tendency for them to be radicalized because of their frustrations; the inciteful nature of UNRWA education; and the close link to UNRWA of Hamas — which, for starters, controls its school system in Gaza.
But now the focus has turned on the matter of refugee status within UNRWA, with regard to the number of descendants (which is increasing) vs. the number of original refugees (which is clearly diminishing as time passes).
Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is attempting to have an amendment attached to the funding bill for the State Department, for fiscal year 2013, that would require the State Department to provide to Congress: 1) the number of Palestinians physically displaced from their homes in what became Israel in 1948, and 2) the number of their descendants administered by UNRWA (that is, on UNRWA’s rolls today as refugees).
This is just a beginning, but a fantastic one that is long overdue. It calls public attention to the games being played by UNRWA, and ultimately will call into question US funding for UNRWA. The US is the single largest donor to UNRWA and the fact that a great deal of the US funds for UNRWA go to assist grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who fled in 1948 is not going to be received well in many quarters.
It is, however, a tough battle. The State Department is on UNRWA’s side. (Are you surprised?) UNRWA itself, along with its adjunct American Friends of UNRWA, does exceedingly good PR. At any given time you can find an article in one place or another documenting the splendid work that UNRWA does for these poor, long-suffering refugees.
If you live in IL, and are thus a constituent of Senator Kirk, let him know if you are pleased with what he is doing:
I’d like to share links to two articles on this issue, to which I will undoubtedly return in time:
“Counting Palestinian refugees” by Daniel Pipes, founder and president of the Middle East Forum.:
“Counting Palestinians,” by Shoshana Bryen, an analyst of ME affairs and former Senior Director for Security Policy at JINSA
Let me add here, as well, that Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) has taken a very active interest in UNRWA as well: He has focused on the textbooks, and deprivation of human rights of the refugees. His contribution is valuable, and there is hope that he will advance his work via Congressional hearings on the issue.
And again, if you are a constituent of Congressman Smith (4th Congressional district of NJ), let him know if you are pleased that he is looking into UNRWA’s school books and related problems:
The hot topic now is “Flame” — a massive piece of computer malware that is apparently affecting computers in Iran. Larger than, and quite different from Stuxnet, it is designed primarily to spy on the users of infected computers and steal data from them, including documents, recorded conversations and keystrokes. (I’m reading that it also opens a backdoor to infected systems to allow the attackers to tweak the toolkit and add new functionality, and I share this for those who comprehend.)
Recently discovered, and named, by the anti-virus firm of Kaspersky Lab in Russia, it has apparently been around for at least two years; speculation is that it may have been a companion to Stuxnet. While the greatest number of infections appears to be in Iran, it has also been picked up in PA areas, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
For more detailed information:
Iran, of course, is blaming Israel for this malware.
Minister of Security Affairs Moshe Ya’alon commented on Army Radio today:
“Israel has been blessed with a prolific hi-tech sector that opens possibilities in both the business and security fields.”
But many nations have high tech capability and see Iran as a threat. “Whoever sees the Iranian threat as a significant threat is likely to take various steps, including these, to hobble it.”
This is a good example of Israeli ingenuity:
A company that makes heavy-duty locks, Multi-T-Lock, and a company that makes GPS tracking devices, Starcom Systems, have jointly developed a product that was conceptualized by Maxim Prilutsky of Starcom: A “smart lock” that sends a message if it has been tampered with.
This represents a great advance in security systems and can even protect trucks.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.