Last month’s killing of Massachusetts teenager Ezra Schwartz while he was on a gap year volunteering in Israel was the latest evidence that the intense drumbeat of Palestinian incitement to murder truly inflicts suffering everywhere.
The culpability of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for the kind of incitement that led to Schwartz’s murder and that of so many others is old news. But a share of that blame can also properly be placed at the feet of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees — which receives millions in U.S. dollars. That’s the finding of UN Watch, a watchdog group which monitors the work of U.N. agencies.
UN Watch documented how school principals, teachers and other staffers on the payroll of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, use social media to incite deadly attacks against “Jewish apes and pigs,” urging Palestinians to murder Israelis. Its institutions have become schools for genocide, where students and the broader community are urged to kill.
UN Watch’s findings were shocking, but not surprising. The U.N. relief agency’s embrace of anti-Semitism is an open secret. Its “Director of Advocacy and Strategic Communications,” Chris Gunness first angrily denied the findings and then belittled UN Watch as “not credible” before being forced to admit that the facts were as the watchdog group had reported.
UNRWA was created in 1949 to assist the 650,000 Arabs who fled the fighting when Arab nations invaded Israel in 1948 with the avowed intent to eliminate it at birth. When things did not work out as planned, they were collected in dozens of refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Their descendants have been kept there in large numbers ever since, placed in inter-generational limbo in conditions that remain from dreary to dreadful. Their fate has been in a choke-hold by Arab regimes, which prefer to spend their money on their own people and portray Palestinians as Israel’s victims rather than ease their plight.
The Arab world’s purposeful preservation of Palestinian refugee camps contrasts with Israel’s absorption of 800,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries in which they had lived for centuries. These Jews were the targets after 1948 of Arab League-ordered ethnic cleansing, forced to leave their homes and possessions in retaliation for Israel’s creation. The dirt-poor Jewish state, struggling for survival, took in the dirt-poor Jewish refugees, while the petrodollar-flush Arab states, which loudly proclaim their concern for Palestinians, have lifted barely a finger and contributed barely a farthing to help them, either by improving their welfare or by investing in Palestinian areas to fundamentally change their lives.
That the United States has consistently been the UNRWA’s largest donor, and that the Arab states do so little to support its work, illustrates the Arab world’s abandonment of the Palestinians. Last year, American taxpayers provided $409 million to it, four times what Saudi Arabia donated and 24 times what Kuwait, the next largest Arab governmental donor, contributed. The flood of evidence of UNRWA’s symbiotic relationship with Hamas and of the siphoning-off of money intended for humanitarian aid has aggravated concerns that American funds are not doing what they are intended to do.
“A recurring theme suggests a pathology of racism and violence within UNRWA, one that must be rooted out,” says Hillel Neuer, UN Watch’s executive director, and he is right. The humanitarian needs of Palestinians badly exploited by Arab states are genuine. But Americans are not obliged to subsidize incitement to murder year after year without end, and our government is in a position to demand that it stop.