by Barry Rubin, Asaf Romirowsky and Jonathan Spyer
4th part of 6
Bibliography and footnotes in part 6
Teaching and Preaching Hamas Ideology
Over time, it has become apparent that UNRWA does not only embrace Hamas, it actually teaches the violent Hamas platform. Since UNRWA teachers are typically alumni of the UNRWA school system, they perpetuate the vitriolic curriculum they were taught which vilifies
For example, Suheil al-Hindi an UNRWA teachers' representative in 2003, applauded suicide bombings in a school in the Jabalya refugee camp in
The increasing numbers of UNRWA teachers who openly identify with radical groups have created a teachers' bloc that ensures the election of members of Hamas and individuals committed to Islamist ideologies. Using their classrooms as a place to spread their radical messages, these teachers have also gravitated to local Palestinian elections. Thus, UNRWA's education system has become a springboard for Hamas-affiliated Palestinians with political aspirations. For example, Minister of Interior and Civil Affairs Minister Saeed Siyam of Hamas, was a teacher in UNRWA Schools in
Not surprisingly, UNRWA institutions have produced terrorist ideologues. They have also produced terrorist masterminds. As Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, writes, UNWRA has produced graduates like Ibrahim Maqadama, who "helped create the military structure of Hamas." Gold notes that, "at least 46 terrorist operatives were students in the UNRWA schools."
There have also been widespread reports of terrorism launched directly from UNRWA-supervised facilities. This includes sniper attacks from UNRWA-run schools, bomb and arms factories in UNRWA camps, the transport of terrorists to their target zones in UNRWA ambulances, and even UNRWA employees directly tied to terrorist attacks against civilians.
For example, Nidal Abd al-Fattah Abdallah Nazzal, an ambulance driver for UNRWA from Kalqiliya in the
Nahd Rashid Ahmad Atallah, a senior official of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip, was also arrested by Israeli security in August 2002. In his capacity as an UNRWA official he provided support to families of wanted terrorists, on behalf of Fatah and the PFLP.  Additionally, he used his UNRWA car in 2002 to transport armed members of the Popular Resistance Committees, the most extreme Palestinian faction which has been linked to al-Qaida, to carry out attacks against Israeli troops at the Karni passage. The same group was responsible for the killing of three
UNRWA's entanglement with terrorism is actually growing. The New York Times revealed in 2000 that UNRWA was allowing 25,000 Palestinian youngsters to use their schools disguised as "summer camps" for terrorist groups to provide military training. Children, ages 8 to 16, were taught how to prepare Molotov cocktails and roadside bombs.
This is all a far cry from being an internationally funded humanitarian agency that adheres to the UN's intended program of supporting peace. UNRWA has, in fact, become an organization which in practice supports war and ignores the humanitarian needs of the refugees.
CHAPTER THREE: THE MONEY TRAIL
In observing UNRWA and its financial assets, one of the most significant issues to bear in mind is the contrast between UNHCR and UNRWA. UNHCR has actually managed to resettle and solve many refugee problems whereas UNRWA has still not achieved that goal.
As Edward Buehrig rightfully notes,
"UNRWA's manner of dealing with refugee problems has been quite different from UNHCR's inasmuch as the Agency has directly financed and administered programs of public works, economic, rehabilitation, relief, health and education. Yet despite the depth and intimacy of UNRWA's involvement, the result has not been to dissipate the Arab refugee problem, whereas UNHCR has reached solutions in many situations."
In the early 1950s UNRWA's annual budget was approximately $54 million. It was charged with providing employment for the Palestinians within the host Arab states in which they resided. The UN believed that within a short time (less than five years) the refugees would be self-supporting in their host countries and relief disbursements could end. However, the UNRWA officials ran into much resistance from Arab governments who refused to cooperate with any plan designed to promote economic, social, and political integration or a sense of prosperity.
By 1959, UNRWA reported that its rehabilitation fund –– established in 1950 to provide homes and jobs for Palestinian refugees outside the camps –– had been rejected by the host countries. The fund had set a goal of $250 million of which about $7 million had already been spent. Thereafter, a small part of the allocation was used for agricultural development and the remainder augmented UNRWA's general reserves.
Once it became obvious that neither the host countries nor the refugees themselves would move forward anything but extremely limited cooperation in rehabilitative infrastructure programs, UNRWA focused its aid in the fields of health, education, and permanent or emergency economic relief. Under UNRWA's care, literacy and standards of public health among refugees rose. UNRWA is also one of the largest employers in the host countries, with more than 23,000 staff –– the vast majority of whom are locally recruited Palestinians –– in addition to about 100 international staff members.
Financially, the two years following the 1967 war were the years UNRWA transformed into a flourishing financial institution. UNRWA was called on to deal with the crisis and was given funds to do so.
UNRWA's chief, Michael Michelmore wrote,
"Unless the Agency in one way or another receives additional contributions amounting to ten percent of its prospective income for the current year, a reduction in services to the refugee population would be inescapable, with resulting in human hardship and suffering."
Michelmore forgets to mention that it was the government of
UNRWA's budget has been supported by many countries of which the
Per capita spending among refugees in camps thus declined from $200 in services per year per refugee in the 1970's to about $70 currently. This situation has been most evident in
Professor Fred Gottheil described UNRWA's strategy as one of "moral hazard." This term is defined by the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Economics as "an effect of economic institutions arranged so that individuals have an incentive to maximize consumption at a social cost to others because they do not bear the full cost of their consumption." An example given is that if someone who owns a house is insured no matter what their behavior, they lose the incentive to maintain their home properly. Although providing financial security to the insured, fire insurance may actually invite a higher incidence of fire damage. In a welfare system which discourages alternatives, the recipients are ultimately worse off.
The greatest beneficiaries of UNRWA's wealth are those who work for it. As Martha Gellhorn observed in 1961, the camps provided much employment to others for whom, "The refugees seemed to bring prosperity with them...."
It is important to note that the funds provided through U.S. AID come with legal restrictions. Section 301(c) of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, as amended, states that "all possible measures" must be taken to ensure that no
In 2003, the
So how could the head of UNRWA get away which such a statement?
The answer lies with the word "evidence." UNRWA has adopted a policy of "don't ask, don't tell." As such UNRWA does not note terrorist activities on refugee registration cards, nor do they receive information on terrorist related convictions of beneficiaries in addition, to not asking beneficiaries if they have engaged in terrorism.
In reality, the fact that UNRWA employees' do have ties to terrorism illustrates UNRWA's practice of simply turning a blind eye. Furthermore, the fear that UNRWA staff would be harmed should they be questioned has bolstered the need for employees and ordinary refugees to please the terrorist groups lest they lose jobs or benefits due to the political activists on the payroll. The same situation is faced by the international staff, which lives in or near the camps and whose families are known to terrorists.
The GAO report refers to a widespread consensus regarding this vulnerability. It also indicates that the
American taxpayers have reason for concern as the
Barry Rubin, Asaf Romirowsky and Jonathan Spyer
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