UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. It was established on December 8, 1949, and began to operate on May 1, 1950. Its mandate has been obscure from the very beginning, though it did mention relief for Palestine refugees.
In discussing its mandate, an official document published by UNRWA offers a rather vague explanation: “Attention is devoted to the evolution of some aspects of the Agency’s mandate, in particular human development and protection.” Subsequently, the article concludes with some remarks on the overall nature of UNRWA’s mandate, without specifying what those really are.
Given that every three years the mandate must be renewed, and that it was never actually defined, the organization grew beyond all proportions and became a behemoth that spends hundreds of millions of dollars, mainly on schools in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority. In fact, “Over half of the 2020 Programme Budget of US$ 806 [sic] million is earmarked for education under the priority that ‘school-aged children complete quality, equitable and inclusive basic education,’” according to the organization’s own statement.
The problem is that what UNRWA defines as “inclusive basic education” is actually a hate campaign against Israel, Israelis, and Jews. These hundreds of millions of dollars go toward feeding the fire of hate in the most volatile area in the world. Recently, the racist content has become so defamatory that even the EU Parliament, not exactly one of Israel’s guardians in the international community, condemned the organization.
The irony is that despite the hate campaign, the squandering of nearly a billion dollars every year, and its complete incompetence when it comes to actually helping refugees, the EU, as does the UN, the US, and the rest of the world, continue to fund UNRWA. Just recently, the EU voted to give UNRWA another boost worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
After decades of warnings about the inappropriate use of funds by UNRWA, we must finally accept that the organization’s use of funds is squarely within the boundaries of the nations’ intent. In other words, they have no problem with its support of antisemitic teachings because it expresses their opinions.
Worse yet, in the coming years, we should expect more and more such “aid” and “human rights” organizations to emerge out of the blue, and all of them will focus on one and only target: condemning, and eventually delegitimizing the existence of the State of Israel.
The only possible solution to the problem is not political, but spiritual. That is, the proliferation or lessening of anti-Israel and antisemitic organizations depends on the spirit of the Israeli people, and specifically our social cohesion. The more united we are, the greater the solidarity between us, the less powerful and successful these organizations will become.
For decades, the State of Israel has been trying to fight the incitement against it. For decades, matters have gone from bad to worse. Were it not for US vetoes, the sanctions against Israel would have made life very difficult for Israelis long ago. In recent years, there has been a growing tendency in the US, too—with the exception of the Trump administration—to lean more toward the Arabs and less toward Israel. In such a state, soon there will be no one protecting Israel in the UN Security Council and sanctions will start landing on the Jewish state.
However, Israel can reverse the trajectory. If it unites its ranks, its unity alone will turn the antagonism toward it into sympathy. We need not explain anything to anyone; we only need to show that we are one nation, united above all our divisions and disagreements. This is what the world needs to see from Israel, and this is what will legitimize our presence in the land of our fathers.
Illustration picture a UN flag during a visit to the UNRWA school at the Aida Camp, in Betlehem, on day three of the visit of Minister of Development Cooperation and Urban Policy Kitir to the Palestinian Territories, Wednesday 11 May 2022.