Trump Stands Firm Against Bias and Abuses at International Organizations: Prof. Eytan Gilboa, BESA, Oct. 11, 2018— Critics of President Donald Trump often accuse him of being erratic and inconsistent on foreign policy.

As the US Cuts Funding, UNRWA Employees Forced to Flee Gaza: Asaf Romirowsky and Alex Joffe, Washington Examiner, Oct. 11, 2018— The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine evacuated at least 10 international senior officials from the Gaza Strip last Monday.

UNRWA’s Message of Hate and Indoctrination: Deborah Singer Soffen and Joan Lurie Goldberg, Algemeiner, Sept. 26, 2018 — The education of Palestinian schoolchildren must change drastically if there is ever to be a lasting negotiated peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Is Israel’s International Isolation Diminishing?: Elliott Abrams, CFR, January 17, 2018— In December 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution rejecting and criticizing the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

On Topic Links

‘Many of Us Owe Meir Dagan Their Lives’: Moshe Ya’alon, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 21, 2018

Nikki Haley: A Warrior for Truth and Justice: Danny Danon, JNS, Oct. 11, 2018

Israel’s Nationality Law, UN Resolution 181, and the Arab List: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Sept. 21, 2018

The Impact of Non-Orthodox Jews on America: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2018




Prof. Eytan Gilboa

BESA, Oct. 11, 2018

Critics of President Donald Trump often accuse him of being erratic and inconsistent on foreign policy. In one particular area, however, he has been clear and consistent: the UN, international organizations, and international law. As in other areas of foreign policy and national security, Trump has completely reversed the policies of his predecessor Barack Obama. From the beginning of his tenure in the White House, Trump has shown little respect for the Security Council, the UN General Assembly, and several other UN and international agencies. He views them as highly politicized, corrupt, ineffective, and anti-American.

Trump appointed Nikki Haley, a highly popular and very sharp politician, to the position of US Ambassador to the UN. Haley, of Indian-Sikh origin, was the first female governor of South Carolina and was considered for vice president. She regularly and defiantly holds up a mirror to the delegates at the UN to expose the body’s hypocrisy, falseness, and double standards. (On October 9, Haley resigned her position, to be effective at the end of calendar 2018.) John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN who became Trump’s National Security Advisor in April 2018, is another key player in the new American approach to the UN and other international organizations.

In his speech to the 2018 UN General Assembly (his second to the body), Trump clarified a doctrine he often repeated during the 2016 presidential campaign and has continued to emphasize since becoming president: The US is a sovereign state and will determine its functions in world affairs solely on the basis of its national interests. “America is governed by Americans,” he said. “We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the doctrine of patriotism.”

Trump has consistently applied this doctrine to multiple international organizations and processes. When the US decided to leave the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained, “Too many commitments have gone unfulfilled. President Trump wants to move the ball forward. From day one he has called out institutions or countries who say one thing and do another, and that’s precisely the problem at the Human Rights Council.”

In June 2018, the US left the UNHRC. Ambassador Haley said that for almost a year, she had demanded reforms to the Council’s operations to no avail. “Regrettably,” she said, “it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded. Human rights abusers continue to serve on, and be elected to, the Council.” She mentioned the election of the Democratic Republic of Congo as a new member, and the Council’s failure to conduct a single session on massive abuses committed by Venezuela and Iran, two Council members.

Haley added, “The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny and the Council continues the politicizing and scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks. For too long the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.” The US decision to leave the UNHRC was also prompted by talks at the Council on condemning the Trump administration for immigration policies, particularly regarding the separation of illegal parents from their children.

The UNHRC was established in 2006 to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights, which ran from 1947 to 2006. The Commission was dismantled because of overt politicizing and the membership of many countries that have been among the greatest abusers of human rights on earth, such as Cuba, China, Russia, Libya, Sudan, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe. The Council has done no better. The same abusers were elected to the new body and the Council’s performance has been as ludicrous as that of the Commission. Its handling of Israel has been especially biased and outrageous.

The UNHRC has one item, Agenda Item 7, dedicated solely to Israel and another for the entire rest of the world. More than 50% of all resolutions this body adopts every year are against Israel. Most are one-sided and based on false information. The Council has appointed two committees to investigate alleged “war crimes” by Israel in Gaza warfare – but only Israel’s alleged crimes, not those of Hamas, the extreme Islamic terror organization that controls Gaza. The Goldstone Report (April 2009) and the Davis Report (June 2015) were skewed, flawed, and baseless (and, indeed, Goldstone himself later disavowed his namesake report). The UNHRC commissioned them in order to question and limit Israel’s right to self-defense. No other country in any other international conflict has ever been subjected to this type of biased and false inquiry…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




                                                Asaf Romirowsky and Alex Joffe                                                                                           Washington Examiner, Oct. 11, 2018

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine evacuated at least 10 international senior officials from the Gaza Strip last Monday. The reason? These top staffers had received death threats following the announcement of budget cuts and planned layoffs by the agency. This is all because U.S. had decided not to renew its funding — emboldened, perhaps, by the Taylor Force Act’s prohibition on funding organizations that abet terrorism.

UNRWA confirmed later that it had “decided to temporarily withdraw part of its international staff from Gaza following a series of worrying security incidents affecting its personnel in the Strip.” These threats were so real that it prompted an emergency exit via the Erez Crossing, which was closed for the Sukkot holiday (the Feast of Tabernacles). It had to be specially opened just to permit the group of UNRWA employees to flee.

What sort of organization lives in dire fear of its own employees? From a human resource perspective, UNRWA is a case study of a client hijacking a service provider. The majority of the approximately 30,000 employees are Palestinians. The few hundred internationals employed by the agency are also overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian. It is rare that any employee has dared to break the code of silence regarding UNRWA’s alleged indispensability or its internal affairs. It is a demonstration of where the power lies that international employees have become the pawns that can be sacrificed.

To UNRWA’s Palestinian employees, the internationals are somehow representatives of the international system. The U.S., under this system, is simultaneously hated and expected to provide funding in perpetuity. We only know of a handful of individuals who have ever aired UNRWA’s dirty laundry. One such case was back in 2010, during a speech to an Arab-American group. Andrew Whitley, outgoing head of UNRWA’s New York office, stated the obvious: “We recognize, as I think most do, although it’s not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent. … It’s not a politically palatable issue, it’s not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it’s a known contour to the issue.”

UNRWA’s new leadership swiftly and “unequivocally” distanced itself from these comments, saying that they “in no way reflect the policies or positions of the agency and are the personal views of Mr. Whitley.” Whitley then came under such pressure from his former employer that he had to publicly repudiate his own comments as “inappropriate and wrong.”

This was not unlike what had occurred in 1952, when Lt. Gen. Sir Alexander Galloway, a noted British soldier-diplomat and UNRWA director in Jordan, made a famous statement to a group of visiting American church leaders: “It is perfectly clear that the Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront against the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.”

Shortly thereafter, Galloway was fired at the demand of the Jordanian government because he refused to dismiss international employees and hire locals. Galloway then published a blunt op-ed in the Daily Telegraph and Morning Post where he lambasted UNRWA and the international approach to the Palestinian refugee problem.

What is the solution? Of course the problem is difficult. Refugee settlement, except under dictatorship, is a long, expensive business. Somehow or other, the Arab Governments, the United Nations, UNRWA and some of the refugees have got to face facts: The refugees cannot in the foreseeable future return (or in the case of most of them, go) to Israel. Public acceptance of this is a matter of politics, beyond the function of UNRWA. Second, a determined effort should be made to get the “host” countries to take over relief from the Agency, thus freeing it to get on with the much more important task of resettlement.

UNRWA’s international employees, who were threatened by their local counterparts, were not going to speak publicly about its frequent hiring of terrorists and about Hamas’ use of UNRWA facilities. But they were apparently driven out precisely because they had failed in their primary task: to ensure the continued flow of funds. This is the crux of the problem. In 1949, before UNRWA was created, protesters challenged a group of UN officials visiting Gaza. As one observer described it, “A large sign had been printed in English, on which were the following, numbered as indicated: ‘1. Send us back home. 2. Compensate us. 3. Maintain us until we are refreshed.’ Just what they had in mind by ‘refreshed’ I leave to your imagination.”

UNRWA’s funding problems, and the flight of its international employees from Gaza, mask the real issue, a culture of entitlement that goes back almost 70 years, and which seeks to preserve Palestinians as internationally supported “refugees” until Israel magically disappears, rather than encourage their resettlement, self-reliance, and dignity. Until there is a cultural change, international employees will continue to be sacrificed, and the international community will be expected to pay up.                                                                                    Contents


                    UNRWA’S MESSAGE OF HATE AND INDOCTRINATION                                                   Deborah Singer Soffen and Joan Lurie Goldberg

                                                Algemeiner, Sept. 26, 2018

The education of Palestinian schoolchildren must change drastically if there is ever to be a lasting negotiated peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Why? Because these schools have been inciting three generations of young Palestinians to hate and kill Jews, and the only means of conflict resolution that these students have been exposed to is violence.

For children all over the world, the new school year is filled with promise and excitement, affording them the opportunity for personal development so that they may eventually become productive citizens of their perspective communities. The same cannot be said for Palestinian children. The United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA and the Palestinian leadership have manipulated their education system to serve a different purpose. Rather than an education that strives to better the child, they exploit impressionable minds, indoctrinating these children into a culture of hate, thereby perpetuating the conflict rather than resolving it. Until their education system changes, the region is at least a generation away from a true, sustainable peace.

Palestinian schools, including various private schools belonging to Christian churches and Islamic charity foundations, all receive their textbooks from the PA Ministry of Education’s Curricula Center in Ramallah. According to Dr. Arnon Groiss, whose research on the subject spans 18 years, the most recent set of books published in 2016/2018 are even more radical than their predecessors. According to him, a curriculum of hatred permeates all subject matter, from elementary arithmetic to high school social studies and science. Martyrdom is glorified, the Jews’ historical connection to their biblical homeland is rejected, and contemporary maps of the region omit the existence of the UN member state of Israel. Jews are demonized and terrorist/jihad concepts are woven into songs, plays, and academia.

“The Right of Return” for more than five million Palestinians, clearly an attempt to destroy the State of Israel, is taught as a birthright. “Summer camps” for UNRWA students in Gaza are essentially Hamas paramilitary training programs. It is nothing short of hair-raising to see an adorable schoolgirl demonstrate the best way to stab a Jew or hear a young schoolboy say that he dreams of one day becoming a martyr.

UNRWA was set up in 1949 to provide social services, including education, to the Palestinian refugee population that resulted following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, which occurred when the newly declared State of Israel was attacked by its Arab neighbors. The agency’s schools now employ 30,000 teachers, many of whom are products of these same incitement-filled schools. Therefore, it should be no surprise that peace in the region has been so elusive. Nor should it be a surprise that there have been so many teenage Palestinians attending these schools who have been willing to sacrifice their lives in order to murder Jews. This phenomenon of a society indoctrinating children is eerily similar to that of the Hitler Youth. The Nazis employed propaganda, hate-filled rhetoric, rabid antisemitism, paramilitary training, and the concept of self-sacrifice for the cause in order to ensure that there would be a crop of new young soldiers at the ready to feed the Third Reich. To quote Hitler, “He alone who owns the youth gains the future.”

It has been a monumental error in judgement to ignore the fact that UNRWA has been complicit in allowing a hate-filled education system to function unfettered in its schools all these years. If this indoctrination had been properly addressed decades ago, we would likely not be in the situation we are in today, faced with a population of Palestinians educated in UNRWA schools (for which the US was the major donor) unwilling to even consider a peaceful resolution to a conflict that has cost far too many innocent lives and benefits no one — certainly not Palestinians.

The indoctrination of impressionable children in a racist, violent ideology that encourages martyrdom puts a child’s personal well-being in jeopardy. In fact, the Palestinian education system meets the definition of child abuse as outlined by a number of organizations. For example: “The Convention of the Rights of the Child,” ratified by the UN General Assembly in 1989, recognizes and urges respect for the human rights of children. In particular, Article 19 calls for legislative, administrative, social, and educational actions to protect children from all forms of violence. The International Criminal Court has recognized that “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities” is a war crime….[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                                                                                                                                              Contents



Elliott Abrams

CFR, January 17, 2018

In December 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution rejecting and criticizing the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The vote was 128 in favor and 9 against (including Israel and the United States), with 35 abstaining and 21 absent. That result was variously interpreted as a sort of victory for the United States and Israel, in that fifty-five countries did not support the resolution, or a great defeat, reminiscent of the 1975 General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. (That resolution was repealed in 1991.)

But Israel’s international standing at the start of 2018 is markedly different than it was in 1975. The 1975 vote reflected Israel’s isolation in the world, while the 2017 vote reflects Israel’s recent successes in diminishing that isolation. The pattern that could be developing is one in which Israel will lose votes in the General Assembly and other UN bodies (though sometimes by diminishing margins) while developing bilateral relationships with more and more countries, even Muslim-majority ones.

While Israel does maintain diplomatic relations with most countries, thirty-two UN members refuse diplomatic relations with the Jewish state; most are Muslim-majority countries. Israel has long been treated with unique severity in the UN system, where there has long been a nearly automatic majority for any resolution criticizing Israel or supporting the Palestinian cause, whether over Israeli settlement activity, claims of human rights abuses, Israeli responses to terrorist attacks, or other allegations. Its geographic location should place it within the Asia-Pacific Group in the United Nations along with its neighbors, but Arab states have prevented this, and, as a result, Israel has had to join the West European and Others Group instead.

According to Geneva-based watchdog group UN Watch, in the decade after its creation in June 2006, the UN Human Rights Council adopted 135 resolutions criticizing individual countries; 68 of them, or just over half, have been against Israel. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has over the last decade adopted about ten resolutions a year against Israel. Over that period, it adopted only one resolution criticizing any other country: Syria, in 2013. That focus largely explains why the United States and Israel announced their departure from UNESCO in 2017. The UN General Assembly itself has over the last decade adopted roughly twenty-five resolutions a year criticizing individual countries; more than 75 percent of them have targeted Israel.

How can Israel’s recent diplomatic progress be measured? First, the December 2017 General Assembly vote was followed by no concrete steps (some previous resolutions established special UN procedures targeting Israel or demanded that states take various actions against Israel). UN votes are significant indicators of symbolic support for the Palestinian cause or the two-state solution, but no country has changed its economic or diplomatic relationship with Israel in the wake of the latest UN vote, with the exception of Guatemala, which announced that it would follow the United States in moving its embassy to Jerusalem.

Second, there have been notable examples of Israel’s wider diplomatic outreach in the past two years. At the 2016 General Assembly session, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with fifteen African heads of state and ambassadors. In November 2016, he became the first Israeli prime minister in three decades to travel to East Africa, where he met with the heads of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Visiting Kenya again in November 2017, Netanyahu was received by President Uhuru Kenyatta at his residence on inauguration day; he was the only Western leader who took part in the festivities and was seated next to Kenyatta during the celebratory meal. He was also the only foreign leader asked to speak at the lunch. Similarly, in September 2017 Netanyahu set another diplomatic precedent, venturing to Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico in the first-ever trip by an Israeli prime minister to South America…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]     

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic Links

‘Many of Us Owe Meir Dagan Their Lives’: Moshe Ya’alon, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 21, 2018 —I congratulate the political, operational, and intelligence echelons on the decision and the implementation of the attack to destroy the nuclear reactor in Syria about a decade ago. This important operation reflects what the State of Israel has long advocated and maintained as policy.

Nikki Haley: A Warrior for Truth and Justice: Danny Danon, JNS, Oct. 11, 2018—Over the years, we have grown accustomed to seeing the United Nations as an institution of lies and twisted half-truths the likes of which are disseminated by Arab countries and our enemies around the world, but with Nikki Haley’s appointment as US ambassador to the United Nations, a new era was born.

Israel’s Nationality Law, UN Resolution 181, and the Arab List: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Sept. 21, 2018—Ever since 1988, when, after 40 years of rejection, the PLO feigned acceptance of General Assembly Resolution 181 on the partition of mandatory Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, the resolution has been the document used most frequently by Palestinians to underscore two of their major claims – the right to statehood within borders that were larger by far than those envisaged by the Oslo “peace” process, and the supposed “right of return.”

The Impact of Non-Orthodox Jews on America: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2018—There is no disputing that, except for the vast majority of Orthodox Jews, American Jews and their leaders have distanced themselves from their Jewish identity. In most cases, this reflects an indifference to global Jewish issues, and often, a deliberate display of contempt toward Israel and its security challenges and the belief that Israeli leaders are not willing to discard an “outdated nationalist ideology.”




Trump Kicks America’s Palestinian Habit: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2018— It was probably a coincidence that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hailed the Iranian anti-regime protesters and threatened to end US financial support for UNRWA – the UN Palestinian refugee agency – and the Palestinian Authority more generally in the same briefing.

Time for Western Donors to Teach the PA a Lesson: Marcus Sheff, Times of Israel, Jan. 2, 2018— On December 10, 2017, Yasin Abu al-Qar’a got up early.

Palestinian Hostility to Peace Overlooked Following Trump Jerusalem Decision: John Rossomando, IPT News, Dec. 28, 2017— Commentators far and wide make it sound as if President Trump's decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is the death knell of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

The Palestinians Should Take What They Can Get While They Can: Conrad Black, National Post, Dec. 8, 2017 — The American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an inspired move and the Canadian government’s decision to respond judiciously is very commendable.


On Topic Links


Thousands in Gaza Protest Against Worsening Living Conditions: Dov Lieber, Times of Israel, Jan. 4, 2018

New in the West Bank: A Credit Boom Waiting for a Real Economy: David Wainer, Bloomberg, Jan. 3, 2018

Trump's Jerusalem Move Could Provide a Pathway to Peace: Ahmed Charai, National Interest, Jan. 1, 2018

Palestinians: Always on the Wrong Side: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 3, 2018





Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2018


It was probably a coincidence that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hailed the Iranian anti-regime protesters and threatened to end US financial support for UNRWA – the UN Palestinian refugee agency – and the Palestinian Authority more generally in the same briefing. But they are integrally linked. It is no coincidence that Hamas is escalating its rocket attacks on Israel as the Iranian regime confronts the most significant domestic challenge it has ever faced.

As IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said this week, Iranian assistance to Hamas is steadily rising. Last August, Hamas acknowledged that Iran is its greatest military and financial backer. In 2017, Iran transferred $70 million to the terrorist group. Eisenkot said that in 2018, Iran intends to transfer $100m. to Hamas.


If Iran is Hamas’s greatest state sponsor, UNRWA is its partner. UNRWA is headquartered in Gaza. It is the UN’s single largest agency. It has more than 11,500 employees in Gaza alone. UNRWA’s annual budget is in excess of $1.2 billion. Several hundred million each year is spent in Gaza. The US is UNRWA’s largest funder. In 2016, it transferred more than $368m. to UNRWA.


For the past decade, the Center for Near East Policy Research has copiously documented how UNRWA in Gaza is not an independent actor. Rather it is an integral part of Hamas’s regime in Gaza. UNRWA underwrites the jihadist regime by paying for its school system and its healthcare system, among other things. Since 1999, UNRWA employees have repeatedly and overwhelmingly elected Hamas members to lead their unions.


In every major missile campaign Hamas has carried out against Israel since the group seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, UNRWA facilities have played key roles in its terrorist offensives. Missiles, rockets and mortars have been stored in and fired from UNRWA schools and clinics. UNRWA teachers and students have served as human shields for Hamas missile launches against Israel. UNRWA ambulances have been used to ferry weapons, including mortars, and terrorists. UNRWA officials have served as Hamas mouthpieces in their propaganda war against Israel.


In the UNRWA school curriculum, the overwhelming message in nearly every class, and nearly every textbook, is that students should seek martyrdom in jihad against Israel. They should strive to destroy the Jewish state. Hamas’s youth group, which provides children’s military training and jihadist indoctrination, gathers at UNRWA schools. Despite repeated demands by the US Congress, and the passage of US laws requiring UNRWA to bar Hamas members from working for the agency, UNRWA administrators have insisted for more than a decade that they have no way to conduct such screening. Yet rather than cut off US funding for the agency, successive US administrations have increased funding for UNRWA every year.


Given all of this, Hamas is comfortable using Iran’s $100m. to build attack tunnels and missile launchers, because it trusts that the US and other UNRWA donor countries will continue to underwrite its regime through UNRWA. If the US cuts off its assistance, then at least some of Iran’s money will have to be diverted to teachers’ salaries.


Hamas’s recently escalating rocket attacks on Israel may be happening because Iran wishes to deflect international attention away from its plan to brutally suppress the anti-regime protesters at home. So the more Hamas is financially squeezed by the US and other UNRWA funders, the more likely any Hamas-Iran war plans being advanced now will be placed on the back burner. So whether or not Haley realized it, her statement on cutting off US funding to Hamas strengthened the anti-regime protesters against the regime.


Those protesters, of course are demanding that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his henchmen stop raiding Iran’s treasury to finance Hezbollah, Hamas and Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. Haley’s comments, as well as President Donald Trump’s follow-on threat to end US funding of the PA, were more than a blow to Hamas. They marked end of the past 25 years of US-Palestinian relations…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Marcus Sheff

Times of Israel, Jan. 2, 2018


On December 10, 2017, Yasin Abu al-Qar’a got up early. He calmly left his home outside Nablus, traveled to Jerusalem and plunged a knife which he had specially bought into the chest of a middle-aged Jerusalem bus station guard, Asher Elmaliach. During his indictment for attempted murder and as reported in The Times of Israel, al-Qar’a told his Shin Bet interrogators that he had identified Elmaliach as a Jew and that his attempt to kill was “based on what he’d been taught in Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks”.


The PA curriculum was recently overhauled, taking three years to write. PA Minister of Education Sabri Saidem touted it as a curriculum for the Steve Jobs economy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The sad fact is, rather than grasp the opportunity to teach values of progress, tolerance and peace, the new PA curriculum is a rallying call to extremism and martyrdom…


(The) new curriculum promotes radicalization to an even greater extent than before. The textbooks groom school children to sacrifice their lives and they promote hate. Negotiations with Israel are rejected, with children taught that a Palestinian state will be achieved only through violence and religious war. Martyrdom is preached as a life goal. Their reward is in heaven where 72 wives await. Girls find equality with boys through martyrdom. Dying, they are taught, is better than living.


Those who risk their lives are championed, while those who choose a path of nonviolence are denigrated as cowards. War is considered an eternal state of human nature, while even science is twisted to teach violence. The stated goal is to conquer Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, promoted through an Islamist and increasingly, a Salafist narrative. The curriculum’s focus is not merely on demonizing Israel, but to justify war as an ongoing and praiseworthy necessity.


Be in no doubt. Asher Elmaliach currently lies in intensive care as a direct result of the PA Ministry of Education’s carefully crafted curriculum, which systematically encourages young Palestinians to become expendable martyrs. What is almost as shocking as the content of the PA’s curriculum, is the source of funding which has made it possible. The PA Ministry of Education is funded by the European Union and EU member states, through programs of the American and Canadian governments, and by international organizations that are generously financed by the United States and Europeans. All in all, hundreds of millions of dollars are transferred to the PA for education, thanks to the unwitting generosity of American and European taxpayers.


When challenged directly with the grim reality of the curriculum, with the clear evidence of our report in front of their eyes, Western diplomats to the PA are often surprised. But their response is inadequate. At best, they insist that the matter has been raised with the PA Ministry of Education. These diplomatic niceties have brought no apparent change. Meanwhile other Western envoys revert to a culturally relativist narrative which ultimately infantilizes and demeans Palestinians. At a moment when around the Middle East, from Morocco to Jordan, governments are purging extremism from textbooks, fearful of radicalizing youth in their countries, the PA has made a strategic decision to do the opposite – to radicalize young Palestinians. Today, in schools across the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, 1.2 million Palestinian children are exposed to hate and encouraged to sacrifice themselves.


Change will not come from the diplomats on the ground. It will come through multilateral, international pressure, brought to bear on  respective governments by elected representatives. Already, there is progress – from Members of Congress who oppose USAID funding of the PA while this curriculum remains in circulation, a Labour Party MP who is leading the charge in Britain, Finnish politicians who are demanding their government abide by its own principles of zero hate in schools when giving aid to the PA Ministry of Education. Meanwhile, an energetic and effective group of MEPs are determined to condition the European Union’s massive annual funding to the PA Ministry of Education on removing hate in PA textbooks and a leading Belgian newspaper is asking its government why it is involved in promoting martyrdom. 2018 needs to be the year when donor nations begin to take responsibility for what young Palestinians are being taught at the expense of their taxpayers. The alternative is a conveyor belt of ‘martyrs’ just like Yasin Abu al-Qar’a. And too many innocent victims, just like Asher Elmaliach.                                  





John Rossomando

IPT News, Dec. 28, 2017


Commentators far and wide make it sound as if President Trump's decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is the death knell of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. In the process, they perpetuate their continual blindness to the fact the Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, considers Israel proper part of the disputed territories and wishes Israel's destruction.


The usual talking points blaming Israel and Trump appear ad nauseam. "This looks like a declaration of war on 1.6 [billion] Muslims, basically. They consider Jerusalem … they consider the holy site, the Aqsa mosque, the Dome of the Rock, as the most important, the third basically most important holy site for all of them," University of Miami Visiting Professor Rula Jebreal, also an Israeli Arab citizen, said , during a Dec. 6 appearance on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes." "… [T]here is no peace process anymore because Trump destroyed it de facto – and I think also the Israelis and the settlements [ended it]."


She conveniently ignores that Israel's seat of government has been in Jerusalem since late 1949. President Trump's decision doesn't prevent future Palestinian and Israeli governments from making East Jerusalem a Palestinian capital. Jebreal's statement also ignores that Jordan, not Israel, has custodianship of the Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount. Jebreal's hyperbole isn't surprising considering her pro-Islamist bias, evidenced by her praise for Tunisian Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi and Mauritanian Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, both of whom endorse jihadist terror against Israel. Islam forbids normalizing relations with Israel, the International Union of Resistance Scholars declared in October. The conference's theme was, "The Extinction of Israel is an historical, definitive and Quranic fact." "Giving up Palestine and recognizing the right of the Zionist entity to establish its state on the land of Islam and the Muslims is a betrayal of Allah, His Messenger (Muhammad) and the rest of the believers," the conference's concluding document said.


A separate gathering earlier this month of 255 Muslim scholars representing 26 countries in Istanbul signed a "Charter of the Resistance to Normalization" forbidding normalizing relations with Israel. Participating groups such as the Association of Sunni Scholars and the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) have ties the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar. The charter said normalizing relations was against Islamic law. The IUMS issued a press release Dec. 6 calling Trump's decision a "red line" and urging Muslims to never "allow to compromise, even if they have to bring great sacrifices." IUMS founder Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi called for jihad "for the sake of Jerusalem." Qaradawi made a similar appeal in July, urging an "Islamic campaign" for Jerusalem. Qaradawi's name appeared first among the 255 signatories of the declaration condemning normalized relations with Israel.


Meanwhile, Iranian Quds Force leader Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani reaffirmed support for Hamas against Israel, and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed that the Jerusalem proclamation would "be the beginning of the end of Israel." Hamas leaders announced last week that they met with Hizballah leaders together with representatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad to reaffirm their unity against Israel.


Iran and its terrorist proxies aren't alone. "O Allah, liberate our mosque from the occupation's filth," a July Facebook post by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction said. A graphic showed two hands holding the Dome of the Rock. This absolute rejection of Israel's very existence is something too many analysts omit when forecasting doom in the U.S. embassy's move. "Trump's decision fulfilled a campaign promise, but it threatened to unravel one of his top foreign-policy pledges: to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians," Robin Wright, a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, wrote in The New Yorker.


Wright cites Khalil Shikaki as an unbiased expert in supporting her thesis. But she fails to mention Shikaki's pivotal role as an intermediary between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group and its U.S. front groups. Wright's Wilson Center colleague and former U.S. peace negotiator Aaron David Miller focused on the issue of trust in the wake of the president's decision. His analysis made zero mention of the unequivocal Palestinian opposition to peace and recognition of Israel. "In a mere 11 minutes, Trump managed to undermine the U.S. role as an effective broker, disrespect Palestinian claims and the sensitivity of the Jerusalem issue and make it harder for Arab states to press the Palestinians and reach out to the Israelis," Miller wrote in a Dec. 11 Politico column…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                





Conrad Black

National Post, Dec. 8, 2017


The American decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an inspired move and the Canadian government’s decision to respond judiciously is very commendable. Nothing useful in the Middle East peace process has occurred in 25 years, but the correlation of forces in the region and the ambitions of the Arab powers have evolved. For decades, Israel’s most fanatical enemies were Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia, and the first two countries have disintegrated and Saudi Arabia is now an Israeli ally with Egypt and against Iran. The Arabs dislike the Palestinians at least as much as they dislike the Jews and the Lebanese Christians — all are considered commercial elites where they have been minorities in Arab countries, and as there are no more Jews and very few Christians in Arab countries, that animosity has abated. For decades the Arab powers used the Palestinian question as a red herring to enflame the Arab masses and distract them from the chronic misgovernment the Arab rulers were inflicting on their peoples. Now, for the first time since the British relinquished Palestine, and Jordan and France vacated Lebanon and Syria, 70 years ago, there is a physical encroachment on the Arab world, from their ancient Persian enemy.


The Arab Spring was nonsense — the notion that democracy can easily take hold where it has never been and no institutions exist to promote it was a fantasy worthy of George W. Bush, whose aggressive championship of democracy handed Lebanon to Hezbollah and Gaza to Hamas, and contributed to the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, where it had been the 900 pound gorilla in the Arab house for 75 years. (By the dumb luck of the Brotherhood’s incompetence, the West dodged the bullet and the Egyptian army took back the government.) The only way forward is authoritarian government seeking economic growth and gradual social progress. This was essentially the course followed by the Shah of Iran, the most enlightened ruler Persia has had since Alexander the Great’s transitory regime 23 centuries ago, and he lost control of events to mad medieval theocrats. Saudi Arabia, a state that has been a joint venture between the House of Saud and the Wahhabi radical Islamic leadership, is now modernizing and becoming a benign and more secular dictatorship, leading the resistance to Iran. The new government of Saudi Arabia has proposed to the Palestinians a settlement of its affairs with Israel less generous than the Israelis have themselves offered, and it implicitly acknowledges that Jerusalem is Israeli.


There will be no significant opposition to this move, apart from festive burnings of American flags and pictures of Donald Trump in the West Bank and Gaza. The Arab masses don’t care what happens to the Palestinians or Jerusalem (and the U.S. will presumably put its embassy in an uncontested section of Western Jerusalem). The Chinese and Russians object because they consider themselves rivals to the United States and are happy when the United States is mired in Middle Eastern conflicts as a prolonged, low-key Vietnam, as it was for 13 years under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. China has no dog in that hunt, and Russia fancies it has a role to play as champion of factions in several of the fictional or failed states in the region. The Western Europeans object because they think they have a role there as former colonial powers. In fact, there has never been a West European post-Second World War policy in that region except to await the American position and then stake out something more favourable to the Arabs.


We have just observed the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which Jews, or at least Israel, have generously celebrated as the first recognition of Israel’s right to a Middle Eastern homeland. In fact, and as I have had occasion to remark in the British House of Lords (I am a member of it), the British, more than any other country, created this mess by selling the same real estate to two buyers at the same time, and inciting the right to possession of both, with the professed ambition to create “a Jewish homeland” without compromising the “rights of the Palestinians.” This was moonshine and Britain checked out, leaving the new Jewish state, established on the motion of Stalin’s U.S.S.R. at the United Nations, seconded by President Truman’s America, to fight for its life. The Jewish people effectively faced a second attempt at annihilation just three years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps.


While the Arab sections of Israel have been under-served, the Arabs enjoy liberties they cannot exercise in any predominantly Arab country and have a large representation in the Israeli Knesset and full civil rights. To some extent, Israel has carried out the second part of the Balfour Declaration and observed Palestinian rights, difficult though it is when the official policy of the Palestinian leadership is the eviction or extermination of the Jews, yet again, and as so often before. It ill behooves Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, to say that President Trump has been “unhelpful.” The British dalliance in the Middle East was a disaster, except for British Petroleum, and ended in the ignominy of Suez in 1956, where Lester Pearson and Louis St. Laurent, with American encouragement, did what they could to salvage any decorum for Britain and France.


This recent and contemporary bunk about Israel as an apartheid state is the last gasp of the useful idiots of primeval anti-Semitism. The Jews are the majority, unlike the Afrikaaners; the Arabs have substantial rights; and Israel was not just admitted to the United Nations as a territory and jurisdiction, like Canada and the United States and other existing countries in 1945 were, but was created by the United Nations as a Jewish state. It is the ultimate, legitimate country. The agitation about Jerusalem as capital is nonsense — the Israeli Knesset and Supreme Court are there and Russia recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in April of this year, which makes their disapproval of Trump’s move this week a bit rich, even by the unvaryingly cynical standards of the Kremlin. Prior to 1967, when the Jordanians ruled East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Jews could not pray at the Western wall, could not attend the Hebrew University at Mount Scopus or be treated at the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, which Jews had founded decades before, and they could not live in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, where their ancestors had lived for 200 generations. Trump has undone the shame of Obama allowing the United Nations last year to condemn Israeli possession of these sites as “a flagrant violation of international law.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


Thousands in Gaza Protest Against Worsening Living Conditions: Dov Lieber, Times of Israel, Jan. 4, 2018—Thousands of Palestinians protested Thursday evening against the deteriorating humanitarian and economic conditions in the Gaza Strip, local media reported, demanding that the Palestinian leadership provide them with solutions.

New in the West Bank: A Credit Boom Waiting for a Real Economy: David Wainer, Bloomberg, Jan. 3, 2018—The Palestinian economy is crippled by restrictions on trade, investments and access to natural resources, but driving around Ramallah you might get the impression it’s booming. Underground parking lots are brimming with Audis and BMWs, residential buildings are popping up at a frenetic pace, and cafes and restaurants are buzzing with customers.

Trump's Jerusalem Move Could Provide a Pathway to Peace: Ahmed Charai, National Interest, Jan. 1, 2018—The view has set in among Westerners that President Donald Trump’s choice to recognize the Israeli capital in Jerusalem isolated the U.S. diplomatically, cost Washington its role as an Israeli-Palestinian mediator and damaged prospects for a peace settlement overall. The evidence: violence in Palestine and Iran-dominated Arab enclaves, protests and official condemnation in other Muslim countries and a counter-resolution at the UN General Assembly.

Palestinians: Always on the Wrong Side: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 3, 2018—The Palestinians have an old and nasty habit of placing themselves on the wrong side of history and aligning themselves with tyrannical leaders and regimes. Every time the Palestinians make the wrong choice, they end up paying a heavy price. Yet, they do not seem to learn from their mistakes.





Time for the US to Send a Message by Cutting UN Funding: Daniel Flesch, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2018— Recent events at the United Nations likely indicate a new tone to deliberations at the international organization.

Trump Should Crack Down on UNRWA, Finally End Fiction of Palestinian ‘Refugees’: Richard Goldberg, New York Post, Dec. 27, 2017— As the UN General Assembly voted to reject America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, US Ambassador Nikki Haley issued a stern warning…

UNESCO Indulges Anti-Semitism: Sean Durns, JNS, Dec. 12, 2017— In October, the U.S. State Department notified the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that America would be withdrawing from the U.N. body.

Aharon Appelfeld, Acclaimed Israeli Novelist and Holocaust Survivor, Dies at 85: New York Times, Jan. 4, 2018— Aharon Appelfeld, a prolific Israeli novelist and Holocaust survivor whose works examined the lost world of European Jews and the new lives they pursued in Israel, died on Thursday. He was 85.


On Topic Links


A Crystal Ball on 2018: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2018

America Has Sometimes Stood Proudest at the UN When it has Stood Alone: Stephen Daisley, Spectator, Dec. 22, 2017

Nikki Haley Takes on World Government: Seth Lipsky, New York Post, Dec. 20, 2017

Bye UNESCO: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24, 2017




Daniel Flesch

Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2018


Recent events at the United Nations likely indicate a new tone to deliberations at the international organization. Driven by their frenzied attempt to demonize and delegitimize Israel, many of the UN’s member states improperly injected themselves into a matter of sovereign US policy —  and, as a result, tried to humiliate the United States. As a consequence, the US should substantially cut its financial contributions to the United Nations.


On December 18, the US vetoed an Egyptian-drafted UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution that expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.” The “recent decision” was announced in President Donald Trump’s December 6 speech, in which he declared that the United States “officially recognize[s] Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” The other 14 members of the UNSC all voted in favor of the resolution. Seeking recourse after falling short at the UN’s highest body, on December 20, Yemen and Turkey — as the respective chairs of the Arab Group and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — brought the resolution before the UN’s General Assembly (GA), where no country can exercise a veto. Although GA resolutions have no enforcement mechanism, they often serve as a litmus test of world opinion. And the resulting vote was unequivocal: 128 in favor and 9 against, with 35 abstentions.


That an anti-Israel resolution passed in the General Assembly is no surprise; Abba Eban, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, once famously remarked that if Algeria introduced a resolution stating that the world was flat — and that Israel had flattened it — the resolution would pass by a vote of 164 to 13, with 26 abstentions. However, the December 20 resolution should particularly concern the US — not simply because the resolution is anti-Israel, but because it seeks to interfere with a matter of internal US policy. Where a nation decides to locate its embassy is a sovereign act, and one that is not within the purview of the United Nations. In his speech, President Trump rightly noted that every country has the right to choose its own capital. Likewise, every nation has the right to determine the location of its embassies.


The decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem was first legislated by Congress in the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. Furthermore, in June of this year, the Senate passed a resolution (90-0) recognizing that “Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel,” and called on the president to “reaffirm the Jerusalem Embassy Act … and abide by its provisions.”


Far from a reflexive, compulsive act by a non-traditional president, Trump’s decision simply affirmed what has already been American policy for more than two decades; furthermore, it’s a position that enjoys broad support from elected officials on both sides of the aisle. Understood in this context, it is clear that the General Assembly vote was not just an admonition of an American president or an effort to humiliate the US, but a provocative attempt to repudiate the sovereignty of the American people.


Moreover, the UN needlessly inserted itself despite the clear absence of direct, tangible policy consequences. As host to Israel’s parliament, Supreme Court, prime minister and most Israeli government agencies, it is understood that Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital, irrespective of final parameters of any peace agreement with the Palestinians — including the most generous Israeli peace plan in 2008, which offered eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. Trump also noted that his decision does not “reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement…that is acceptable to both sides.” In short, it does not change the facts on the ground.


The second notable development is the length to which UN member states went to pass this latest anti-Israel resolution. For comparison, the last time that the US issued its Security Council veto was in February 2011. Then, 79 states co-sponsored a draft resolution that demanded Israel cease building settlements in and around Jerusalem. The resolution failed 14-1, yet not one of the 79 cosponsors sought recourse in the General Assembly, where passage may well have carried significant consequences for Israel. For example, the EU could have increased its campaign to discriminate against, or boycott, products made in the settlements.


In 2017, however, the resolution in question concerns a decision internal to the United States, one that neither affects facts on the ground nor benefits Israel to the detriment of the Palestinians. And yet two different countries did not hesitate to bring Egypt’s resolution before the General Assembly. The obvious purpose of the GA vote was to give certain members of the international community an opportunity not only to reject Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but to effectively reprimand the United States. The fact that Egypt, which receives $1.3 billion annually in US foreign aid, first authored the resolution makes this blatant display of anti-Americanism all the more egregious. The US must act to disincentivize UN member states from future attempts to neutralize its Security Council veto, and to try to humiliate it in the General Assembly.


The US provides 22% ($4 billion) of the UN’s mandatory contributions — far exceeding the contributions from other major countries — for administrative and programs costs, as well as for peacekeeping operations. The remaining $6 billion in US support are voluntary contributions that fund organizations such as UNICEF, the World Food Program and UNRWA (whose existence likely perpetuates the Palestinian conflict).


On December 24, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley offered an initial response to the resolution: that the US will cut the UN’s 2018-19 fiscal year operating budget by $285 million. Admittedly, this reduction is intended to “increase the UN’s efficiencies while protecting [American] interests.” Though a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to discourage the UN’s recent behavior.


The US, in the world of international relations, cannot always expect an unambiguously causal relationship between financial support and policies it wants. However, when illiberal actors hijack the UN, and pursue extraordinary measures to actively interfere with internal US policies, it is time to impose a consequence: reduced funding to the United Nations.







Richard Goldberg

New York Post, Dec. 27, 2017


As the UN General Assembly voted to reject America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, US Ambassador Nikki Haley issued a stern warning: We’ll remember this the next time you come calling for more hard-earned American taxpayer dollars. Most nation-states called her bluff, leaving many to wonder what comes next. If President Trump wants to use his financial leverage at the United Nations to strike at the heart of the anti-America, anti-Israel institutional infrastructure, he should look no further than the agency responsible for Palestinian refugees: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.


By most definitions, refugees are those forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence. Nearly every refugee in the world is cared for by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, whose ultimate goal is repatriation, resettlement and integration. The exception? Palestinian refugees. Arab states insisted on a different definition for Palestinian-Arab refugees of the Israeli War of Independence — and a different agency to care for them. Today, millions of people are referred to as “Palestinian refugees” even though the only home they, and in many cases even their parents and grandparents, have ever known is either a refugee camp or an Arab host nation like Jordan.


Rather than use the billions of dollars of international assistance provided since 1950 to resettle and integrate Palestinian-Arab refugees — just as Israel successfully resettled and integrated Jewish refugees from the Middle East, North Africa and the Soviet Union — UNRWA’s mandate has always been to keep Palestinians as perpetual refugees. In truth, it’s not a refugee agency but a welfare agency, which keeps millions of people in a permanent state of dependency and poverty — all while feeding Palestinians an empty promise that one day they’ll settle in Israel.


Yet the United States remains the agency’s largest single-state donor. Unfortunately, every time Congress tries to expose the fiction of “the Palestinian refugee,” it runs up against a State Department fiercely protective of UNRWA and its mythology. In 2012, an amendment to the annual State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill asked the Obama administration a simple question: How many of the Palestinians currently served by UNRWA were personally displaced by the 1948 war? The point was to confirm to the world that there are only a relative handful of true Palestinian refugees still alive who may be entitled to repatriation or compensation. The rest, the descendants, are impoverished Palestinian-Arabs who will either become citizens of a future Palestinian state or be absorbed by Arab host nations.


While an official report was eventually sent to Congress, its contents were kept classified to keep the American public from knowing the truth. The Trump administration can take a giant step toward Middle East peace by declassifying that report, updating it and formally adopting a definition for Palestinian refugees that makes a clear distinction between refugees displaced by the 1948 war and their descendants.


The administration and Congress should work together to change the way America funds UNRWA, making clear to taxpayers how much money goes to refugee assistance and how much subsidizes a culture of welfare and terrorism. Future funding of the agency should be tied to a clear mission of resettlement, integration and economic self-sufficiency. A timetable and work plan should be established for UNRWA’s integration into UNHCR. Conditions should be set in the annual foreign bill, giving Haley the leverage she needs to force changes in the agency’s next biennium budget.


Nations of the world showed their true colors last week. Far too many cared more about castigating Israel than their relationship with the United States. UNRWA is a case study in the institutional bias that America helps fund at the United Nations. Shining a light on this agency and making it a centerpiece of a new reform agenda would be a victory for American taxpayers and a defeat for the international movement to castigate our closest ally in the Middle East.          





Sean Durns

JNS, Dec. 12, 2017


In October, the U.S. State Department notified the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that America would be withdrawing from the U.N. body. The U.S. cited the need for fundamental reform, mounting arrears and “continuing anti-Israel bias” at the organization. But the problem is much deeper: UNESCO denies Israel’s very right to exist, a fact that its defenders would do well to acknowledge if they’re serious about reforming the agency.


In recent commentaries in The Hill and elsewhere, some have obfuscated UNESCO’s efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Commentators such as Dan Wagner, a special adviser to the UNESCO director-general, have minimized the organization’s troubling agenda, stating, “When it comes to Israel and some other hot-button political issues, the majority of UNESCO member nations and the U.S. have sometimes found themselves on opposite sides.” The reason? “Because UNESCO—as the U.S. insisted at its founding—is a fully democratic body that gives each member nation a single vote,” according to Wagner, “the majority truly does rule.” Yet this omits that the majority of UNESCO member nations have engaged in, or passively enabled, efforts to single out Israel. That it was done via “majority rule” hardly makes it any better, as the history of anti-Semitism regrettably illustrates.


UNESCO claims that it aims to “contribute to the building of peace,” and lists “fostering cultural diversity” and “intercultural dialogue” as some of its top objectives. But as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and others have documented, UNESCO has engaged in political warfare against Israel, seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state and erase the Jewish people’s historical connection to their ancestral homeland. For example, on April 15, 2016, UNESCO adopted a resolution that removed any Jewish historical ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall area in Jerusalem, referring to the former as the “al-Aqsa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif” and the latter as “al-Buraq Plaza.” The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. The existence of both structures—as verified by archaeologists—predates the founding of Islam by hundreds of years. UNESCO not only sought to strip these holy sites of their Jewish identity, but condemned Jewish visits and policing of the sites.


This politically motivated resolution is just one of many in UNESCO’s campaign against Israel. By singling out Israel for opprobrium—including during a period in which Islamists are targeting ancient sites throughout the world—UNESCO shows its bias. In October 2016, UNESCO passed another resolution that omitted mention of any Jewish connection to Jewish holy sites, referring to them only in Arabic and Muslim terms. That resolution charged Israel with being an “occupying power” in Jerusalem—a city that is not once mentioned in Islam’s Quran, but which has been central to Judaism for thousands of years.


As CAMERA Senior Analyst Ricki Hollander has noted, “This historical revisionism and attempted religious suppression is an affront to Jews and Christians alike as these sites are central to both religions.” In doing so, UNESCO blatantly takes the side of the Palestinian Arab leadership, which has sought to expunge any Jewish—and therefore important Christian—connections to Jerusalem’s holy sites. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, for example, called the Jewish history of Jerusalem a “delusional myth” in an Aug. 1, 2015, speech that was aired on the official PA TV station. By passing politicized resolutions, UNESCO serves the objectives of the PA and other entities that routinely attack the Jewish state and, in the PA’s case, routinely incite anti-Jewish violence.


Indeed, in the speech noted above, Abbas falsely claimed that Jews held designs to “rid” Jerusalem of the al-Aqsa mosque, located on the Temple Mount. As the Middle East analyst Nadav Shragai has noted, this libel has long been used by Palestinian and Arab rulers to provoke attacks against Jerusalem’s Jewish residents. True to form, Abbas’s remarks were followed shortly thereafter by the so-called “stabbing intifada” in which dozens of Israelis were attacked, and in some instances murdered, with bats, knives, rocks, vehicles and firearms, among other weapons. Worse still, in an April 2016 resolution, UNESCO blamed Israel for the terror attacks that followed Abbas’s speech. By contrast, when Palestinians have been caught—including on camera—desecrating religious holy sites like Rachel’s Tomb, Joseph’s Tomb and the Church of the Nativity, UNESCO is often silent despite its stated goal to protect culturally significant sites. In 2013, for example, more than 200 terror attacks occurred at Rachel’s Tomb, where the Jewish matriarch Rachel is believed to be buried; 119 of those attacks included the use of explosives at the sacred site.


In September 2015, four Palestinian terrorists were arrested for plotting an attack on another Jewish sacred site, Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus—the biblical city of Shechem in Samaria. They planned to set off explosives at the site, but were caught and arrested by Israeli security forces despite the fact that the men lived in areas governed by the PA, which is bound by the 1993 Oslo Accords to apprehend terrorists and prevent attacks. This failed to merit a UNESCO resolution. Simply put, UNESCO does not consider Jewish culture and heritage worthy of protection.






New York Times, Jan. 4, 2017


Aharon Appelfeld, a prolific Israeli novelist and Holocaust survivor whose works examined the lost world of European Jews and the new lives they pursued in Israel, died on Thursday. He was 85. Writing in Hebrew, the Romanian-born Appelfeld penned more than 40 books and was one of Israel's most widely translated authors. Appelfeld's "Blooms of Darkness", the tale of an 11-year-old boy hidden from the Nazis by a prostitute, won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in London in 2012. Appelfeld was also awarded the State of Israel Prize for Literature in 1983 and was a Man Booker International Prize finalist in 2013. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, on Twitter, expressed sorrow "about the passing of our beloved writer".


Amos Oz, one of Israel's most prominent novelists, said on Army Radio that Appelfed shied away from graphic depictions of the Holocaust, choosing instead to describe its effect on the lives of his characters. "Appelfeld never wrote about gas chambers, never wrote about executions, about mass graves, atrocities and experiments on human beings. He wrote about survivors before and after. He wrote about people who did not know what was about to happen to them and about people who already knew everything but hardly spoke about it," Oz said on Army Radio. "He didn't want, or he was unable, to write depictions of the horrors – he said that too. They are beyond the ability of human language to express them. You have to approach them indirectly, tiptoeing from afar," said Oz, once Appelfeld's student in a kibbutz.


Appelfeld was a young boy when his mother was killed by the Nazis. He and his father were sent to a concentration camp in Transnistria in an area of Ukraine then under control of the German-allied Romanian forces. Aged 10 at the time, he escaped and spent three years hiding in forests in Ukraine. "I survived in the fields and forests. Sometimes I worked as a shepherd or taking care of broken-down horses," he told The New York Times in 1986. "I lived with marginal people during the war – prostitutes, horse thieves, witches, fortune tellers. They gave me my real education."


After the war, he immigrated to Israel – he learned Hebrew beforehand – and when he was 28 he discovered that his father had survived and they were reunited in Israel. "Even though I spent time on kibbutzim that tried to change me, I did not change. I remained, basically, the Jewish refugee child who survived," he said in an interview with Israel's Haaretz newspaper in 2015. American-Jewish author Philip Roth once described Appelfeld as a "displaced writer of displaced fiction, who made displacement and disorientation a subject uniquely his own". Works by Appelfeld translated into English include "Badenheim 1939" (1978), a tale set in a fictional Austrian resort on the eve of World War Two, and "The Immortal Bartfuss" (1988), a fictional portrait of a troubled survivor in Israel.


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic Links


A Crystal Ball on 2018: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 4, 2018—If you predicted one year ago that America would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Saudi Arabia would allow women to drive, and Avi Gabbay would become Labor Party leader, most people would consider you crazy.

America Has Sometimes Stood Proudest at the UN When it has Stood Alone: Stephen Daisley, Spectator, Dec. 22, 2017—Outvoted on a resolution on Israel, on the wrong side of international opinion, the United States ambassador responded with an intemperate address to the UN General Assembly.

Nikki Haley Takes on World Government: Seth Lipsky, New York Post, Dec. 20, 2017—Could Nikki Haley emerge as our Joan of Arc in the struggle against the folly of world government?

Bye UNESCO: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 24, 2017—Israel will join the United States in removing itself and its funding from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It’s about time.






US Funding of UN Disproportionate: Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom, Feb. 2, 2017 — This may come as a shock…

Trump and the UNRWA Farce: Sol Stern, Israel Behind the News, Feb. 8, 2017— After President Obama greased the wheels for the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlements policy, then President-elect Trump tweeted that “things will be different after January 20th.”

When Will the UN Make the Palestinians Uphold Their Commitments?: Thane Rosenbaum, Algemeiner, Feb. 2, 2017— Welcome to Israel’s world of ethereal expectations — the standard of moral perfection to which it is routinely held, and the dizzying array of double standards to which it is casually subjected.

How the UN is Trying to Sneak its unCanadian ‘Values’ into Canadian Schools: Geoffrey Clarfield, National Post, Jan. 5, 2017 — Millennials are enamoured by the United Nations. Consider the young undergrad, Antonio Soriano who is the UNESCO Delegate for the Harvard National Model United Nations of 2017.


On Topic Links


Is UNRWA Anti-Semitic? (Video): Dr. Asaf Romirowsky, CIJR, Dec. 14, 2016

Report: UNRWA Teachers Incite Terrorism & Antisemitism: UN Watch, Feb. 2, 2017

Report: UNRWA Employees Praise Hitler, Promote Anti-Semitism on Social Media: The Tower, Feb. 7, 2017

Has the Time Come for Amexit From the UN?: Kenneth L Marcus, Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2017                                                                                                                                                  



US FUNDING OF UN DISPROPORTIONATE                                                                              

Clifford D. May

                      Israel Hayom, Feb. 2, 2017


This may come as a shock: It's possible a committee of officials from the Defense, State and Justice departments, as well as the National Security Council, will conduct a review of the disproportionate funding the United States provides to the United Nations and come to the conclusion that American taxpayers should spend less on an organization that is inefficient, corrupt and inimical to American interests.


Nikki Haley, the newly confirmed U.S. ambassador to the U.N., hinted at this radical departure from tradition when she said on Jan. 18 that while she would oppose "slash and burn cuts" to the U.N., she did want to ensure that the U.S. "gets what it pays for." One week later, The New York Times reported that it had "obtained" (in other words, someone in the government had leaked) copies of a "draft" executive order (in other words, an unapproved working document) that would "clear the way to drastically reduce the United States' role in the United Nations and other international organizations."


A serious question: Is the Times correct to assert that paying less would mean playing a reduced role? The U.S. gets one vote on the Security Council, just as Russia and China do. The U.S. gets one vote in the General Assembly, just as Iran and Venezuela do. How much money it forks over won't change that. The Times warned that such cuts "could severely curtail the work of United Nations agencies, which rely on billions of dollars in annual United States contributions for missions that include caring for refugees."


A second serious question: Are there no other nations that could pick up the slack when it comes to funding efforts to care for refugees? No European nations, no members of the Arab League or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation? The British Guardian jumped into the controversy, reporting that "U.S. allies have reacted with a mix of alarm and skepticism." An unnamed "senior European diplomat" said: "It would potentially be brutal." No one should be so cynical as to think that unnamed senior European diplomats would throw such terms around lightly. Should the president sign the draft order, funding could be terminated to any international agency that contributes to systematic violations of human rights, is controlled by a state that sponsors terrorism, supports activities that circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran or North Korea, gives full membership to the Palestinian Authority, or funds abortions.


Third serious question: Based on the results of the last election, why should such organizations and activities continue to be funded by Washington? The U.N. was founded, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, by statesmen with the best of intentions. Its charter sought to "reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small."


A fourth serious question: Can anyone seriously argue that the U.N. is achieving these goals? Among the recently elected members of the U.N. Human Rights Council are China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The U.N. has never taken any serious action against genocide, as occurred in Cambodia, Rwanda, the Balkans, Sudan and Syria, nor against states that support terrorism, including Iran. Demonizing and delegitimizing Israel appears to be its main occupation.


Since the 1990s, there have been serious allegations of U.N. peacekeepers sexually abusing women and girls in the Central African Republic, Bosnia, Liberia, Cambodia, and other countries. Studies have identified U.N. peacekeepers as the source of the cholera outbreak that killed more than 8,000 people in Haiti a few years ago. Reports of mismanagement, corruption and fraud throughout the organization have been numerous. Calls for reform and transparency have been unavailing. Does this really sound like a good investment for ordinary taxpayers?


Which raises a fifth serious question: How much are we paying? According to estimates by Heritage Foundation scholar Brett D. Schaefer, the U.S. shells out "approximately $8 billion a year in mandatory payments and voluntary contributions to the United Nations and its affiliated organizations." That's more than is contributed to the U.N. by 183 of the U.N.'s 193 members combined. There's also this: Under U.N. rules, the 129 member states that contribute less than 1.3% can pass budgets over the objections of the U.S. and other nations that contribute much more. Schaefer writes: "This explains why so many member states are blase about increases in the U.N. budget. The financial impact on them is miniscule and undermines incentives for them to fulfill their oversight role."


It is telling that not one of the articles I've read in the major media lamenting the possibility of cuts by the U.S. to the U.N. bothers to mention how much the U.N. spends or how much the U.S. pays. A piece in the Times does note that the U.S. provides the lion's share of the funding for U.N. peacekeeping operations, adding: "At least one of these, the operation in southern Lebanon, directly serves Israeli interests by protecting the country's northern border, though the draft order characterizes the funding cuts as serving Israeli interests."…[To Read the full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Sol Stern

Israel Behind the News, Feb. 8, 2017


After President Obama greased the wheels for the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlements policy, then President-elect Trump tweeted that “things will be different after January 20th.” I didn’t vote for Trump, but for the sake of restoring some sanity to America’s Middle East policies, I fervently hope he fulfils that promise.


To make a real difference, our next president needs to understand how the United Nations’ hostility to the Jewish state is rooted in perverse institutions that have been abetted by previous US administrations. The most glaring example of this is the inaptly named United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). With its US$1.3 billion budget (30% of which comes from US taxpayers), this agency actually perpetuates the refugee problem it was created to solve, while promoting Palestinian rejectionism and Jew hatred. Trump will soon have the means to drain the UNRWA swamp. If he does so, he would increase the chances of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.


The United Nations created UNRWA with the noblest of intentions. By the time an armistice agreement ended the first Arab-Israeli war in 1949, roughly 700,000 Palestinians had fled (or were driven) from the territories governed by the new State of Israel. The prevailing view at the time was that refugee problems produced by war were best solved through resettlement in the countries to which the refugees had fled. In the aftermath of World War II, 7 million ethnic Germans in Central and Eastern Europe were the victims of brutal ethnic cleansing campaigns approved by the victorious allied powers. On the Indian subcontinent another 3 million people were uprooted in the violent creation of India and Pakistan. These destitute refugees had to make do in their new host countries with virtually no outside aid. Yet, within a decade, there was no longer a refugee problem in Europe or Asia.


Unfortunately, the surrounding Arab countries that launched a war of conquest against the Jewish state – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq – refused to accept any responsibility for the welfare of their Palestinian brothers who were the big losers in the conflict. That’s when the UN – led by the United States – generously stepped in. The 1949 General Assembly resolution establishing UNRWA called for “the alleviation of the conditions of starvation and distress among the Palestine refugees.” Yet the resolution also stated that “constructive measures should be undertaken at an early date with a view to the termination of international assistance for relief.” In other words, the new refugee agency’s mission was to be temporary.


Flash forward 66 years. The original 700,000 Palestinians leaving Israel have now been magically transformed into a mini-state of 5.6 million “refugees” registered with UNRWA. The “temporary” UN agency has been transformed into a bloated international bureaucracy with a staff of 30,000, almost all of whom are Palestinian refugees themselves. Less than 5% of UNRWA’s clients ever lived in Israel, but the agency’s regulations state that all patrilineal descendants of the original displaced persons shall retain their refugee rights in perpetuity. Nor does UNRWA seem to be troubled by the fact that 40% of its camp residents are citizens of Jordan and Lebanon, and shouldn’t even be considered refugees under accepted international law.


The unchecked growth of UNRWA is a classic case in international politics of the economic principle of “moral hazard”. By providing a social welfare safety net, the UN enables the Palestinian leadership to undermine efforts to solve the underlying conditions that created the refugee problem in the first place. Palestinian rejectionism is thus rendered risk-free. In turn, UNRWA nurtures Palestinian extremism, yet never is held accountable by the agency’s donor nations.


The original sin was the world body’s unprecedented decision to create a single agency dedicated to dealing exclusively with one national group of refugees. Only the Palestinians who left Israel, a mere trickle of the post-World War II refugee flood, were designated as specially approved victims deserving of aid and support by the international community. To paraphrase Marx, this misguided policy created an historic tragedy, with elements of farce. It’s not only the billions of dollars and millions of lives that have been wasted over the past half century in the squalid refugee camps. It’s also that the easily solvable problem of the 1948 refugees was allowed to fester and then become the single greatest obstacle (no, President Obama, it’s not Jewish settlements on the West Bank) to a peaceful solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.


In the 59 UNRWA refugee camps on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a daily drama of redemption and return is played out. The Palestinian Nakba narrative (i.e. the 1948 “catastrophe”) and the myth of eventual “return” are nourished under the approving eyes of UNRWA teachers and social workers. Generations of Palestinian children have learned in UNRWA schools that their totally innocent forbearers were driven out of their homes by the conquering Zionists. Yet they are also told never to lose hope, because the day is not far off when they will be returning in victory to their ancestral homes in Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, and the other places throughout the Jewish state where their people lived in peace and harmony.


An extraordinary documentary produced by Israeli journalist David Bedein graphically illustrates how this destructive culture of the Nakba is actively promoted in the UNRWA camps. In the video, children at an UNRWA summer camp can be seen chanting that they will soon be returning to the villages from which their ancestors were driven by the Jews. They sing martyrdom songs and praise suicide bombers. An UNRWA teacher promises a classroom of children as young as ten: “We will return to our villages with power and honour. With God’s help and our own strength we will wage war. And with education and Jihad we will return.” Speaking to the camera, a teenage Palestinian girl announces: “I dream that we will return to our land and with God’s help Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] will achieve that goal and we will not be disappointed.”…

[To Read the full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Thane Rosenbaum

Algemeiner, Feb. 2, 2017


Welcome to Israel’s world of ethereal expectations — the standard of moral perfection to which it is routinely held, and the dizzying array of double standards to which it is casually subjected. This is all the more tragically absurd when compared with the zero standards by which the world judges the Palestinians. When it comes to holding Palestinians accountable for their misdeeds or noncompliance, the international community merely shrugs and offers them the proverbial “Palestinian pass.”


Take, for instance, the miserably misguided UN Security Council Resolution 2334. Setting aside its many contradictions from UN Security Council 242, which for decades stood as the basis upon which the exchange of land for peace would end the Middle East conflict, this new resolution directly indicts Israeli settlements as a “major obstacle” to the two-state solution. The resolution claims that these settlements have “no legal validity,” but it also has something to say about terrorism and violence.


Resolution 2334 calls for “immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation.” Unfortunately, it castigates no particular party, as if terrorism is an Israeli preoccupation — as if Israeli children are being taught that Palestinian children are pigs and monkeys, instead of the other way around. The resolution specifically condemns Israel for its settlements; Palestinians, however, are blamed for nothing in particular. If one didn’t know better, or simply wished to remain in an alternate reality, he might believe that terrorism is Israel’s fault, too. No one should be surprised by this omission of responsibility. When it comes to the Palestinians, the international community always looks the other way. Even Resolution 242 instilled a legacy of focusing on Israeli withdrawal from territories, and treading more gently on what is expected of Arabs in return.  Specifically, under Resolution 242, Israel must withdraw from territories, but there must also be a “termination of all claims or states of belligerency,” mutual recognition, and “the right to live in peace within secure boundaries.”


Whenever someone self-righteously points to UN resolutions and expresses moral outrage that Israel still “occupies” the West Bank, he is, unwittingly at best, and maliciously at worst, applying obligations against Israel unilaterally — while ignoring the mutually reinforcing obligations that these UN resolutions imposed on the Arab world. Where is the Palestinian “termination of all claims”? Surely the “right of return,” or the shrill, genocidal chanting of “from the river to the sea,” is not suggestive of a people who understand that Israel is under no duty to surrender any land unless Palestinians are faithful to the terms that apply to them.


Similarly, where is the mutual recognition of Israel in the PLO and Hamas charters? A determination to kill all Jews is not the kind of good faith that these resolutions contemplated. And, finally, when Israeli civilians are tormented by terrorism, and rockets from Gaza, how exactly is Israel’s “right to live in peace within secure boundaries” being honored? It’s not. And yet the world still calls for Israeli withdrawal. The hard gaze is always on the land; meanwhile, the joint exchange for peace, which is no less of an essential requirement, is treated as an illusory promise that no Palestinian is ever obligated to fulfill.


The day after passage of Resolution 2334, the Palestinian Authority celebrated the news with a cartoon on its Facebook page showing a bloody knife thrust into a map of Israel. Clearly, ending violence and incitement is not part of the Palestinian agenda. Indeed, through Palestinian eyes, Resolution 2334 was interpreted not as imposing an affirmative obligation on the Palestinians, but rather granting them an additional license to kill — as if they required any further motivation.

[To Read the full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





                           HOW THE UN IS TRYING TO SNEAK ITS


                                                     Geoffrey Clarfield

                                             National Post, Jan. 5, 2017


Millennials are enamoured by the United Nations. Consider the young undergrad, Antonio Soriano who is the UNESCO Delegate for the Harvard National Model United Nations of 2017. He writes: “Dear Delegates, Welcome to Harvard National Model United Nations 2017! My name is Antonio Soriano, and it is my honour to serve as the Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)…UNESCO aims to establish peace that is built not only on political and economic agreements but also on humanity’s morality and the concept of intellectual solidarity…Don’t hesitate to email me with any question.”


So here is my question for Soriano, “How well does UNESCO do its job?” The answer is not very well. Despite its penchant for making bizarre announcements about Zionism, or things like its now defunct, “new world information order,” the core business of UNESCO is actually the conservation of natural and cultural sites around the world. Most UNESCO heritage sites do not have management plans, budgets and priorities. The rush to bestow a site in a developing country with the UNESCO cachet very often creates unsustainable mass tourism. The ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat is a case in point. This formerly isolated archaeological gem in the jungles of Cambodia is now surrounded by 300 hotels. The sheer volume of visitors is destroying the site itself. But this is not the concern of UN bureaucrats. It does not matter to them if their programs fail or succeed.


Consider the sad case of the majestic pre-Columbian ruins of Monte Alban in Mexico’s southwestern state of Oaxaca. The civil unrest of 2006 triggered looting and site destruction. Although the site has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1987, somehow it has not made it to UNESCO’s “endangered list.” One must ask why? Indifference, incompetence or what? Then there is the case of Toshiro Nakamura, a wealthy Japanese businessman who lobbied to have an old Japanese mine site turned into a UNESCO heritage site. Before the site was registered it attracted 15,000 visitors a year. The year after it was registered, this remote area of Japan was overwhelmed by one million tourists. Despite all this, every year the governments of Canada and the U.S. still continue to give millions of our taxpayers’ dollars to UNESCO.


The most recent and high-profile failure of UNESCO has been in Syria and Iraq. It is the express goal of the Islamic State to destroy as much of the pre-Islamic architectural past as possible. ISIL’s most spectacular act of archaeological vandalism was when it destroyed the classical remains of Palmyra (a UNESCO World Heritage site) in Syria in October 2015. Its archaeological director, Khaled al Asaad, was recently beheaded by ISIL for refusing to show him where he had hidden pre-Islamic antiquities. Another high-profile UNESCO failure involves Jerusalem: Following lobbying by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, UNESCO now claims that there are no ancient Jewish monuments in Jerusalem.


Having failed to successfully and “sustainably” to protect the world’s wild places and architectural heritage, UNESCO has now entered a new field called “intangible cultural heritage.” This includes music and the field of ethnomusicology. If UNESCO takes over this field, we can be sure that in the spirit of political correctness not all music will be treated equally. Will King David’s Psalms, written in Jerusalem and still sung in the synagogues of Jerusalem and at the Western Wall (of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem) be labelled colonial, imperialist, historical and musicological fictions?


UNESCO has plans for Canada and other Western countries. It would like to put itself in charge of the education of our children, if we let it.  This is not a “Model UN.” It is the UN muscling in on our schools and curriculum. If you go to the Canadian UNESCO website you will find ASPNET, its “associated schools project network.” These schools in various provinces in Canada are supposed to endorse UNESCO’s “values” and apparently adjust their curricula accordingly. On its website we read: “Build support and commitment to the values, work and principles of UNESCO from the school administration, the school district administration, the staff, the student body and parents…This includes designating a key contact for UNESCO activities at the school level, and where possible, at the student level.”


More than 80 schools across Canada have joined this network. They would like hundreds if not thousands more to join them. I am hoping that if any of the supporters of ASPNET read this article, they will do their homework and write to Soriano. However, they should, first of all, pull their schools out of the ASPNET network and share with Soriano the realities of UNESCO; it is just another useless and grossly inefficient UN organization. Canada’s $10-million-a-year UNESCO subsidy could be better spent within our own borders educating Canadian students about what really goes on at UNESCO, among other things. The UN is no model; nor should we encourage model UNs.




On Topic Links


Is UNRWA Anti-Semitic? (Video): Dr. Asaf Romirowsky, CIJR, Dec. 14, 2016—Dr. Asaf Romirowsky is the Executive Director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East

Report: UNRWA Teachers Incite Terrorism & Antisemitism: UN Watch, Feb. 2, 2017—Before a joint subcommittee hearing today of the U.S. Congress concerning the U.N., Israel, and the Palestinians, the director of the independent monitoring group UN Watch will testify and present a new report showing 40 alarming new cases of UNRWA school teachers in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria whose Facebook pages incite to Jihadist terrorism and antisemitism, including by posting Holocaust-denying videos and pictures celebrating Hitler.

Report: UNRWA Employees Praise Hitler, Promote Anti-Semitism on Social Media: The Tower, Feb. 7, 2017—The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, has frequently been criticized for employing teachers and utilizing textbooks that promote anti-Semitism, as well as the fact that the terror organization Hamas has sometimes used its schools to hide its weapons.

Has the Time Come for Amexit From the UN?: Kenneth L Marcus, Algemeiner, Jan. 23, 2017—As British Prime Minister Theresa May plans a Brexit from the EU, Americans may soon ask what kind of exit we want from another international institution.













We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 




EU Gives Hamas Green Light to Attack Israel: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 22, 2014— Less than 48 hours after a top European Union court ruled that Hamas should be removed from the bloc's list of terrorist groups, supporters of the Palestinian Islamist movement responded by firing a rocket at Israel. The attack, which did not cause any casualties or damage, did not come as a surprise.

Hamas's International Triangle of Bases: Gaza, Turkey and Qatar: Yaakov Lappin, IPT News, Dec. 18— In recent years, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has developed into a truly international entity. Today, it enjoys three territorial bases of operation: Gaza, the seat of the Hamas regime, Turkey, and Qatar.

America's Palestine Refugee Policy Is Insane: Asaf Romirowsky & Alexander Joffe, National Interest, Nov. 9, 2014 — One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

‘Freedom of Speech’ Under Abbas-led Palestinian Authority: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Dec. 17, 2014— In a society where a land owner is sentenced to death for selling his property as he chooses, it is no surprise to find other freedoms lacking as well.


On Topic Links


Iran Accelerates Arming of Hizbullah and Hamas for Possible Clash with Israel:  Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, Dec. 22, 2014

Doubts Emerge Over EU Court’s Justification for Annulment of Hamas Terror Designation: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 17, 2014

Hamas Diverting Reconstruction Material to Rebuilding Terror Tunnels: IPT News, Dec. 19, 2014

'Palestinian Rights Activism' Panel Turns Perpetrators into Victims: Andrew Harrod, Jihad Watch, Dec. 18, 2014




EU GIVES HAMAS GREEN LIGHT TO ATTACK ISRAEL                                                                        

Khaled Abu Toameh                                 

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 22, 2014


Less than 48 hours after a top European Union court ruled that Hamas should be removed from the bloc's list of terrorist groups, supporters of the Palestinian Islamist movement responded by firing a rocket at Israel. The attack, which did not cause any casualties or damage, did not come as a surprise. Buoyed by the EU court's ruling, Hamas leaders and spokesmen see it as a "political and legal achievement" and a "big victory" for the "armed struggle" against Israel. Musa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas leader, issued a statement thanking the EU court for its decision. He hailed the decision to remove his movement from the terrorist list as a "victory for all those who support the Palestinian right to resistance." When Hamas leaders talk about "resistance," they are referring to terrorist attacks, such as the launching of rockets and suicide bombings against Israel. In other words, Hamas has interpreted the court's decision as a green light to carry out fresh attacks as part of its ambition to destroy Israel.


The rocket that was fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel only days after the court decision is not likely to be the last. Although the EU court has said that its controversial decision was "technical" and was not a reassessment of Hamas's classification as a terrorist group, leaders of the Islamist movement believe that the move will eventually earn them legitimacy in the international arena. Ironically, the EU court's decision coincided with Hamas celebrations marking the 27th anniversary of its founding. Once again, Hamas used the celebrations to remind everyone that its real goal is to destroy Israel. And, of course, Hamas used the event to display its arsenal of weapons that include various types of rockets and missiles, as well as drones.

Hours before the EU court decision was made public, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar announced that his movement would never recognize Israel. Zahar also made it clear that Hamas seeks to overthrow the Palestinian Authority [PA] regime and seize control over the West Bank.


The EU court's decision also coincided with increased efforts to achieve rapprochement between Hamas and Iran. Recently, a senior Hamas leadership delegation visited Tehran as part of efforts to mend fences between the two sides. The main purpose of the visit was to persuade the Iranians to resume military and financial aid to Hamas. The visit, according to senior Hamas officials, appears to have been "successful."


"There are many signs that our relations are back on the right track," explained Hamas's Musa Abu Marzouk. "Hamas and Iran have repaired their relations, which were strong before the Syrian crisis." Relations between Hamas and Iran deteriorated due to the Islamist movement's refusal to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Now the Iranians are likely to interpret the EU court decision to remove Hamas from the list of terrorist groups as a green light to resume financial and military aid to the movement. Iran's leaders recently announced that they intend to dispatch weapons not only to the Gaza Strip, but to the West Bank as well, as part of Tehran's effort to support those Palestinians who are fighting to eliminate Israel. Moreover, the EU court's move will also embolden other countries that provide Hamas with political and financial aid, first and foremost Qatar and Turkey. Oil-rich Gulf countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia will now face pressure from many Arabs and Muslims to join Qatar, Turkey and Iran in extending their support to Hamas.


The biggest losers, meanwhile, are Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Over the past few months, the two men have been doing their utmost to undermine Hamas and end its rule over the Gaza Strip. Abbas has been fighting Hamas by blocking financial and humanitarian aid and arresting its supporters in the West Bank, while Sisi continues to tighten the blockade on the Gaza Strip and destroy dozens of smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt. The EU court's decision represents a "severe blow to the Palestinian Authority and Egypt," noted Palestinian political analyst Raed Abu Dayer. "As far is Abbas is concerned, the decision grants Hamas political legitimacy and challenges his claim to be the sole legitimate leader [of the Palestinians]. With regards to Egypt, the European court decision calls into question rulings by Egyptian courts that Hamas is a terrorist organization."


Even if the EU court decision is reversed in the future, there's no doubt that it has already caused tremendous damage, especially to those Muslims who are opposed to radical Islam. Any victory for Hamas, albeit a small and symbolic one, is a victory for the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist groups around the world. The decision has left many Arabs and Muslims with the impression that Hamas, after all, is not a terrorist organization, especially if non-Muslims in Europe say so through one of their top courts. Even worse, the decision poses a real and immediate threat to Israel, as evident from the latest rocket attack. If the Europeans have reached the conclusion that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, then why don't their governments openly invite tens of thousands of Hamas members and supporters to move to London, Paris and Rome? And they should not forget to ask the Hamas members to bring along with them their arsenal of weapons.









Yaakov Lappin                                                                                                            

IPT News, Dec. 18, 2014


In recent years, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has developed into a truly international entity. Today, it enjoys three territorial bases of operation: Gaza, the seat of the Hamas regime, Turkey, and Qatar. According to Israeli intelligence estimates, each base serves a different purpose. The three branches have worked, alternatively, in harmony and in discord, together and independently, in line with the various terrorist activities they pursue. "These are not the same leaderships," one security source said, speaking of the Hamas command structure in each base. "Qatar is home to Hamas's political branch, headed by Khaled Meshaal. In Turkey [in the city of Istanbul], Hamas maintains a military branch headquarters, which sets up terrorist infrastructure. This headquarters is comprised partly of former Hamas prisoners who were ejected from Israel during the [2011] Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. In Gaza, there are both military and political operatives." Each branch plays a unique role, and relations between them fluctuate.


Hamas's headquarters in Istanbul is headed by Salah Al-Arouri, a senior figure in the military wing who is focused on rejuvenating Hamas terrorism cells in the West Bank, and using it as a springboard for orchestrating deadly attacks against Israel. Gaza is home to the main military wing, the Ezzedin Al-Qassam Brigades, whose operatives focus on building up their offensive rocket capabilities, tunnel networks, and, like Arouri, they also seek to also set up West Bank terrorism cells. On Thursday, Hamas held what is described as its largest military exercise since the summer war against Israel. Gaza is also home to Hamas's political wing, headed by Ismail Haniyeh. "They all have their own interests. Those in Gaza have one point of view, those abroad have another. There have, in the past, been disagreements," the source said. One example of such internal conflict was the dispute between Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza over when to end the summer war with Israel. Meshaal pushed Hamas to continue the fighting, despite growing calls by Hamas in Gaza to agree to a ceasefire. The conflicting positions were partly the result of geography: Hamas in Gaza had a better real time understanding of the heavy costs Israel was inflicting on it during the fighting than the overseas Meshaal, who, from his luxurious Qatari surroundings, could afford the privilege of calling for more fighting.


Nevertheless, a basic level of cooperation and consent exists among all three branches. Saleh Al-Arouri in Turkey would not have embarked on a major mission to set up a large-scale Hamas terrorist network in the West Bank, plan atrocities against Israel, and aim to topple the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, without approval from Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza. Cooperation may not always be close, but it exists. "There are connections," the security source said. "Hamas in Gaza is connected to those trying to orchestrate terrorism in Judea and Samaria. There is a circle of cooperation." Arouri could seek and receive assistance from Gaza, as he has done, but he can also try to work independently. "There are no laws," the source stressed.


In recent months, the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] uncovered two intricate Hamas terror plots to inflict mass-casualty attacks on Israelis, and to weaken Fatah in the West Bank. Both were tied to Arouri. This discovery has led Israeli defense chiefs to become more vocal about the Hamas base in Turkey. "Hamas's terrorism headquarters are in Gaza and in Istanbul. It is unbelievable that a NATO member is hosting the headquarters of a terrorist organization in its territory," Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told his Spanish counterpart earlier this month. "We have stopped a coup planned by Hamas, which was organized in, among other places, its Turkish headquarters, against [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen in Judea and Samaria. We saved him from this revolution. Hence, there is much significance and importance in our having freedom to operate security-wise in Judea and Samaria," Ya'alon stated.


Likewise, at the end of November, the Shin Bet and IDF announced that they had broken up a large-scale international Hamas terrorist infrastructure that was in the planning stages of multiple mass-casualty attacks, including an intended bombing of a soccer stadium in Jerusalem. The plot included car bombings, bombing Jerusalem's light rail system, and targeting Israelis overseas. This case illustrates the growing centrality of Istanbul to Hamas terror activities in the West Bank. Hamas's headquarters in Turkey has become a key command and planning center. Earlier this year, the Shin Bet announced the thwarting of another large Hamas network in the West Bank, set up by Saleh Al-Arouri in Istanbul, and headed locally by a Hamas member in Ramallah.


Hamas funneled more than a million shekels [more than $250,000] to terror operatives to prepare a series of attacks, which were designed to allow it to shift attention away from Gaza, and ultimately lead to the fall of the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, according to Israeli investigation. This would be achieved by provoking Israel into harsh responses in the West Bank, destabilizing the area and leading to the toppling of the PA. Hamas has come a long way since the days when its founders, Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the Palestinian territories, set up indoctrination and social support centers. Today, it is an international terrorist organization, which continues to plot new ways to murder and maim Israelis from its various bases, while it dreams of setting up a second Islamist-jihadist regime in the West Bank, as it did in Gaza.







AMERICA'S PALESTINE REFUGEE POLICY IS INSANE                                                     

Asaf Romirowsky & Alexander Joffe                                                                                              

The National Interest, Dec. 19, 2014


One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. By any measurement, Western policy towards United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the internationally funded agency for Palestinian “refugees,” meets that definition. One example is the newly released 2015 State Department Framework for Cooperation Between UNRWA and the U.S. This exercise in repetition occurred in the wake of a war that again exposed UNRWA’s unsavory and illegal activities, from being “shocked” that its schools were used to store Hamas’ rockets and rote condemnations of Israel, to its employees cheering the murder of Israelis. The framework nevertheless represents the American commitment to prolong the existence of UNRWA, established almost exactly 65 years ago.


The bulk of the document deals with UNRWA management. For example, there are the “15 objectives of the Medium Term Strategy” and the “Development of Strategic Response Plans for each of UNRWA’s five fields of operation through a consultative process.” The document also speaks of the “Continued implementation of ongoing management reforms, particularly in the areas of results-based management, resource mobilization, human resources, transition to and management of a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) data management system, and internal communications.” These reflect the professionalization of UNRWA from a temporary relief organization into a multifaceted international organization dealing with Palestinian “basic education, health, relief and social services, microcredit, camp improvement and infrastructure and other assistance,” and “human development of Palestinian refugees by improving living conditions, economic potential, livelihoods, access, and human rights.” In other words, all the things that a Palestinian state should be doing for its citizens at home and outside its borders.


They also take for granted that UNRWA will not only continue to exist through at least 2021 (the end of the next five year planning cycle,) but will also grow in both scope and size, then and beyond. There is no talk about limiting UNRWA’s operations, or turning responsibilities over to the Palestinian Authority or to countries that host Palestinian “refugees.” In fact, the only talk about an end to UNRWA is the boilerplate statement that “The goal of U.S. support to UNRWA is to ensure that Palestinian refugees live in dignity with an enhanced human development potential until a comprehensive and just solution is secured.” Left unsaid is the fact that only the United Nations General Assembly can dissolve UNRWA, and that body’s definition of a “comprehensive and just solution” to the Arab-Israeli conflict is unlikely to be realized anytime soon, if ever. The Framework does make a sideways nod to the reality that the 2014 Gaza War generated some bad publicity for UNRWA, during the course of which American legislators demanded investigations into how Hamas weapons found their way into UNRWA schools. For the State Department the matter is pressing particularly given that Section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (amended) states that “No contributions by the United States shall be made to (UNRWA) except on the condition that (UNRWA) take all possible measures to assure than no part of the United States contribution shall be used to furnish assistance to any refugee who is receiving military training as a member of the so-called Palestine Liberation Army or any other guerilla-type organization or who has engaged in any act of terrorism.”


Thus the new Framework states: “The United States and UNRWA share concerns about the threat of terrorism, including within the context of the United Nation’s firm commitment to counter terrorism and the conditions on U.S. contributions to UNRWA under section 301(c). To this end, UNRWA is committed to taking all possible measures to ensure that funding provided by the United States to support UNRWA is not used to provide assistance to, or otherwise support, terrorists or terrorist organizations. The United States and UNRWA intend to continue to work together throughout 2015 to enhance collaboration and communication on issues related to conformance with conditions on U.S. contributions to UNRWA as detailed in section 301(c). The United States supports UNRWA’s policy to take all possible measures to ensure that staff members understand and fulfill their obligations, under Agency Rules and Regulations, to refrain from prohibited outside activities.” This constitutes an UNRWA commitment to update its human resources manuals, nothing more. There is no mention of UNRWA’s refusal to use U.S. or Israeli terror watch lists to ensure any commitment to combat terrorism.


The unreality is compounded by the still more ludicrous statement that the U.S. “notes with appreciation efforts taken by UNRWA during the course of 2014 to strengthen the Agency’s neutrality compliance, including but not limited to the development of social media guidelines for official UNRWA communications…” Whether the UNRWA spokesman crying on camera while being interviewed constitutes “neutrality compliance” is unclear, as is the celebration of the recent Jerusalem murders of rabbis on the Facebook pages of UNRWA teachers. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect UNRWA employees, the vast majority of whom are Palestinian, to express neutrality. But if that is the case, then the Framework’s endorsement of “UNRWA’s human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance education program” may also be questioned, or at least its implementation. But a deeper look at the document and the background of the American commitment to UNRWA suggests another vast disconnect. The framework states “All U.S. foreign assistance programs are required to demonstrate performance and accountability, and clearly link programming and funding directly to U.S. policy goals.” How prolonging the Palestinian “refugee” issue through the permanent institutionalizing of UNRWA serves U.S. policy goals is mystifying.


Beyond that, UNRWA officials at the top continue to defend the Palestinian “right of return,” in speeches as well as on official web pages, not to mention its pervasive promotion in UNRWA schools. How does promoting the Palestinian ideology that they are entitled to return to places once occupied by parents, grandparents and great-grandparents which are now in Israel, and in the process transform Israel into a Jewish minority state, serve U.S. policy, much less the cause of peace? The new U.S.-UNRWA Framework is foreign policy by inertia. In 2013 that inertia cost $294,023,401, the amount of the U.S. contribution to UNRWA (in addition to $356,700,000 in aid to the Palestinian Authority). U.S. support to UNRWA kept Palestinians in stasis, promoted Palestinian rejectionism, and did not advance the cause of peace, or U.S. policy.





‘FREEDOM OF SPEECH’ UNDER ABBAS-LED PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY                                                 

Hana Levi Julian

Jewish Press, Dec. 17, 2014


In a society where a land owner is sentenced to death for selling his property as he chooses, it is no surprise to find other freedoms lacking as well. But when the latest poll says as many as two-thirds of the population led by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority government fear criticizing their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, one has to wonder. The latest approval rating for Abbas was just 35 percent, according to analysts quoted by the Associated Press. Given those numbers, do the actions taken by the PA leadership – and more to the point, Abbas himself – truly represent the sentiment of the PA population? And if not, can the international community really trust anything said by Mahmoud Abbas?


Today (Wednesday, Dec. 17) Jordan will present a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council on behalf of the PA, demanding that Israel withdraw from all territories conquered in 1967 by November 2016, and the world body recognize the PA as a new independent sovereign country. Mind you, the PA “unity government” is comprised of a covert terror organization (Fatah) and an outright terror organization (Hamas) that is still listed as such by the United States, at least, even though the European Union wimped out this week and removed it from its own list of terror groups. In reality, the PA is ruled by two separate governments — those of Fatah and Hamas — in two completely separate regions — Judea & Samaria and Gaza. Each is completely different and separated from each other geographically and ideologically. It is true, however, they are similar in that each is ruled by its leader with an iron fist. But despite their “unity” each of the rulers is unable to enter each other’s territory without risk to life and limb, even with a bodyguard and a full security team. This chaotic administrative nightmare is supposed to be recognized by the world body as one single independent sovereign country.


Let’s pretend all that is not important anyway. It is a real stretch to believe the resolution will pass and all will happen as Abbas so fervently fantasizes, but for a brief moment in time, let us imagine it does. Who will provide security to the people of the Palestinian Authority — the actual farmers, the merchants, the simple people of the street, and their children? The PA paramilitary police? Really? Until this point, it is the Israeli army that has helped PA security personnel “keep the peace” in areas under their control. Without the IDF terrorists would have long ago overwhelmed those understaffed forces working for Abbas. Hamas would have controlled those areas of Judea and Samaria, as it does in Gaza. Let us be realistic, ladies and gentlemen, and while we are it, let us also acknowledge the truth about so-called “freedom” under Mahmoud Abbas. There is good reason so many PA Arabs are trying desperately to secure work permits for jobs in pre-1967 Israel. They also marry Negev Bedouin or Jerusalem Arabs with blue Israeli identity cards so they can stay there under “family unity” regulations. Very few Arabs pressure Israel to move that security barrier anywhere that would place their own homes within legislative reach of the Palestinian Authority. Last month Abbas jailed two leaders of the PA’s largest labor union for organizing strikes. His security agents monitor social media and threaten those who criticize the PA leader. Fatah continues its purge of Hamas members in Judea and Samaria in a manner reminiscent of that carried out in 2007 by Hamas in Gaza. Abbas has ditched the electoral process – now five years overdue – in order to remain at the helm, allegedly to prevent Hamas from seizing power in Ramallah. But the 79-year-old leader has also fired every PA prime minister or security chief that showed the potential for replacing him, including Salam Fayyad and Mohammed Dahlan. Both had positive relations with the West…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






On Topic


Iran Accelerates Arming of Hizbullah and Hamas for Possible Clash with Israel:  Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, Dec. 22, 2014—In recent months, parallel to the key stages of the nuclear negotiations, Iran has completely removed the secrecy surrounding its provision of rockets and missiles to anti-Israeli terror organizations. Today, Iran frequently and publicly acknowledges this assistance, with no fear of the West’s reaction.

Doubts Emerge Over EU Court’s Justification for Annulment of Hamas Terror Designation: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 17, 2014 —The decision of the European Union General Court to annul the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization has raised concerns that the Palestinian Islamist group will exploit any legal ambiguities over its present status to rebuild its organizational and fundraising network within Europe.

Hamas Diverting Reconstruction Material to Rebuilding Terror Tunnels: IPT News, Dec. 19, 2014 —Hamas is rebuilding its network of underground infiltration tunnels damaged in the war with Israel this past summer, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing an Israel Radio account.

'Palestinian Rights Activism' Panel Turns Perpetrators into Victims: Andrew Harrod, Jihad Watch, Dec. 18, 2014—Israel is a twenty-first century “litmus test of a real commitment to justice,” the “Vietnam,” the “South Africa,” and “moral issue of our time” according to leftwing icon Angela Davis, quoted approvingly by Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi on November 21 before an audience of about fifty.
























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Alexander H. Joffe & Asaf Romirowsky: From Welfare to Warfare

As Operation Protective Edge enters its third week, we have now seen four incidents in the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas that have focused attention on UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), the internationally funded welfare organization for Palestinian "refugees."


The most recent saw three IDF soldiers killed in an explosion at a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic that was located at the opening of a terror tunnel.


Earlier in the week, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in three of its schools in Gaza. Hamas or some other faction had been using the schools while they were closed for the summer; the one available photo shows rockets piled in the back of a classroom, covered with a blanket.


UNRWA properly condemned the act, as did UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who expressed "outrage and regret" at the discovery. But lacking its own munitions disposal capability, UNRWA the apparently returned the rockets to local authorities, presumably Hamas. It later expressed alarm that the other batch had mysteriously gone missing. After being ridiculed for this, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness has now stated that his organization will rely on UN mine disposal experts for future assistance.


One can almost sympathize with UNRWA. Its schools have long been a primary mechanism for teaching the Palestinian narrative of displacement, resentment, and resistance against Israel. But it is doubtful that its international employees like Gunness took the logic to its predictable end and expected schools to actually be used by the "resistance", that is, Hamas, for patently illegal and deadly purposes.


But in a third incident UNRWA's see-no-evil mentality had tragic, indeed deadly, consequences. A school in the Gaza neighborhood of Bet Hanoun where refugees from the fighting had fled was apparently used as a Hamas firing position. The details are unclear except that an explosion killed at least 16 children.


Instantly UNRWA blamed Israel for the deaths. But an Israeli investigation suggests it was a Hamas rocket that fell short, and a just released video shows an Israeli mortar round striking an empty courtyard. Even UNRWA has changed its tune slightly and now claims it does not know who was responsible.


The loss of life is tragic and regrettable, and may or may not have been avoidable. But it is a measure of UNRWA's reflexive anti-Israel bias and instinct to protect itself that it tweeted first and investigated later. The narrative of Israel's unnecessary and violent attack was created and repeated by a world press that cannot see Hamas' human shields, rockets, or tunnels.


Only here and there do reporters let slip that Hamas officials were seen using hospitals as headquarters, that rockets are being stored in mosques and fired from residential neighborhoods and schoolyards, and that Hamas supporters intimidate reporters into silence, beating and even executing critics as "collaborators." There is little wonder the press refuses to question UNRWA more deeply.


UNRWA learned long ago to wave the bloody shirt, proclaim its formal neutrality, and act as unofficial Palestinian spokesmen with the imprimatur of the United Nations. As Hamas' tunnels are being discovered to lead into everyday Gaza residences, however, it is becoming impossible to assert that UNRWA saw nothing and knew nothing. What is clear is that it did nothing until it absolutely had to.


These incidents are the latest illustration of the full integration of UNRWA into Palestinian society. It is the internationally funded education, health, and welfare department, the legal department, and the public relations department, for Palestinian society—in competition with, and often more influential than, the Palestinian Authority. Before the current crisis is over it will undoubtedly launch yet another emergency appeal to expands its role even further.


It is worth emphasizing just how unprecedented the situation really is. On the one hand, there is a United Nations organization created in 1949 for refugee relief providing an ever-increasing range of services to the third or fourth generation of refugee descendants some 65 years later, is utterly unprecedented. And on the other, those third and fourth generation descendants still demand to be regarded as refugees and supported by the international community, while being still forbidden to resettle in the Arab countries where they have lived for decades (except for Jordan). All this is expected to continue until the Palestinians' preferred resolution to the conflict is realized—namely, the end of Israel and their return to a world that no longer exists.


In any post-conflict reconstruction plan for the demilitarization of Gaza and its rebuilding, international donors will be well advised to phase out UNRWA and channel funds to legitimate Palestinian institutions, with an eye to ending more than sixty years of Palestinian welfare dependence. In the meantime, UNRWA should be vigilant about who uses its schools during the summer months, and we should be vigilant about its political claims.

Erol Araf and Frederick Krantz: International Law and Human Shields

Erol Araf & Frederick Krantz

July 17, 2014

The cacophony of voices accusing Israel of breaking "international law" and committing "war crimes" has reached a deafening decibel level. A classic example is Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who entertains serious doubts about Israel's military operation against Gaza on the grounds that it does not comply with international law banning the targeting of civilians. After the pro forma call on both sides to respect the rules of war, she intoned: "International law requires Israel to take all measures to ensure that its attacks are proportional, distinguish between military and civilian objects, and avoid civilian casualties."

She has yet to utter a word on Hamas' rejection of the Egyptian brokered cease fire or commend Israel for the unilateral cessation of hostilities on humanitarian grounds, for six hours, as per the request of the UN and the international community.

The trouble with her interpretation of international law is that it completely ignores the fact that satellites and drones can pinpoint the exact location of missile launches aimed at Israeli cities from the midst of Palestinian schools, mosques, hospitals, homes for the disabled and residential areas. Therefore, her call on Israel to "distinguish between civilian and military targets" is disingenuous. The implication of her statement is that Hamas is launching missiles from military bases outside civilian zones and that Israel, intentionally refusing to attack these missile sites, prefers instead to bomb cities. 

The admonition for distinguishing "between military and civilian objects" should instead have been addressed to Hamas, which directs its missiles not at Israeli military installations but exclusively at Israeli civilians. Moreover Hamas, which places its missile batteries in civilian installations, systematically fails to make the distinction between civilian and military "objects" and as such uses its own civilians as human shields. 

The use of human shields is prohibited under customary international law enshrined in the Fourth Geneva Protocol, Article 28, with respect to protected civilians, and with respect to civilians in general in the Additional Protocol I, Article 51[7]. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in international conflicts "utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations” constitutes a war crime, as outlined in the ICC Statute, Article 8[2][b][xxiii]. 

For example, only yesterday, Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, the UN Relief and Works Agency spokesperson for Palestine Refugees said it found 20 rockets hidden in one of its vacant schools in Gaza and "strongly condemned" whichever Palestinian group had placed them there.

Furthermore, Hamas can also be accused of taking Palestinians living in Gaza hostage. Indeed, under international law, the use of human shields has often been equated with the taking of hostages, which is a crime against humanity resolutely condemned by the Nuremberg Tribunal. This practice is also prohibited by customary international law under Rule 96. 

In addition to incontrovertible satellite and drone data concerning the precise location of missiles launched at almost all major Israeli cities, there is a growing body of compelling evidence against Hamas’s tactic of publicly encouraging civilians to ignore Israeli warnings of impending attacks on residential units used for blatant military purposes. The objective here is twofold: to deter Israeli retaliation and to create "martyrs" for propaganda purposes. Under international law, it is both a war crime and a crime against humanity to position civilians, either voluntarily or under duress, at specific civilian or military locations from whence attacks originate, in order to deter retaliation.       

The other issue Ms Pillay raises is the Doctrine of Proportionality. We wonder if what she has in mind is this: if Hamas launches 1,000 missiles at Israeli civilians, Israel should retaliate with 1,000 missiles of equal payload and range similarly aimed indiscriminately (at Palestinian residents of Gaza)? The UN Human Rights chief obviously is unaware that the Doctrine of Proportionality in war does not apply to terror attacks on the civilian population, or area bombardments that by their very nature do not differentiate between military objectives and civilian targets. 

Indeed, she appears unfamiliar with the Statute of the ICC which reaffirms this by qualifying in Article 8 as a war crime "intentionally directed attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not talking direct part in hostilities." No proportionality is called for in dealing with terror attacks on civilians.

Ms Pillay reminds us of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland whose idea of  human rights can be summed up as "Sentence first–verdict afterwards." Here, Alice's rejoinder is music to our ears: " Stuff and nonsense! The idea of having sentence first!"


Erol Araf is a Montreal writer. Prof. Frederick Krantz is Director,

Canadian Institute for Jewish Research [Montreal & Toronto]

Asaf Romirowsky: The Real Palestinian Refugee Crisis

Perhaps the most insurmountable and explosive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the so-called “right of return”—the demand that millions of Palestinians must be allowed to “return” to the State of Israel under any peace agreement. While Israel has made clear that it cannot agree to this, since it would effectively destroy Israel as a Jewish state, the Palestinians have steadfastly refused to compromise on the issue. This has made the “right of return” the primary obstacle to any peace agreement.


Despite the latest round of peace talks, there is little sign that the Palestinians are willing to change their stance. Indeed, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has unequivocally stated, “Let me put it simply: the right of return is a personal decision. What does this mean? That neither the PA, nor the state, nor the PLO, nor Abu Mazen [Abbas’ nom de guerre], nor any Palestinian or Arab leader has the right to deprive someone from his right to return.” Abbas is by no means alone in this. In fact, whenever it appears that Abbas might waver, the reaction tends to be swift and ferocious.


At one point, for example, Ali Huwaidi, director of the Palestinian Organization for the Right of Return (“Thabit”) in Beirut, lashed out at Abbas, saying, Regardless of Abbas’ statements, the right of return is guaranteed, individually and collectively, through UN resolutions. The refugees will not give up their right no matter where they are living today. Abbas is worried about flooding Israel with five million refugees while Israel has brought one million people from the former Soviet Union and no one complained about this. Our refugees will not accept any alternative to their right to return to their homeland and we do not care what Abbas’ position is.

But how many actual refugees are there? Surely over the years, many of those displaced have passed away, and such status does not normally transfer from generation to generation.

The issue is so emotive because, in many ways, Palestinian identity itself is embodied in the collective belief in a “right of return” to “Palestine.” Along with the belief that resistance to Israel is permanent and holy, Palestinian identity is largely based on the idea that the Palestinians are, individually and communally, refugees; that they have been made so by Israel; and that the United Nations should support these refugees until they can return to what is now Israel.


This belief is passionately safeguarded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The organization was established in 1949 following the failure of the Arab war against Israel’s independence, and its original mandate was to provide services to the approximately 650,000 Arabs displaced by the conflict. Today, it is essentially a massive social welfare system serving millions of Palestinians, primarily in the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. At the same time, its activities go well beyond simple humanitarianism. It plays a distinctly political role in Palestinian society, working to further the cause of Palestinian nationalism through politicized education, activism, anti-Israel propaganda, and other activities.


In effect, UNRWA has come to depend on the refugee problem itself. While the refugees benefit from its services, the organization benefits even more from the refugees. They are, of course, the organization’s raison d’être. UNRWA has no incentive whatsoever to resolve the Palestinian refugee problem, since doing so would render it obsolete. As a result, the agency not only perpetuates the refugee problem, but has, in many ways, exacerbated it. In doing so, it has made Israeli-Palestinian peace all but impossible.

UNRWA’s role in perpetuating and even expanding the refugee problem is a complex one; but, more than anything else, it is the result of the agency’s own definition of a Palestinian refugee—which is unique in world history. The standard definition of a refugee, which applies in every case except that of the Palestinians, includes only those actually displaced in any given conflict. UNRWA has defined a Palestinian refugee as anyone whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” But it has also continually expanded this definition, now stating “the children or grandchildren of such refugees are eligible for agency assistance if they are (a) registered with UNRWA, (b) living in the area of UNRWA’s operations, and (c) in need.”


As a result, the number of official Palestinian refugees—according to UNRWA— has expanded almost to the point of absurdity. The best estimates are that perhaps 650,000 Palestinians became refugees in 1948-1949; but UNRWA now defines virtually every Palestinian born since that time as a refugee. That number now reaches well into the millions. This is quite simply unprecedented. In no other case has refugee status been expanded to include subsequent generations over a period of decades.


UNRWA’s involvement in Palestinian society is equally unique. Its role there has expanded from simple refugee relief to one of the most important and influential Palestinian institutions. In particular, the agency now employs nearly 30,000 people, most of whom are Palestinian. This makes UNRWA the single largest employer in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and indispensable to the Palestinian economy. As such, there is a strong economic incentive to keep the prosperous organization afloat.


It cannot be said that the agency is ungenerous to its subjects. When the world hears words like “refugees” and “refugee camps,” it instinctively pictures desperate people living in tents or shantytowns. This generates automatic sympathy and financial support for organizations like UNRWA, which regularly receives monetary contributions amounting to millions of dollars. All this is due to the belief that these funds provide humanitarian aid and help with the assimilation of Palestinian refugees. In many cases, the reality is entirely different. UNRWA-administered refugee camps are often fully-functioning suburbs of Palestinian cities, with water, electricity, and even satellite television.


UNRWA’s role as a jobs machine and a pillar of the Palestinian economy has led to institutional bloat on a huge scale. Its 30,000 employees, for example, dwarf the approximately 5,000 who work for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), whose remit is the rest of the entire world. The UNHCR mandate, moreover, is clearly focused on the resettlement and rehabilitation of refugees, not on providing services that maintain the status quo. The role played by economic incentives in these organizations is very telling. While UNHCR—forbidden by its mandate to work with Palestinians—has worked to decrease the number of refugees in the world, UNRWA has worked to increase the number of Palestinian refugees, prolonging and exacerbating the problem rather than solving it.


The result of this over-60-year-long process is that incentives for the refugees to resettle in Arab countries or elsewhere are minimal, and practically none exist for UNRWA to end its operations. UNRWA states that the Palestinians are an occupied people, and will remain so until the General Assembly declares an end to the conflict; so as long as the Palestinians are refugees, UNRWA is in business. The minute they are not, it disappears.

UNRWA’s flaws have not gone unnoticed, even by members of the organization itself. Indeed, the most important critique to appear in recent years was that of James Lindsay, a former legal advisor and general counsel to the organization. Lindsay worked for UNRWA from 2000-2007 and, after leaving, produced a 2009 monograph for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that caused a firestorm.


Lindsay concluded to much controversy that “the vast majority of UNRWA’s registered refugees have already been ‘resettled’ (or, to use the UN euphemism, ‘reintegrated’),” and that the “only thing preventing citizens from ceasing to be ‘refugees’ is UNRWA’s singular definition of what constitutes a refugee.” Accordingly, Lindsay recommended that UNRWA responsibilities be handed over to Jordan. He acknowledged that legal restrictions on Palestinians being resettled in Syria and Lebanon were difficult, but not impossible to overcome given time and effort.


He also recommended that UNRWA move to a need-based model:
Some might question whether scarce international aid should be used to fund relatively sophisticated programs for Palestinians—not just education and health care, but also microfinance, urban planning, and so forth—rather than, say, food for starving Africans in places like Darfur. Even putting that question aside, why should such services be provided for free to those who can afford to contribute at least a portion of the cost?

Finally, Lindsay suggested that the United States “urge UNRWA to limit its public pronouncements to humanitarian issues and leave political speeches to the political echelons of the United Nations.”


Lindsay’s fairly modest suggestions for reform were not well-received by the organization and its supporters. A press release issued by Andrew Whitley, director of the UNRWA representative office at United Nations headquarters in New York, said, “The agency is disappointed by the findings of the study, found it to be tendentious and partial, and regrets in particular the narrow range of sources used.” It added, “The study ignores the context in which UNRWA operates and the tight line the agency walks due to various pressures…. Someone reading this paper with no background would assume that the Israeli government was a benign actor. No mention is made of the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”


Responses from other UNRWA officials were equally harsh. Chris Gunness, UNRWA’s spokesman in Jerusalem, said that Lindsay “makes selective use of source material and fails to paint a truthful portrait of UNRWA and its operations today.” John Ging, head of UNRWA operations in Gaza, attempted to deflect Lindsay’s criticism of negative depictions of Israel and Jews in UNRWA textbooks. In effect, he blamed the Palestinian Authority for the problem, saying Lindsay had “no basis to say that it is UNRWA’s decision because our mandate is given to us. I agree that it is a political failure, but we don’t set up the mandate, we are only the implementers.” This echoed previous UNRWA responses to similar evidence as far back as the late 1960s.


Critiques like Lindsay’s have had some political effect, but attempts at forcing institutional reform have tended to be undertaken piecemeal, rather than tackling the overall problem. Since the 1960s, for example, American lawmakers have tended to focus specifically on one of UNRWA’s darkest legacies: Its relationship with terrorism. As far back as Section 301(c) of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act (P.L. 87-195), as amended, Congress decreed,
No contributions by the United States shall be made to [UNRWA] except on the condition that [UNRWA] take[s] all possible measures to assure that no part of the United States contribution shall be used to furnish assistance to any refugee who is receiving military training as a member of the so-called Palestine Liberation Army or any other guerrilla type organization or who has engaged in any act of terrorism.


This was certainly an important issue. Unfortunately, UNRWA’s relationship with Palestinian terrorism has been a long one, particularly after the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) achieved both international political status and practical authority over the UNRWA refugee camps. Through agreements with the government of Lebanon in 1969 and its eventual UN status as a formal observer, the PLO gained a quasi-governmental role in local and international Palestinian affairs. In his article, “UNRWA and the Palestinian Nation-Building Process,” Jalal al-Husseini wrote that the PLO soon began using UNRWA facilities as terrorist bases.

This continues to be a problem today. Lindsay himself noted, UNRWA has taken very few steps to detect and eliminate terrorists from the ranks of its staff or its beneficiaries, and no steps at all to prevent members of terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, from joining its staff. These failings have occurred not because UNRWA consciously supports terrorism, but rather because it is not particularly concerned about the issue, its main focus being the provision of services and protection of Palestinian refugees.


The American government has not ignored this issue. Since the 1970s, a number of Congressional resolutions have sought to limit or cut off funding to UNRWA; and Congress regularly introduces language into appropriations bills requiring UNRWA to promote transparency, self-policing, and accountability with regard to vetting employees for terrorist connections, as well as eliminating the promotion of terrorism in educational materials. Similar provisions are regularly written into United States Agency for International Development budgets—administered by the State Department—in regard to the Palestinian Authority.

High-ranking members of Congress have also taken the problem up directly with the UN. In 2002, for example, a letter from U.S. Representative Tom Lantos—then the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee—to then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, complained, “UNRWA officials have not only failed to prevent their camps from becoming centers of terrorist activity, but have also failed to report these developments to you.” Annan simply replied, “The United Nations has no responsibility for security matters in refugee camps, or indeed anywhere else in the occupied territory.”


Perversely, UNRWA now claims to have solved the problem by checking its employees against watch lists of al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects; yet it remains unwilling to use lists of Hamas, Hezbollah, or other Palestinian terrorist groups provided by Israel. There seems to be a good reason for this. Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University—and a ferocious advocate of the Palestinian cause—has written,
Humanitarian and charitable institutions throughout Palestine employ personnel regardless of sectarian or political affiliation and offer services on a similar basis. Thus, UNRWA, NGO-run and public hospitals and clinics, for example, employ members of different political groups such as Fatah, the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, without reference to their belonging to a specific group.


A serious obstacle to effective action on the issue is that Congressional stipulations are regularly circumvented by presidential waiver, in which the president decrees that continuing aid to UNRWA and other Palestinian entities is in the national security interest of the United States, regardless of terrorist connections or structural concerns.


But this may no longer be enough. As pointed out in Congressional Research Service Report RS40101, concerns about UNRWA-connected terrorism have increased dramatically since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. It seems likely that, with the recent unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah, these concerns will only increase. Indeed, as U.S. funding of Palestinian institutions has escalated in recent decades, American lawmakers have repeatedly questioned members of the executive branch about possible diversion of U.S. funds to terrorism and the presence of terrorists in U.S.-funded entities.


As a result, Congress has taken several initiatives to hold UNRWA accountable. In 2009, Congressmen Mark Kirk and Steve Rothman introduced provisions for UNRWA accountability into relevant appropriations bills. They called for transparency and responsibility, and sought to ensure that the monies UNRWA receives do not fund terrorism in any way. This would finally have brought UNRWA funding into compliance with the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act. The bill also underscored the need to evaluate textbooks used in UNRWA schools in order to ascertain that they do not contain “inflammatory and inaccurate information about the United States and the State of Israel, anti-Semitic teaching, as well as the glorification of terrorists.” The amendment died in committee. In the five years since, direct U.S. funding of UNRWA has only increased.


A new proposal from now-Senator Kirk, however, might go a long way toward bringing about real reform; in particular, because it goes well beyond the specific issue of terrorism. It proposes a more precise definition of refugee status, to be specified in a Memorandum of Understanding with UNRWA. Under the proposal, if UNRWA wishes to continue receiving American aid, it would have to agree that “a Palestinian refugee is defined as a person whose place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who was personally displaced as a result of the 1948 or 1967 Arab-Israeli conflicts, who currently does not reside in the West Bank or Gaza, and who is not a citizen of any other state.”


This would mean that only those displaced by war could be considered refugees, and the status would no longer be heritable, bringing UNRWA into compliance with the international definition of refugee status. The amendment would also require the Secretary of State to report to Congress about the notoriously slippery number of refugees and the measures being taken to enforce the new definition (this wouldn’t necessarily mean that those accurately classified as refugees would be the only ones eligible for UNRWA services). There is no doubt that, while it would not solve all of UNRWA’s problems, it would be an excellent start.

For over six decades, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has been a unique and uniquely troubled institution. It has unilaterally redefined the international definition of a refugee, expanded its mandate to include the construction of a massive social welfare and employment system, made itself the basis of at least one economy and an essential part of another, and allowed itself to become part of several terrorist movements, some dedicated to the destruction of a UN member state. Rather than being part of any conceivable solution, in other words, UNRWA sustains the problem it was supposed to help solve.


But more than anything else, UNRWA is the institutional foundation of one of the most persistent obstacles to peace in the Middle East. In its relentless defense of its own unique definition of a Palestinian refugee and its complete refusal to reconsider its demand for the “right of return,” it buttresses and perpetuates the Palestinians’ eternal sense of victimhood and the refugees’ narrative. This narrative accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the refugee problem, blaming it entirely on Israel, regardless of the decisions and actions of Palestinians and their leaders. Due to its economic and institutional interests in doing so, UNRWA must continue to maintain and even expand the refugee problem until the refugees’ complete and total repatriation and compensation. This demand for the “right of return” is clear and absolute and has not changed to this day. Over and over again, it has torpedoed any possibility of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.


It seems clear that the UN erred when it created a UN institution devoted exclusively to one population, with a policy and structure in contradiction to those of all similar institutions. This mistake, however, can be rectified.


The simplest solution would be to eliminate UNRWA and immediately subordinate all its agencies to the UN High Council on Refugees. This would be equitable and efficient–but since the prospects of such a decision being effected by the UN are slim to none, it is probably more sensible to look for solutions that can be implemented directly by the United States.

Enacting Congressional demands for greater accountability and, especially, bringing UNRWA’s refugee policies into line with those of the rest of the world, would be essential steps toward meaningful reform. At the same time, we must strive to decrease UNRWA’s hold on Palestinian society. The services UNRWA currently provides should be slowly handed over to parallel agencies within the UN, which already provide these services to others, but which have no financial or political interests in perpetuating the problem. In particular, the ultimate goal should be to wean the Palestinians off UNRWA’s largesse completely, and shift the responsibility for providing services and employment to the Palestinian Authority. Doing so would not only be good for the Palestinians, but also for the peace process. It appears that peace cannot be achieved without compromise on the “right of return,” and there can be no such compromise until UNRWA is either substantially reformed or entirely dismantled.

UN Agency Promotes Palestinian Agenda: written by Paul Lungen, Canadian Jewish News, Oct. 25, 2013

It is pretty much accepted that around 650,000 to 700,000 Palestinians became refugees during and after creation of the State of Israel. Whether they left on their own or were pushed out remains an issue that’s hotly contested.


It turns out there’s also plenty of disagreement as to how many Palestinians should be considered refugees today.


According to the figures compiled by the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the figure stands at some seven million, or more.


Not so, said Asaf Romirowsky, an adjunct scholar at the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies and Middle East Forum. That figure is wildly inflated by bogus claims, by those who want to benefit from funds allocated to refugees and particularly by the very definition of “refugee” itself.


Of the number of people who might have been considered refugees 67 years ago, only about 30,000 remain. The others would not be refugees under any standard definition of the term, said Romirowsky, a former Israel Defence Forces international relations liaison officer in the West Bank and Jordan.


Romirowsky was in Toronto and Hamilton last week to address audiences as a guest of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR). He said UNRWA “has the most expansive definition of refugees in the world today.” It includes any Arab living in the area from 1946 to 1948, including temporary workers, as well as their descendants.


It’s the latter that really inflates the refugee numbers. Nowhere else are the children and grandchildren of refugees considered refugees. Under the definition employed by the UN’s main refugee agency, UNHCR, which is mandated to assist all the other refugees in the world, refugee status is not something that can be inherited, he said.


UNHCR attempts to settle refugees in host countries, something Palestinians and UNRWA have long rejected. Palestinian identity is wrapped up in self-perception as refugees and Israel’s foes long ago recognized that as a way to keep the conflict at the boiling point, Romirowsky said.


“It is the main ingredient for ensuring the longevity and continuation of the conflict from generation to generation,” he stated.


UNRWA is something unique unto itself, he continued. Its 30,000 employees – UNHCR employs only around 6,000 people – are highly sympathetic to the Palestinian narrative, which isn’t surprising, given the vast majority of UNRWA’s staff are Palestinians.


UNRWA advances the Palestinian agenda: its school textbooks are rife with calls to violence and the denial of a Jewish link to the Land of Israel, and it has adopted the Palestinian claim of a “Right to Return,” which links any peace with Israel to the return of million of “refugees” to Israeli territory.


UNRWA long ago gave up any hint of neutrality in the conflict, he maintained.

Romirowsky noted that Peter Hansen, the former UNRWA commissioner-general in Gaza, stated in 2004: “I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll, and I don’t see that as a crime… we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another.”


Furthermore, UNRWA is a self-perpetuating bureaucracy. It subsists on donations from private and state contributors.


“UNRWA learned since its inception that there’s always a need for more and  more money. It learned that the Arab world would give the money as long as it became the voice of the Palestinian people,” Romirowsky stated.


Canada has de-funded UNRWA because of its lack of accountability and transparency, though the United States and the European Union continue to send it money every year. The U.S. contribution runs to some $230 million (US), but recently, Sen. Mark Kirk has initiated calls for more accountability for those funds.


“They asked for an audit and [UNRWA] went ballistic,” Romirowsky said.

Steps have also been taken by individual U.S. members of Congress who have called for “an end date for the right of return.” Based on the way UNRWA defines refugees, the number is bound to expand indefinitely, a situation that’s ultimately unsustainable, he suggested.


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Syria's Opposition Groups Strike Unity Deal Against Assad: Reuters, Nov 11, 2012

Syria's fractious opposition finally put aside fierce arguments to rally behind a new leader within a new coalition that its Western and Arab backers hope can topple Bashar al-Assad and take over the country.


How Syria’s Neighbors Are Drawn Into Its War: The Associated Press, Times of Israel, Nov. 13, 2012—Syria’s neighbors are increasingly being drawn into the country’s civil war in a variety of ways, whether militarily or due to an exodus of Syrians fleeing the fighting at home. The spillover has raised concerns that the nearly 20-month-long conflict between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and rebels trying to topple him could endanger the entire Middle East.


Missteps by Rebels Erode Their Support Among Syrians: Anne Barnard, New York Times, Nov. 8, 2012—Syria’s rebel fighters are losing crucial support from a public increasingly disgusted by the actions of some rebels, including poorly planned missions, senseless destruction, criminal behavior and the coldblooded killing of prisoners.


How the Brotherhood Builds Power in Syria's Opposition: Hassan Hassan, The National, Nov 12, 2012— The MB is viewed with profound suspicion by most Syrians. Despite 20 months of atrocious violence by the criminal regime, many Syrians – rightly or wrongly – still prefer the regime because they fear the Brotherhood more


On Topic Links



Tug Of War Among Syrian Opposition: Shane Farrell, NOW Lebanon, Nov 9, 2012

Israel Hits 'Source' Of Second Syrian Mortar Shell: Yaakov Lappin, Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Nov.13, 2012

UNRWA Keeps Quiet on Syria: Asaf Romirowsky, Alexander Joffe, The National Interest, Nov. 9, 2012





Rania El Gamal & Regan Doherty

Reuters, November 11, 2012


Syria's fractious opposition finally put aside fierce arguments to rally behind a new leader within a new coalition that its Western and Arab backers hope can topple Bashar al-Assad and take over the country. After days of wrangling in Qatar under constant cajoling by exasperated Arab, U.S. and other officials, representatives of groups including rebel fighters, veteran dissidents and ethnic and religious minorities agreed on Sunday to join a new assembly that can form a government-in-exile. They unanimously elected reformist Damascus cleric Mouaz al-Khatib as its president.


Khatib, a soft-spoken preacher who was once imam of the ancient Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, immediately called on soldiers to quit the Syrian army and on all sects to unite. "We demand freedom for every Sunni, Alawi, Ismaili (Shi'ite), Christian, Druze, Assyrian … and rights for all parts of the harmonious Syrian people," he told reporters.  It remains to be seen whether the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces can overcome the mutual suspicions and in-fighting that have weakened the 20-month-old drive to end four decades of rule by President Assad's family.  [For the complete story see On Topic links below –Ed.]


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The Associated Press

Times of Israel, November 13, 2012


Syria’s neighbors are increasingly being drawn into the country’s civil war in a variety of ways, whether militarily or due to an exodus of Syrians fleeing the fighting at home. The spillover has raised concerns that the nearly 20-month-long conflict between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and rebels trying to topple him could endanger the entire Middle East. Here is a look at how neighboring states are being affected by Syria’s bloodletting:




Israel on Monday became the second country to strike the Syrian military, after Turkey. An Israeli tank hit a Syrian armored vehicle after shells from fighting in Syria exploded in Israel-controlled Golan Heights. A day earlier, Israel fired a warning shot near a group of Syrian fighters.


Syrian shells have exploded inside the Golan several times in recent weeks damaging apple orchards, sparking fires and spreading panic but causing no injuries. In early November, three Syrian tanks entered the Golan demilitarized zone, and in a separate incident an Israeli patrol vehicle was peppered with bullets fired from Syria; no one was hurt in the incident and the Israeli military deemed it accidental.


There is concern in Israel that Assad may try to spark a conflict with Israel, opening up the potential for attacks by Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israel has also warned that Syria’s chemical weapons could be turned on the Jewish state. Still, while no friend of Assad, Israel is also worried that if he is toppled, Syria could fall into the hands of Islamic extremists or descend into sectarian warfare.




Mortars and shells from the Syrian side regularly crash in Lebanon, causing several casualties, though Lebanese forces have never fired back. More dangerously, Syria’s conflict has heightened deep rivalries and sectarian tensions in its smaller neighbor. Lebanon is divided between pro-Assad and anti-Assad factions, a legacy of the nearly three decades when Damascus all but ruled Lebanon, until 2005. Assad’s ally, the Hezbollah militia is Lebanon’s strongest political and military movement.


On Oct. 19, a car bomb assassinated Lebanon’s top intelligence chief, Wissam al-Hassan. Many in Lebanon blamed Syria and Hezbollah for the assassination.


The northern Lebanese city of Tripoli has seen repeated clashes between Sunni Muslims and Alawites — the Shiite offshoot sect to which Assad belongs. Battles in the city in May and August killed at least 23 people total and wounded dozens.


The kidnapping of Lebanese Shiites in Syria by rebels has also had repercussions in Lebanon. In May, Shiites blocked roads and burned tires in protest over the abductions, and later in the summer a powerful Shiite clan took 20 Syrians and a Turk in Lebanon captive in retaliation, all of whom have since been released. Lebanon also shelters about 100,000 Syrian refugees.




Turkey has struck the Syrian military repeatedly in response to shelling and mortar rounds from Syria since Oct. 3, when shells from Syria struck the Turkish village of Akcakale, killing two women and three children. The incident prompted NATO to convene an emergency meeting and Turkey sent tanks and anti-aircraft batteries to the area. Turkey’s military has also scrambled fighter jets after Syrian helicopters flew close to the border.


There are about 120,000 Syrian refugees sheltering in Turkish camps, with up to 70,000 more living in Turkey outside the camps. Thousands more wait at the border, held up as Turkey struggles to cope with the influx. Turkey also hosts much of the opposition and rebel leadership.


Turkey has called for a buffer zone in Syria where the opposition and civilians would be protected, a step that would likely require international enforcement of a no-fly zone. Russia and China have blocked robust moves against the Syrian regime at the U.N. Security Council, and the United States has been reluctant to use its military in another Mideast conflict.




Jordan has taken the brunt of the refugee exodus from Syria, with some 265,000 Syrians fleeing across the border. Around 42,000 of them are housed at Zaatari, a dust-filled refugee camp, where riots have broken out several times by Syrians angry over lack of services.


A growing number of stray Syrian missiles have fallen on Jordanian villages in the north in recent weeks, wounding several civilians. Late last month, a Jordanian border patrol officer was killed in clashes with eight militants trying to cross into Syria. Hours earlier, Jordan announced the arrest of 11 suspected al-Qaida-linked militants allegedly planning to attack shopping malls and Western diplomatic missions in Jordan.




Sunni and Shiite fighters from Iraq have made their way to Syria to join the civil war — the former on the side of the opposition, the latter siding with Assad’s regime, according to Iraqi officials and Shiite militants. Sunni al-Qaeda fighters are believed to be moving between Iraq and Syria, and some al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq’s western Anbar province have regrouped under the name of the Free Iraqi Army, a nod to the rebels’ Free Syrian Army, Iraqi officials say.


The United States has pressured Baghdad to stop Iranian planes suspected of ferrying arms to Syria from using Iraqi airspace. Iraq has so far acknowledged only forcing two planes to land for inspection and said it didn’t find any weapons either time. About 49,000 Syrian refugees have temporarily resettled in Iraq, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

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Anne Barnard

New York Times, November 8, 2012



Syria’s rebel fighters — who have long staked claim to the moral high ground for battling dictatorship — are losing crucial support from a public increasingly disgusted by the actions of some rebels, including poorly planned missions, senseless destruction, criminal behavior and the coldblooded killing of prisoners.


The shift in mood presents more than just a public relations problem for the loosely knit militants of the Free Syrian Army, who rely on their supporters to survive the government’s superior firepower. A dampening of that support undermines the rebels’ ability to fight and win what has become a devastating war of attrition, perpetuating the violence that has left nearly 40,000 dead, hundreds of thousands in refugee camps and more than a million forced from their homes.


The rebel shortcomings have been compounded by changes in the opposition, from a force of civilians and defected soldiers who took up arms after the government used lethal force on peaceful protesters to one that is increasingly seeded with extremist jihadis. That radicalization has divided the fighters’ supporters and made Western nations more reluctant to give rebels the arms that might help break the intensifying deadlock….


Twenty months into what is now a civil war, both supporters and opponents of the government are trapped in a darkening mood of despair, revulsion and fear that neither side can end the conflict. In recent months, both sides adopted more brutal — even desperate — methods to try to break the stalemate, but they achieved merely a new version of deadlock. To many Syrians, the extreme violence seems all the more pointless for the lack of results.


The most significant shift is among the rebels’ supporters, who chant slogans not only condemning the government but also criticizing the rebels. “The people want the reform of the Free Syrian Army,” crowds have called out. “We love you. Correct your path.”


Small acts of petty humiliation and atrocities like executions have led many more Syrians to believe that some rebels are as depraved as the government they fight. The activist from Saraqib said he saw rebels force government soldiers from a milk factory, then destroy it, even though residents needed the milk and had good relations with the owner.


“They shelled the factory and stole everything,” the activist said. “Those are repulsive acts.” Even some of the uprising’s staunchest supporters are beginning to fear that Syria’s sufferings — lost lives, fraying social fabric, destroyed heritage — are for naught.


“We thought freedom was so near,” said a fighter calling himself Abu Ahmed, his voice catching with grief as he spoke via Skype last month from Maarat al-Noaman, a strategic town on the Aleppo-Damascus highway. Hours earlier, a rebel victory there ended in disaster, as government airstrikes pulverized civilians returning to what they thought was safety.


Even within Mr. Assad’s most solid base, his minority Alawite sect, discontent spilled over last month in a clash that began in a coffee shop in the president’s ancestral village, Qardaha. Some were shaken recently by heavy casualties in the disproportionately Alawite military and militias, according to Fadi Saad, who runs a Facebook page called Alawites in the Syrian Revolution.


On the rebel side, the Aleppo battle catalyzed simmering frustrations among civilian activists who feel dominated by gunmen. One Aleppo activist said she met with fighters to suggest ways to cut government supply routes without destroying the city, to no avail. “You risked the lives of the people for what?” the activist asked. “The Free Syrian Army is just cutting the nails of the regime. We want results.”


Nominal leaders of the Free Syrian Army say they embrace ethical standards, contend that the government commits the vast majority of abuses and blame rogue groups for bad rebel behavior. But that did not ease the disgust after last week’s video. It shows men writhing on the ground, staring up and screaming in terror. Rebels stand over them, shouting a cacophony of orders and insults. They move like a gang, not a military unit, jostling and crowding, kicking prisoners, forcing them into a pile. Suddenly, automatic weapons fire drowns out the noise. Puffs of dust rise from the pile, now still.


“All the ugly stuff the regime practiced, the F.S.A. is copying,” Anna, a finance worker in Damascus, said of recent behavior. She blamed the government for making society abusive, but she said the rebels were no better. “They are ignorant people with weapons,” she said.

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Hassan Hassan

The National, Nov 12, 2012



Lieutenant-Colonel Hussein Harmoush, one of the first Syrian army officers to defect, was contacted by the Muslim Brotherhood shortly after he arrived at a refugee camp in Turkey's Hatay province in June of 2011. He was one of a small group of defectors, the Free Officers. Brotherhood members visited him several times and promised him logistical, financial and material support in exchange for "cooperation". Lt Col Harmoush replied "tell me what you want and I will decide accordingly", Lt Basim Khaled, speaking for the Free Officers, told me in an interview. " They wanted him to follow their directions and support them politically."


No agreement was reached but the Brotherhood members stayed in touch with Lt Col Harmoush. They also contacted a more recent, higher-ranking defector who agreed to cooperate. That officer, Colonel Riad Al Asaad, formed a new entity, the Free Syrian Army, without informing the Free Officers. The Brotherhood then abruptly dropped contact with Lt Col Harmoush, who was captured by Syrian authorities under mysterious circumstances in August 2011, after disappearing in Turkey.


The story shows how the Muslim Brotherhood – an Islamist group with little representation within Syrian society, due to decades of systematic cleansing by the Baathist regime – has successfully built influence over the emerging opposition forces. The MB is viewed with profound suspicion by most Syrians. Despite 20 months of atrocious violence by the criminal regime, many Syrians – rightly or wrongly – still prefer the regime because they fear the Brotherhood more.


Activists downplay that fear, partly because the MB had acted behind the scenes. But its resistance to inclusiveness that would challenge its monopoly has become clear during the opposition's meetings in Doha. The Brotherhood has been resisting a US-backed initiative to form a more representative political entity, a plan that Syrians desperately need to reverse Brotherhood domination of the political process….


Some observers have criticised the US-backed plan that would include various political and regional forces hitherto unrepresented, effectively replacing the Syrian National Council. But the claim that foreign interference would undermine the popular legitimacy of these entities is invalid: the Brotherhood's political monopoly was made possible in the first place by foreign interference – the council was formed in Turkey, which has links with the MB – and by partial international recognition. That monopoly needs to be reversed by those countries.


The Syrian National Council took over six months to set up, largely due to disagreements over the role of the Brotherhood. When the council was finally formed in October 2011, the MB was given a bigger share of representation than, say, the Damascus Declaration – a group of reformist intellectuals formed in 2005 – in itself a major achievement for the organization.


Moreover, according to Muhammad Ali, an Istanbul-based Syrian analyst, some members of the Brotherhood have joined the SNC as independents, to ensure the organization the upper hand. That is why, even though the Brotherhood has reduced its representation in the SNC from 25 per cent to 20 per cent under the new "reforms", it is still a kingmaker.


It is hard to gauge precisely the MB's popular base, but historical evidence and well-established social dynamics offer useful insights. Tribal and Kurdish areas have over 30 per cent of the population and are loyal to their local leaders and increasingly to Salafi Islam. Non-Sunnis form 30 per cent of Syria's population and Kurds 9 per cent.


These bases of ethnic and religious minorities, plus the tribes – altogether making up at least 70 per cent of the population – have been outside the MB's influence in the past and will remain so. Add to that the business community in Aleppo and Damascus, which has historically had social ties with moderate religious clergy and whose interests lie in a secular-leaning government….


On what basis, then, does the Brotherhood dominate political and military councils today?

In a democratic Syria, the Brotherhood would have the right to engage in politics and build support. But its current dominance is not justified by true representation and this is one of the major causes of rift and hesitation among Syria's political and social forces. Its dominance needs to be addressed with urgency by activists and countries that have leverage in Syria.

Top of Page




Syria's opposition groups strike unity deal against Assad: Rania El Gamal & Regan Doherty, Reuters, Nov 11, 2012—Syria's fractious opposition finally put aside fierce arguments to rally behind a new leader within a new coalition that its Western and Arab backers hope can topple Bashar al-Assad and take over the country.


Tug Of War Among Syrian Opposition: Shane Farrell, NOW Lebanon, November 9, 2012—Apart from wanting the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts, there seems to be very little that unites the Syrian opposition. The Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition group and once-great hope for proponents of regime change, has long been marred by infighting, defections and accusations of Muslim Brotherhood dominance, as well as of being out of touch with Syrians on the ground.


Israel Hits 'Source' Of Second Syrian Mortar Shell:Yaakov Lappin, Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 13, 2012 — Israel fired at and struck two Syrian mortar launchers on Monday, following the second time in as many days that Syrian artillery shells exploded in Israeli territory. A tank from the 401 Armored Brigade fired at the Syrian targets in what was an escalated Israeli retaliation to Syrian fire. Unlike Sunday’s exchange, the IDF fired with the intention of hitting its target, as part of a new policy designed to deter Syrian forces from firing into Israel.


UNRWA Keeps Quiet on Syria: Asaf Romirowsky, Alexander Joffe, The National Interest, Nov. 9, 2012When two employees of UNRWA, the United Nations organization for Palestinians, were killed in Syria, one by a sniper and the other in a crossfire, the organization responded by deploring “the tragic loss of life." It was even more subdued when Syrian artillery shells slammed into a United Nations school for Palestinians in a Damascus suburb….These mild responses were utterly unlike the cries of condemnation and calls for war-crimes investigations that came forth when an Israeli shell struck outside an UNRWA school during the 2009 Gaza.



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