B’nai B’rith International CEO Dan Mariaschin and AJIRI-BBI Chair Richard P. Schifter sent a letter to the Washington Post regarding its recent, misleading article about UNRWA (“What is UNRWA, the U.N. agency in Gaza struggling to help Palestinians?” Washington Post, October 16).
From Daniel S. Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International CEO and Richard P. Schifter, AJIRI-BBI Chair:
The Washington Post unfortunately misses a crucial and central point in its article about the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) (“What is UNRWA, the U.N. agency in Gaza struggling to help Palestinians?” Washington Post, October 16). Far from being an agency acting merely “to protect and support civilians,” it is an extremely problematic entity that for 75 years has exacerbated the Palestinian problem and symbolized the failure to solve it.
As the article itself casually states, UNRWA is “unique…in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees.” UNRWA is, in fact, an outrageous anomaly (all other refugees in the world are covered by UNHCR—the U.N. refugee agency) that has perpetuated the Arab-Israeli conflict and has thus cost many thousands of lives, including the lives of over 1,300 innocent Israelis massacred on October 7 by Hamas terrorists claiming the phony grievances—of “dispossession”—that are pushed by UNRWA.
The refugees from 1948 (refugees from a war initiated by Arab states against the new State of Israel, the aim of which was to destroy the latter) should have been resettled long ago, as have been millions of refugees from other conflicts all over the world. They were purposely kept as “refugees” by the Arab governments and by UNRWA to whip up hatred against Israel.
Although there are believed to be only some 30,000 living Palestinian refugees from 1948, UNRWA incredibly recognizes over 5.9 million descendants of these refugees, as eligible for its services. UNRWA schools, far from teaching Palestinian children to become “confident, innovative, questioning, thoughtful, and open-minded, to uphold human values and tolerance,” as the article falsely claims, inculcate generation after generation with hatred of and resentment against Israel and with the false fantasy that they will one day “return” to their homes.
As pointed out in Einat Wilf and Adi Schwartz’s excellent book, “The War of Return,” numerous terrorists (including at least one of the surviving Munich Olympic massacre perpetrators) were direct products of UNRWA schools. UNRWA is simply not a neutral humanitarian institution. It is a malign actor that exacerbates the problems and suffering of the Palestinian people.