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B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and AJIRI-BBI Chair Richard P. Schifter sent a letter to the New York Times regarding its recent guest article by UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, in which Lazzarini absurdly defends UNRWA despite the organization’s financial abuses, links to terrorism, and role in perpetuating the Palestinian refugee crisis to undermine Israel (“Israel Must Stop its Campaign Against UNRWA”, New York Times, May 30, 2024).

From Daniel S. Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International CEO and Richard P. Schifter, AJIRI-BBI Chair:

To the editor:

Phillip Lazzarini’s demand that “Israel Must Stop its Campaign Against UNRWA” (NYT Opinion, May 30, 2024) is reminiscent of the proverbial boy who murdered his parents and then pleaded for mercy because he is an orphan. This has been rightly called the ultimate definition of the word “chutzpah.”

Any civilians tragically killed in Gaza during the current war are unfortunate victims of Hamas’s unprovoked and despicable attacks on Israelis on Oct. 7.

But despite Mr. Lazzarini’s protestations, UNRWA, as an organization, is not an innocent bystander. The financial abuses, links to terrorism, decades of hate education and the participation in murder and kidnapping on Oct. 7 by UNRWA employees, are well documented.

As a refugee agency dedicated (uniquely among refugee situations all over the world) to only one particular group, the Palestinians, its establishment and perpetuation were meant to keep the Palestinians as refugees in order to undermine the State of Israel, and to keep alive the evil dream that Israel’s establishment in 1948 might be reversed.

It is a shame that UNRWA is using the cover of the current suffering in Gaza to plead for the further indulgence of the international community, whose plentiful resources they have already tragically squandered.

Daniel S. Mariaschin, CEO, B’nai B’rith International AND Richard P. Schifter, Chair, American Jewish International Relations Institute-B’nai B’rith International (AJIRI-BBI), Washington, D.C.