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Scholar Asaf Romirowsky Guests on the B’nai B’rith Podcast on What This Means for Israel

(Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2019)– The United Nations General Assembly committee recently voted to move forward with renewing the mandate for one if its most scandal-ridden agencies. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) launched in 1949 and has a long history of anti-Israel incitement and systemic corruption.

Asaf Romirowsky, the executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and a fellow at the Middle East Forum, joined B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin on the B’nai B’rith Podcast to talk about the U.N. decision to renew UNRWA’s mandate. Romirowsky explains that UNRWA has strayed from the intent of its original mandate – which was to have refugees “be resettled, reintegrated and repatriated” – to “basically become the gatekeeper of a stasis of maintaining Arab Palestinians in refugee status as a result of a political calculus made by the Arab world.”

Enabled by foreign countries that give millions of dollars to the agency, UNRWA’s propagation of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic educational materials has gone basically unquestioned.

UNRWA has also been enveloped in corruption scandals. After the United States froze its contributions to UNRWA in 2018, Switzerland followed its lead this year in response to an internal report that revealed widespread mismanagement and corruption within the agency. Romirowsky argues that while the corruption scandals have increased scrutiny of UNRWA and its donors are “waking up to looking at exactly where their money is going,” the “architecture of UNRWA monies” has not yet been dismantled.

Romirowsky has co-authored a book with Alexander Joffe on the Palestinian refugee issue entitled “Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief.” His work has appeared in outlets including The Wall Street Journal, the New Republic and the Times of Israel. He is a professor at the University of Haifa.

Listen to the podcast here