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December 19, 2016 7:15 am

The New York Times Blames Israel For a Palestinian Refugee Camp, Failing to Mention the UN Is Perpetuating It

avatar by Ziva Dahl

Email a copy of "The New York Times Blames Israel For a Palestinian Refugee Camp, Failing to Mention the UN Is Perpetuating It" to a friend
Shuafat. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Shuafat. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A recent New York Times Magazine article by Rachel Kushner, titled “We Are Orphans Here: Life and Death in East Jerusalem’s Palestinian Refugee Camp,” describes the author’s observations of the miserable daily life in the Shuafat refugee camp.

What readers aren’t told is that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) — not Israel — is responsible for this “camp.”

The article gives the impression that somehow the squalid existence of this camp is the fault of uncaring Israeli military overseers bent on punishing peaceful, helpless Palestinians. Nowhere are readers informed that Shuafat is a highly armed, crime-ridden community, which harbors Hamas terrorists like Ibrahim al-Akari, who killed an Israeli policeman and wounded 14 innocent Israelis.

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Five million Palestinian refugees receive assistance from UNWRA. The Palestinian Arabs are the only refugees in the world who have not been resettled over such a long period of time. In contrast, Israel welcomed and integrated the 850,000 Jews forced to flee from Muslim countries after 1948.

So why are there almost 2 million Palestinian Arabs still living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem?

UNRWA’s sole purpose when it was established in 1949 was to care for the 650,000 Arab refugees displaced by the 1948 conflict. Today, UNWRA is a huge social welfare organization with a staff of more than 30,000, mostly Palestinians, including Hamas members. UNRWA has an annual budget greater than $1 billion, provided by Western nations. Its only client remains the millions of registered Palestinian refugees.

As part of its mission, UNWRA runs schools that promote jihadism, Islamist religious doctrine and antisemitism. It facilitates military weapons training camps organized by Hamas, which prepare children for recruitment into al-Qassam Brigades — the military wing of Hamas. UNWRA nurtures a sense of Palestinian victimhood, glorifies terrorism and encourages terrorist martyrdom.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has been using the refugee camps as terrorist breeding grounds. UNRWA has no incentive to resettle these refugees because as long as the Palestinians are refugees, UNWRA stays in business. If there are no refugees, the money stops rolling in.

Palestinian refugees in camps in Lebanon and Syria are restricted from integrating into those countries by “apartheid laws,” which segregate the Palestinians and restricting their access to jobs. Jordan has granted very limited citizenship to Palestinians.

One high-ranking Palestinian Authority official, Dr. A. Abdullah, has unequivocally stated that in a future Palestinian state, Palestinian refugees “will not be considered citizens.” The PA tells the Shuafat camp refugees that they will return to their homes in Israel proper.

Conditions in Palestinian refugee camps are bad, but they’re useful for generating sympathy and support for a Palestinian state — a state that, ironically, will not accept these Palestinian refugees as citizens. The PA prefers to weave a refugee narrative of victimhood because it allows them to attack Israel on y et another front.

Since 1949, US taxpayers have given a total of $4.4 billion to UNWRA. It’s time to stop funding UNRWA, to end this historical deception, to redefine “refugee,” and to promote their resettlement in Arab/Muslim lands.

Instead of writing a propaganda piece for Breaking the Silence and the New York Times, Ms. Kushner should be using her pen to pressure the PA to take responsibility for its people by redirecting some of its billions of dollars of international aid to their resettlement rather than paying them to kill Israeli civilians.

Ziva Dahl is a senior fellow with the Haym Salomon Center with a Master of Arts degree in public law and government from Columbia University and an A.B. in political science from Vassar College. Her bylines have appeared in the New York Daily News, the New York Observer, and The Hill. A version of this article was originally published by IJR. 

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  • Joseph Feld

    Arab countries refusing to treat Pals as citizens with equal rights — what is that if not apartheid? There are 24 Arab countries. 700,000 Arabs left Israel in 1948. Each Arab state should have accepted about 30,000. Israel accepted about 800,000 Jewish refugees who were ethnically cleansed from the Arab world in 1948 onwards. The UN should have supervised this population exchange in 1948 to 1950 and refugee camps should have disappeared by 1960. Post WW2 many populations in Europe also moved and resettled with minimal UN involvement.

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