Silver lining in UNRWA losing American support


Silver lining in UNRWA losing American support

Some people think that the 1948 Arab-Israeli war ended. It didn’t. Although the Arab world has become feeble and weak, Israel has grown into a greater monster than it ever threatened to be when it expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

More than 700,000 Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, were forced to flee their lands and homes in Palestine at gunpoint between 1946 and 1949, and they might have vanished had it not been for the guilt of the UN.

In 1949, the UN created the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to provide health, education and social services to the refugees, creating camps that in many cases became shantytowns and cities.

As Israel continued to reject peace and spread its violence throughout the Middle East, raiding and killing Arabs in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and in Syria, invading Egypt in 1956 and destroying more than 400 Arab villages inside Israel, UNRWA’s importance became clear. It provided a sanctuary for the refugees because Israel refused to allow them back.

Israel wanted a “Jewish” state and half the population was non-Jewish. So it intentionally chased as many of them out as possible and, as they occupied half of the lands in the proposed “Arab state” of the UN Partition Plan, they chased non-Jews out of those areas too.

The number 700,000 doesn’t even come close to equating the actual number of Palestinians forcibly removed from their lands and homes. Many thousands of Palestinians managed to find refuge with relatives oversees without UN help, as was the case for my family.

Over the years, as Israel rejected peace and spread conflict, the 700,000 Palestinian refugees grew into millions through natural growth, despite the environment of continued suffering. In 1967, when Israel launched an aggressive war against the Arabs and Palestine, the number of Palestinian refugees grew again. Many of the 1967 refugees were previously displaced in the 1948 war. But, for Israel, the goal was to expel as many non-Jews as possible from the lands it occupied and use them to establish Jewish-only settlements.

I am amazed at the irony. It was the UN that imposed its injustice on the world by pushing through the creation of Israel in 1947 and, maybe because of guilt, it felt obligated to create an agency to deal with the victims.

While Israel continued its militaristic policies, assaulting Palestinians inside and outside of Israel, attacking neighboring Arab states, and manipulating sections of the mainstream news media to cast itself as the “victim” and disguise its own aggression, UNRWA forged ahead with helping the refugees.

And, with help, they grew. Today, there are at least 5,266,603 Palestinian refugees as a result of the 1948 and 1967 wars.

In reality, losing American support is a good thing. After all, America exaggerates crimes committed by others and protects worse crimes and acts of violence committed by its military.

Ray Hanania

Due largely to UNRWA, Palestinian refugees continue to survive in the face of Israel’s ongoing war crimes. And that’s why Israel hates UNRWA and why Israel hates the UN.

If it wasn’t for UNRWA, the Palestinians would have been destroyed. That’s why the US, which hypocritically claims to stand up against injustice, has terminated its support for UNRWA, ending the $360 million it donates annually.

In reality, losing American support is a good thing. After all, America exaggerates crimes committed by others and protects worse crimes and acts of violence committed by its military.

The good news, though, is that the American action has forced the world to live up to its responsibilities. Since the US announcement, more than $260 million has been committed from the Arab world, Turkey and the EU.

Cutting its funding of UNRWA means that the US now has less authority to engage the Middle East in any manner, and it’s a signal mainly to the Palestinian leadership that it can’t count on existing alliances with America to last.

Eliminating America from the Middle East conflict is probably the best thing that could happen to the Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim worlds. The US’s engagement was biased and always in favor of Israel.

This week, I went to the UNRWA website, and you should go there too at On the front page, it has an appeal to the world for support to replace the money America has withheld from the needy. I donated $100, and you should too. That donation has given me the strength to refuel my activism and stand up to Israel’s bullying and its war crimes.

Sometimes it takes a dramatic act of outrage to wake people up and force them to recognize where their real priority lies. That priority is to support agencies like UNRWA, which do real work to help the needy in this world.

  • Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist and the author of several books including “Yalla! Fight Back.” His personal website is Twitter: @RayHanania.
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