By Asaf Romirowsky, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies—
Walter Eytan, Israel’s first director-general of the Foreign Ministry, made the observation that “The refugees were a gift to Arab propaganda, which succeeded, by perverting the facts, in turning them into the gravest political liability with which Israel has had to contend in the first decade of her existence. Wherever in the ‘Western’ world anti-Israel feeling exists, it draws its inspiration primarily from the Arab refugees. For all her efforts, Israel has never succeeded in freeing herself from the reproach leveled at her by Arab propaganda: that she drove out the refugees in the first place and has since cruelly denied them the elementary human right of ‘returning home,’ and that in doing so she has ‘defied’ the United Nations.”
The purported neutrality of UNRWA has been demystified time and time again. The organization for Palestinian “refugees” has been exposed repeatedly as one of the single most important sources for prolonging the Arab-Israeli conflict and preventing the resettlement of Palestinians kept in camps by their Arab brethren. And yet the myth of its “neutrality” persists.
Every commissioner general of UNRWA attempts to make the case that humanitarian aid is apolitical. Philippe Lazzarini, the current commissioner, is no different. In an op-ed entitled “Aiding Palestine refugees is not political,” he argues that “as the largest UN or humanitarian agency operating in one of the most complex and longest-standing conflicts in the Middle East, we know better than anyone else the importance of remaining neutral. The ongoing attacks and unfounded allegations against UNRWA are but a political tool to delegitimize the agency and the Palestine refugees that it protects. These attacks seek to draw the focus away from the hardships Palestinian refugees face due to their ongoing dispossession and displacement.”
Media pyrotechnics have always worked well for UNRWA. Its spokespeople tweet accusations, voice hollow defenses of its practices, and even cry on TV. UNRWA learned long ago to wave the bloody shirt, proclaim its formal neutrality, and act as an unofficial Palestinian spokesman with the imprimatur of the UN.
Lazzarini, like his predecessors, wants the world to see Palestinians as refugees who must be sustained as welfare cases by the international community. This condition is central to Palestinian culture and identity. Continue Reading….