Canada Defunds a Terror-Supporting U.N. “Agency”

Frontpge Interview’s guest today is Asaf Romirowsky, a Senior Fellow at the Endowment for Middle East Truth and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.

FP: Asaf Romirowsky, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Canada has become the first country to defund from UNRWA. It is the first Western government to do so. Tell us about UNRWA and this Canadian move.

Romirowsky: Thank you for having me

To an outsider, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) seems to be a UN humanitarian group aiding Palestinian refugees. In reality however, it helps destroy the chances of Arab-Israeli peace, promotes terrorism, and holds back Palestinian society from ever achieving statehood.

There has been much evidence to show how UNRWA schools have become hotbeds of anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Semitic indoctrination, as well as recruiting offices for Islamist terror groups. UNRWA is the largest employer of Palestinians as such the local offices are dominated by radicals who staff and subsidize Islamist groups while potentially intimidating anyone from voicing a different line. UNRWA facilities and vehicles are used to store and transport weapons, and have actually served as military bases.

In this process, UNRWA has broken all the rules that are presumed to govern humanitarian enterprises, encouraging their resettlement, avoiding political stances, and putting refugees in danger. But by design, UNRWA is the exact opposite of other refugee relief operations, such as those orchestrated by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR).

UNRWA defines a “refugee” in the broadest terms by including not only those Arabs who fled from territories held by Israel, but also those who stayed in their homes and lost their source of livelihood as a result of war. Today, this would include all third- and fourth-generation children of refugees, even those of just one Palestinian refugee parent.

UNRWA in its current make up is a liability for many reasons. For one, it affords its employees U.N. diplomatic immunity, it undercuts the organization’s accountability. UNRWA workers have abused their diplomatic privilege to engage in or encourage terrorism. Television crews have filmed UNRWA employees escorting armed Palestinian fighters in U.N. vehicles. Agency-operated – and, by extension, America-funded – schools decorate their classrooms with flags and banners celebrating terrorist groups.

Currently, all UNRWA has to do when it goes to request monies from the United States is to say that they take care of the betterment of the Palestinian refugees without any kind of actual transparency and accountability of what they actual do to further that agenda. The United States which funds a third of UNRWA’s annual budget deserves checks and balances from any agency it finances especially, UNRWA.

As a result of the above, Canada has become the first Western country to demand the type of accountability and responsibility that a donor country deserves by saying NO to UNRWA and only allocating monies to certain Palestinian projects within the Palestinian Authority that can show how they evaluate their work and prove their effectiveness.

Given that one of the chief policy issues for the United States is how to aid in mobilizing donors, both public and private, for a financial infusion of aid resources to finance refugee compensation (and resettlement, immigration, and rehabilitation) as well as the permanent status agreement in general. It would behoove us to follow the Canadian example which would allow our tax dollars to be spent on promoting independent Palestinian organizations and private-sector growth.

FP: How did it come to pass that UNRWA became as you describe it and that this was allowed to actually take place?

Romirowsky: UNRWA was created as a temporary organization that has no end in sight. As such, UNRWA is here 60 plus years later still maintaining and sustaining the Palestinian refugee status.

While the refugees benefit from UNRWA, the organization benefits more from the refugees. These refugees are the organization’s raison d’etre. Accordingly, UNRWA has zero incentive to resolve the Palestinian refugee problem; ending the refugee problem would render the agency obsolete.

The interests of the refugees and UNRWA are so intertwined that UNRWA is staffed in situ mainly by local Palestinians—more than 23,000 of them—with only about 100 international United Nations professionals. While the U.N. High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Fund) avoid employing locals who are also recipients of agency services, UNRWA does not make this distinction.

Thus, in the interest of self-perpetuation, UNRWA seeks to maintain the violent status quo in the Middle East, even if it means turning a blind eye to terror.

FP: What more can be done about stopping this kind of abuse represented by UNRWA? What form of action do you advocate? What Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has done is clearly a step in the right direction.

Romirowsky: Indeed – Canada’s actions regarding UNRWA under Stephen Harper’s leadership are without a doubt a step in the right direction and more donor countries should be adopting this very policy. As I see it, there are four basic steps that can be taken which are highly reasonable as it concerns UNRWA.

First, UNRWA should ultimately be dissolved.

Second, all the services UNRWA currently provides should be transferred to other agencies within the UN, notably the UNHCR, which have a long experience in such programs. In addition, these activities must be subject to normal transparency and accountability.

Third, to the greatest possible extent, responsibility for normal social services should be turned over to the Palestinian Authority. A large portion of the UNRWA staff should be transferred to that governmental authority. Donors should use the maximum amount of oversight to ensure this be done effectively.

Fourth, the text books used by UNRWA should be subject to oversight to ensure that the teach co-existence and peace between Arabs and Jews.

People often wonder why it is that violence and instability persists after so many years regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict and especially the Palestinian element therein. Why is this issue so seemingly impossible to resolve?

A part of the answer is that UNRWA does not work towards a resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem. In fact, the opposite is true. UNRWA perpetuates the problem. All those seeking real progress toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians need to take a close look at this unacceptable situation.

FP: Asaf Romirowsky, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

  • Gary Rumain
  • Jac

    Canada under the able leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not only doing extremely well in the present economic circumstances – contrary to the US under Obama – but is setting an example for all nations vis-a-vis the now completely corrupt and inept United Nations. If only Canadians would give his party a majority instead of the present fragile minority government he could do even better.

  • ciccio

    As an immigrant to Canada, I have for years heard everything about the so called wishy-washy Kanucks. I have also hears the most vile condemnation of the Canadian health care system from south of the border on which subject I would like to point out just a few things: Dental, vision, chiropractors, any alternative treatment NOT COVERED. Drugs, when the US government bought millions of doses of Tamiflu at $ 100 per dose I could walk into the next drug store and buy it for $ 40 plus prescription fee. In other words, the Canadian health care system covers the basics, bells and whistles are for your account. On taking a measured stance towards Islam, the world could learn a lot. George Galloway, that rabid fan of the allahowling Palestinians : banned from entering the country.
    Burqa : just banned. When the Muslims complained that since the Jews were allowed rabbinical courts they should be allowed sharia, the government agreed with them that this was indeed discrimination and in a judgement worthy of Solomon declared that there was to be only one law in the land, Canadian. NO religious courts of any denomination and not a murmur was heard from the Jews.

  • Sailingroundtheworld

    Gaza was won in a war by Israel against Egypt, not the Palestinians. UNRWA acts as a mask over the racism and hatred of the Arab world. Why are Palestinians still refugees after 60 years? The Arab world wants them poor and angry so they act as glue to keep a hate filled warring Arab world together. It is pathetic that Palestinian refugees have not been absorbed and given citizenship in Syria and Egypt. Jordon should be the homeland of Palestinians…The Palestinians lived in Jordon just as they lived in parts of Israel, so, why is OK for a new country called Jordon to be created during the same time in history as Israel?

  • Andrew Whitley

    Almost every single assertion and statement in this interview can be proven to be false, starting with the Front Page Magazine editor's initial premise that Canada has "defunded" UNRWA. I am happy to inform readers that it has not done so. Just last week CIDA announced new grants to UNRWA totaling C$15 million for work in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.

    UNRWA is subject to the highest levels of accountability and transparency of any international humanitarian or development organization. Recent publicly available reports by the US Government Accountability Office, State Department's Office of the Inspector General and the UN's external auditors – the South African Government’s national auditors – have all demonstrated that donor funds are used effectively and appropriately. They conclude that the Agency is not complicit in any sense with terrorism.

    UNRWA is proud of its record of having enabled millions of Palestinian refugees to live decent, productive lives and to stand on their own feet.

    I suggest that Glazov and Romirowsky start by checking their facts.

    Andrew Whitley
    Director, UNRWA Representative Office
    New York

    • Padraig

      You've just towed the incompetent UN line. Why do you think it is ok in polite society to respond with complete utter lies to an article of facts. Because you say so? Do you make your own reality?

    • RSAmerica


      The facts put forth in this article can be discovered by the simplest schoolboy, indeed by anyone not suffering from terminal cranial-rectal inversion. Talk is cheap, Andrew, and UN-speak is the cheapest of all. "[H]ighest levels of accountability and transparency…"?????? "[N]ot complicit in any sense with terrorism"??????? How do you, just having, quite publicly, proved yourself a liar of the highest order, look in the mirror without an utter sense of loathing?

  • andres de alamaya

    I carry two passports – U.S. and Canadian. I used both with pride. While Obama sits in the White House and Harper runs things in Ottawa, I'll use the Canadian passport with pride and leave the U.S. passport in the drawer. I'll use it again, of course. It's good for ten years, much longer than we'll have Obama.

  • Paul T.

    If (or, sadly, when) the Liberal Party knocks out Prime Minister Harper's minority government, we can expect Canada to take a much more anti-Israeli line.

  • guest

    Palestinian "victims?" Israel offered the Arab population citizenship but the Arab world assured them that Israel would be destroyed and vast numbers of Arabs left the area. Duh…in 6 days the Arabs were defeated. I don't see them as victims, I see them as being incapable of building very much. They VOTED in Hamas, a known terror group. What the hell else can you call a bunch of Islamic thugs whose written Charter calls for "The Destruction of Israel." Substitute Israel for England, Belgium, France, the U.S. and they had to have know what Hamas, an Iranian proxy would bring them. Now they have morality police and creeping Sharia law. Gee its fun to be Muslim and do Jihad, ain't it?

  • chickencharlie

    To Michael:

    I rest my case.

  • chickencharlie

    The interview confirms this aphorism: "The greatest challenge in life is to keep one's head above the rising tide of assholes."

    What a load of biased, ignorant, uninformed drivel, masked in a gauze of faux credibility.

    And anyone with a sense of fairness and reason should challenge the authors to reveal their motives for publishing this type of trash.

    The item sets a new low for pandering to the ignorant.

    As a Canadian journalist who spent some 15 years in the Middle East, I would encourage others to do their own discovery, visit the region, find and speak with Palestinians AND Israelis, then weigh facts for themselves.

    • Michael

      You are chickencharlieshithead Canadian "journalist".I am from ME and know the facts-the authors are right!

  • Jay Gracy

    Hi good post, im currently studying this at college. I like your blog there’s some real helpful stuff on here. Will check back soon to see if you have posted anymore pages, thanks

  • guest

    We're trying! Fact is, Conservatives do not have a bad name here in Canada. Harper has been very vocal about human rights. Totally ironically, he was criticized by the NDP (left wing New Democratic Party) for being very vocal and criticizing China for their human rights record. The NDP griped that Harper may have "jeopardized" business with Canada! In the U.S., Conservatives are considered the party of money. We're lucky, we don't have anywhere near the kind of mudslinging, slanderous, vitriolic campaigns of the U.S. There is still an ethic here of decency and plenty of politicians have been screwed when they tried to cross that line.