A U.N. Appointment Exposed

American-Israeli journalist Arlene Kushner maintains a blog in which she discusses political, diplomatic and military issues affecting Israel: www.arlenefromisrael.info. She currently also serves in a consultant capacity with the Center for Near East Policy Research.


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John Ging has been serving since 2006 as Director of Operations in Gaza for UNRWA, the agency responsible for the Palestinian refugees. He will move shortly to New York, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has tapped him for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

It is instructive at this point to examine some key Ging statements from 2010, which are often marked by distortions and a bias against Israel. UNRWA’s mandate, it must be noted, is purely humanitarian, rendering political pronouncements by a top staff member inappropriate.

The year began auspiciously with a video filmed in Gaza, and uploaded to YouTube on January 4. It included a Sky1 News interview of Ging.

They are standing, he says during that interview, in what was once Gaza’s industrial area.  Here, the biscuit factory once stood, etc.

Elaborating, Ging explains:

The announcement [regarding Israeli intentions in its last Gaza operation] was that this whole war was about demolishing the infrastructure of terrorism.  But we look around and see that this was not the case.

The infrastructures of the economy and education were destroyed, he says. And the infrastructure of the government – ministries and the president’s compound.  “These are not the infrastructures of terror, these are the infrastructures of peace – the infrastructures of a state…the parliament building, the infrastructure of democracy.”

But this is disingenuous: it is inconceivable that he was unaware of the Hamas propensity for operating within civilian infrastructure, impossible that he did not realize that structures with the appearance of being civilian may well have housed terrorists or weapons, or been employed as launching sites.

In 2009, the International Institute for Counterterrorism issued a report documenting Hamas use of heavily populated civilian areas, and subsequently the IDF documented evidence that Hamas had utilized almost 100 mosques in Gaza for storing and launching weapons during the war.

And yet, Ging told his interviewer that standing in Gaza he was able to “see the truth.”

In alluding to the parliament building utilized by a terrorist Hamas, the governing entity of Gaza, as “infrastructure of democracy,” he seriously distorted reality.

In early April, Ging laid the blame for all problems with Gaza youngsters at the feet of Israel:

[I]f you have no reason to live, you will seek a glorious death. It’s worse now than it ever was before…Their violent behavior…is symptomatic of the desperation they are growing up in.

What he blithely ignored, however, are the years of radicalization of the population of Gaza under the influence of UNRWA schools controlled by Hamas.

For over 15 years, Hamas has dominated UNRWA’s teachers’ union in Gaza. Since 2006, Hamas representatives have controlled the executive council of this union sector.

The report “UNRWA: Its Role in Gaza” speaks about Hamas entrée into the schools:

The Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc…maintains broad programs in UNRWA schools; these…promote incitement for jihad…

Less than three weeks later, during a major press conference at the UN, while depicting the struggles of the people of Gaza, Ging said:

There is a distance between the mischaracterization of Gaza, as a so-called ‘hostile entity,’ and the scale of the civility of the people who populate the Gaza Strip in these very uncivilized circumstances. They are very civilized people who manifest very clearly interact with visitors.

“The mischaracterization of Gaza, as a…‘hostile entity,’”?

When rockets are fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians, and the governing party of Gaza, Hamas, is sworn to Israel’s destruction, it indeed does mark Gaza as a hostile entity. Ging would have it understood that the people inside of Gaza are devoid of associations with Hamas – which he never mentions – and totally innocent by-standers.

Additionally, he insisted that:

[A]ll [UNRWA] teaching staff is closely vetted by the UN in order to provide a non-political education. (Emphasis added)

This is perhaps Ging’s most blatant misrepresentation of the facts during this press conference. For the reality, described above, is that Hamas enormously influences the education in the classroom.

On May 3, 2010, in an interview in his Gaza office with the Norwegian paper Aftenposten – cited in English on May 5th by Al-Jazeera and other sources – Ging suggested that the international community had a responsibility to act with regard to Gaza. “Israel,” he declared, “refuses to act reasonably.”

Therefore we ask the international community: Bring us the supplies we need to rebuild schools and run them, bring us the equipment we need to hospitals and health centers. Everybody knows how desperate the situation isWe need action now(Emphasis added)

We believe that Israel will not intercept these vessels because the sea is open…

“Where there is a political will,” he declared, “there is always a way.”

This blatantly inciteful statement made news internationally.  In fact, there is full reason to believe that the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” that was launched in May of 2010, with disastrous results, was inspired by Ging’s words.  A May 6, 2010 Flotilla video from the “Free Gaza Movement” – which begins by citing John Ging – provides prima facie documentation of this.

(The “Freedom Flotilla” – ostensibly seeking to break the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza by bringing humanitarian supplies – included the ship Mavi Marmari, which carried members of a Turkish terrorist organization who planned and executed violence against Israeli soldiers.)

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  • USMCSniper

    The extremist Muslim states and their terrorist groups make direct use of UN resolutions to justify their Jihadist cause and to delegitimize Israel. In addition, the indirect effect of such resolutions throughout the world is to create the perception of Israel as the outlaw state and of Jews as criminally guilty by association rather than the victim which they are in reality. Perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents around the world have always had animosity towards Israel as their motive.

  • ajnn

    There is a whole literature and great public outrage against regulating agencies that serve the industry it is supposed to police. There is even a technical term for these government agencies, 'captured agency'.

    Yet the same situation exists in the NGO area, particularly the United Nations (human rights council, unrwa, etc) and no one talks about it. Very odd.

  • Raymond in DC

    "UNRWA’s mandate, it must be noted, is purely humanitarian, rendering political pronouncements by a top staff member inappropriate." Given that UNRWA's mandate is effectively to *maintain* the refugee status of the original refugees and their descendants, rather than to resettle them as is done by the UN's HCR, it's hard to see how that makes UNRWA "purely humanitarian" and not political.

    What we see in Gaza is a political entity making war on its neighbor while expecting to maintain a "normal" economic life – a situation the world actively enables. Aggression thus has become cost-free. If Hamas starts another war and suffers the consequences, Clinton and the EU will jump to organize yet another donors conference to make them whole again … until the next round.