Expose the Palestinian “Refugee” Scam

Showing the shocking contrast between UNRWA (bad) and UNHCR (good).  Here
This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on 5th July, but is behind a paywall, so here it is in the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The thing is this: that UNRWA is a scam and a scandal and has been for many years.  It's got itself firmly suckling on the UN teat, as is not going to give up. In doing so, it's defined the meaning of "refugee" out of all recognition and uniquely so that the number of refugees continues to increase, based on the same original population. There are related issues like that no surrounding Arab country, all Muslim, have allowed any Palestinians to settle there, whereas Israel has allowed Jews kicked out of surrounding countries.
From the image above:
UNRWA (bad): serves 4.8 m refugees, in 5 countries, with 29,000 staff.
UNHCR (good): serves 34 m refugees, in 126 countries, with 7,700 staff.
The full text is below the fold.
Related: Comment on the article.


Expose the Palestinian ‘Refugee’ Scam

Expose the Palestinian ‘Refugee’ Scam
Jonathan Schanzer, Richard Goldberg
5th July 2018 - The Wall Street Journal
If President Trump wants to promote peace in the Middle East, his first step should be to declassify a key State Department report that would end the myth of Palestinian “refugees.”
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is singularly devoted to the Palestinian refugee issue. Unrwa labels more than five million Palestinians “refugees”—an impossible figure. The first Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, yielded roughly 800,000 Palestinian Arab refugees. Perhaps 30,000 remain alive today, but Unrwa has kept the refugee issue alive by labeling their descendants—in some cases great-great-grandchildren—as “refugees,” who insist on the “right of return” to their ancestors’ homes. Israel categorically rejects this demand.
Unrwa’s operations run counter to the broader mission of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which is to resettle those displaced by war. Unrwa’s mission, on the other hand, keeps the conflict’s embers glowing by refusing to resettle Palestinians in neighboring countries or even in the Palestinian territories.
If Mr. Trump wants his peace plan to have a chance, he has to challenge false Palestinian narratives. He did this by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. Embassy there. For decades, Palestinian leaders issued maximalist claims on Jerusalem. Mr. Trump’s move sent the message that making peace requires accepting reality.
Mr. Trump can send the same message by declassifying one document. In 2012 Congress ordered the State Department to disclose how many Palestinians currently served by Unrwa fled the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and how many are merely their descendants. The Obama administration classified the report, citing national security—as if revealing foreign census data were a threat to America.
A year and half into office, Mr. Trump hasn’t reversed this policy, but momentum is building against it. In April more than 50 House members urged State to declassify the report. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has done the same.
Removing the label of “refugee” from millions of Palestinians wouldn’t hurt them. Instead, it would unlock their economic potential and create an opportunity for lasting peace. Perhaps that’s why the Palestinian leadership is fighting it. Once the refugee issue is exposed as a scam, Palestinian leaders would have to learn how to govern, not merely stir up antagonism with Israel.
The inability of Palestinian leaders to detach from this 70-year-old story raises real concerns about whether peace is possible. But if Mr. Trump is committed, he can send a clear message to the millions living in Unrwa camps: Your leaders want to keep you in squalor, while America wants you to prosper. It’s the most pro-Palestinian step an American president could take.
Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism-finance analyst for the US Department of the Treasury, is senior vice president at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JSchanzer.
Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @rich_goldberg.
Follow the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD. FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.
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Some letters in response: (7 July):
Jonathan Schanzer and Richard Goldberg describe the fecklessness of United Nations efforts on behalf of Palestinian refugees in “Expose the Palestinian ‘Refugee’ Scam” (op-ed, July 6). The U.N. would do well to learn from Israel’s history following 1948 Arab invasion. Within a few years, Israel took in more than 600,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries and housed them in primitive tent camps called ma’abarot. Within a decade, it had turned these into development towns. Despite coming to Israel with nothing, Jews from countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Algeria and Libya—as well as East Jerusalem and the West Bank—looked forward and rebuilt their lives. Their descendants constitute more than half of Israel’s population.
One can speculate about how different the region could have been if Arab countries, with their vast land resources, had adopted similar policies. Jordan could have set up a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Lebanon could have ended its restrictions on Palestinians buying property or acquiring citizenship. Egypt could have allowed development of the Gaza strip rather than using it as a base to attack Israel. Instead they deliberately perpetuated the issue, with refugee status passed down to all descendants, something done only in this conflict.
The U.N. should amend its policy by recognizing that a population exchange took place, and withholding refugee status for future generations of Palestinians. U.N. reformers could point to the tenfold larger population exchange that occurred between India and Pakistan after India was partitioned during the same era. After that 10-year period of resettlement, neither side there perpetuated refugee status for those who had not yet returned.
Doron Lubinsky
Atlanta
Unique among relief agencies, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees hinders, rather than helps, restoration of its recipients to normal lives. UNRWA also diminishes the resources available to a sister agency, UNHCR, which is responsible for all the rest of the world’s refugees. Its absurd statistics would make the most crooked accountant blush from shame. Ever-expanding rolls, now unto the fifth generation, generously also include the dead and the fled.
Dismantlement of this rogue agency would help Palestinians and free up desperately needed funds for the truly needy. Replacing entrenched fantasies with reality also remains the sine qua non for advancing any prospects for peace.
Richard D. Wilkins
Syracuse, N.Y.
Messrs. Goldberg and Schanzer brings to mind a clear solution to the Arab refugee problem. I refer to “Arab” rather than “Palestinian” refugees because they did not call themselves Palestinians until decades after they became refugees.
As a citizen of Israel, I offer this suggestion to the Israeli government: offer the “right to return” to every actual refugee. The only stipulations should be that they agree to become loyal Israeli citizens, supporting their new state against all its enemies, and recognize that they will be responsible for finding homes and supporting themselves.
This would completely end the refugee conflict. Since there are probably even fewer than the 30,000 refugees hypothesized in the article, all at least 70 years old and unlikely to have more children, they would also not pose a demographic problem. The responsibility for integrating the descendants of refugees would then fall on the parties responsible: the Arab states and the Palestinian Authority.
Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel

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