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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The enablers

In relationships, an enabler is someone whose actions allow another to continue his or her self-destructive behavior. It is most often seen in families where one member suffers from alcoholism or some other addiction and the other members cover up for that person rather than forcing him to directly suffer the consequences. The maladaptive individual does not have to be an addict, though - an example would be a 26 year old son who refuses to look for a job while his doting mother continues to make his bed and bake his favorite cookies.

The enablers will no doubt say that they do this out of a sense of love, or obligation, or protection.

This is exactly what UNRWA does.

Originally charged with providing temporary aid for Arab refugees from Palestine and then with finding a lasting solution based on resettlement and jobs programs, UNRWA has become the adoptive parents of millions of able-bodied adults who refuse to grow up and take responsibility for their own actions.

UNRWA's perspective has been warped over the years from a well-meaning agency meant to solve a problem to a huge, pathetic, self-perpetuating bureaucracy . This metamorphosis can be seen in its annual reports to the UN and its public statements today.

In a strange way, the UNRWA's acting as an uncritical, enabling parent is natural.

When one gives of oneself unconditionally to another, he or she tends to become emotionally attached to the recipient. Over time this often turns into love.

The UNRWA's goal is not to do what is best for Palestinian Arab refugees and their endless descendants; it is to unconditionally provide for them in perpetuity. Generations of this unselfish giving from an endless supply of international cash tends to change not just the recipient but also the giver, in this case into someone who will defend their helpless charges against all enemies. Now, we have a situation where most UNRWA workers are Palestinian Arabs themselves and the agency has become part of the family.

In Arab culture, the clan looks out for itself against all enemies.

This explains UNRWA's statements and actions.

Last year, in my first correspondence with the UNRWA's spokesman, I asked him to comment on the reports that the UNRWA was forced to close their own offices in response to threats and attacks by Palestinian Arabs. It was reported in the Arabic media but nothing was mentioned in the UNRWA website about it. Here is the response I got:
There had been problems but these have now been avoided for the time being.
Here we have a UN agency being literally attacked by mobs of people, but the reaction is to minimize the importance of the story to such an extent that its expansive PR machine remains silent.

My more recent emails with UNRWA, trying to see if they can find anything negative to say about Hamas' hijacking of aid trucks over the past year - events that even Hamas has acknowledged - results in the same stonewalling and avoidance.

One does not publicly embarrass one's family. The UNRWA might not be thrilled with Hamas actions, but even when they interfere with UNRWA activities - such as by firing rockets from next to or inside UNRWA facilities - they are excused, downplayed and redirected to hatred of the enemy. UNRWA might not be directly supporting Hamas terror, but it is enabling terror.

Just like enablers in families, the UNRWA cannot conceive that they are doing anything wrong.
They are convinced that they altrusitic, they are loving, they are helping defend their people against the world that cannot possibly understand what things are like on the inside.

The only way to break this cycle of enablement is to force the maladaptive member of the family to face up to the consequences of his actions. However, this is not a part of the UNRWA's charter. On the contrary, if the UNRWA would force Palestinian Arabs to act like adults who can solve their own problems, then they would be violating their own rules of providing perpetual aid.

Their enablement is enshrined for perpetuity.