Wednesday, August 11, 2010

From Ha'aretz:
The United Nations' relief agency for Palestinian refugees, lashed out Tuesday at the Israel Broadcasting Authority for airing what it called a a dishonest portrayal of the organization on Saturday in "Ro'im Olam" on Channel 1 television.

Right-wing journalist David Bedein's "For the Nakba", UNRWA said, contains numerous inaccuracies about its operations in Palestinian refugee camps and educational institutions. It depicts large graffiti that lionize Palestinian suicide bombers and includes an interview with Palestinian children who profess a desire to become "martyrs."

"Ro'im Olam" presenter Yaakov Ahimeir sought comment from UNRWA's Christopher Gunness, who watched the segment before it aired. Gunness said he warned of numerous inaccuracies, which were never corrected.

In a letter written prior to the airing, Gunness said UNRWA schools do not contain murals of suicide bombers, and that the textbooks shown are for use by 12th graders, while UNRWA schools do not go beyond ninth grade.

Gunness said students making derogatory statements about Israel are not enrolled at UNRWA schools, whose pupils are identifiable by their school uniforms. The spokesperson added that UNRWA does not sanction events that officially mark the Nakba, as the segment suggested. Gunness denied the film's assertion that a student in an agency-run school was an 18-year-old suicide bomber.

Gunness accused Channel 1 of airing "a stack of lies," and said editing the errors was "a matter of integrity."

In response, Ahimeir said: "Chris Gunness viewed the film before the broadcast, and his response was broadcast in full." After he sent me additional material, Ahimeir said, "This was also read on the air by me as UNRWA's response."

Bedein denied Gunness' claims. Palestinian kids, he said, study the materials from the textbooks at a young age, and the mural of the suicide bomber was seen at the entrance of the UNRWA school at the Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem.
I am not in a position to determine who is telling the truth for most of these issues, but I did find out one fact.

Gunness claims that UNRWA "does not sanction events that officially mark the Nakba," according to the article. I was surprised to see no evidence of UNRWA activities on Nakba day in the territories. However, UNRWA in Lebanon definitely commemorated "Nakba Day". This is from a UNRWA newsletter:

In remembrance of the 1948 Nakba and what the community describes as the “Second Nakba” caused by the conflict in Nahr el Bared in 2007, the Factions and Popular Committee will be running a series of activities including marches, sit-ins and distribution of black flags to commemorate the plight of the Palestinians.

Nazareth School in cooperation with Palestinian Arab Cultural Club held on May 13 an exhibit day to commemorate AL-Nakba anniversary.

To Set a New Guinness World Record in Commemoration of Al Nakba

On May 15, a group of Palestinian youth will draw the UN resolution 194 that endorses the Palestinian right to return with 6000 scarves. By that they will attempt to beat the current Guinness world record for the longest chain of scarves. The attempt is designed to commemorate the anniversary of Nakba day. A Guinness World Records Adjudicator will be present to officially verify the record attempt, which will involve a drawing of six thousand scarves connected in the shape of the UN Resolution 194, in an effort to break the current record of 2,932 m 5 cm (9,619 ft 6.81 in) made of 5,000 scarves and set in Spain on 29 August 2009. Art bands presenting folkloric dances, songs, and heritage sketches will entertain participants at the festivities, while organizers connect the scarves to achieve a total length of 6,000 m. All are invited to go commemorate Al Nakba in Beirut.

When: Saturday May 15
What Time: 3:00pm
Where: Sportive city of Beirut- Bir Hassan
The Nazareth school in Beddawi is a UNRWA school.

UPDATE: Here is the video (h/t Jed)



UPDATE 2: Adam at CiFWatch just happened to have a snapshot of a heroic Palestinian Arab throwing an incendiary device at the entrance to a UNRWA community center in Deheisheh:

UPDATE 3: The Arabic phrase has these peaceful words: (h/t Ali)

"My enemy, enemy of the sun, I will not compromise and I will resist till the last pulse in my veins"


Apparently, UNRWA has some 'splaining to do.

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