Here is the report I received back from the person who attended the lunch with John Ging, Gaza UNRWA chief, where I hoped he would answer some real questions:
He had just said that half-truths dominate the discourse on the conflict, and he then proceeded to quote a poll from some agency saying Palestinians support a two-state solution, and one person challenged him by saying that other polls show the exact opposite (e.g. historic palestine, unwilling to comprise on major issues etc.). His response, in part (and I'm not joking), was that Palestinians love Israel, even in Gaza, because they buy Israeli goods rather than Egyptian ones.
I, in turn, asked him, "By your logic, does that mean that Palestinians love settlements because they choose to build them." I admitted to being facetious but he took the point well.
I then asked about his support for the flotilla, which he answered by saying he was misquoted because it was originally in Norwegian (he used this excuse several times).
When asked about James Lindsay's critique of UNRWA, he dismissed the whole content by saying (1) Lindsay never raised those concerns during his employment, (2) there is an American auditing service to ensure accountability, and (3) the list of UNRWA employees are always cleared with Israel.
Someone asked him about the unique definition of Palestinian refugee, and he again said this is a popular myth, and that the definition was "identical" to the UNHRC one, which is clearly false.
The whole thing was actually interesting but he was a politician, unafraid to lie, plain and simple.
Indeed, he is.
Because I just looked up that Norwegian interview that he says was mistranslated. It was in Aftenposten.
And they included a video of his interview - in English.
He is saying in plain English that he wants the international community to send ships to Gaza to avoid Israel and Egypt.
Now, Ging yesterday seems to have argued that the misquoting was about his supporting independent ships to Gaza - he in fact seems to be saying now that he supports nations to send their own ships directly to Gaza. I'm not sure why it would be better to trust Turkey or Iran or Syria to send ships straight to Gaza than the ISM or IHH, and the implication is that he is saying that an organization dedicated to destroying a single nation can be trusted to act responsibly with the goods that it is bringing in, as but the fact is that the UN itself has come out against any aid going directly to Gaza via the sea.
In this case he might be able to say that he was misquoted about flotillas, but what he said is damning enough.
I might get audio of the talk so we can hear precisely how he worded it.
Iraq Situation Report: May 11-24, 2016
5 hours ago