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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nice takedown of a takedown of UNRWA

Not all criticism of UNRWA comes from the perspective of the damage it does to Palestinian Arabs. Sometimes, as in a recent Comment is Free piece in the Guardian, the criticism comes because it helps stop Palestinian Arab terror.

The Kieron Monks piece starts off okay:
"Peace Starts Here" is the slogan adopted by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to promote its work in the Palestinian territories. But why does peace "start here"? Why not 60 years ago when UNRWA began its work with Palestinian refugees? Or 60 years in the future, when we will still be debating the same problems if the aid models do not change.

The timing of Chris Gunness's recent article about the UN agency's work was unfortunate, coinciding with strikes by UNRWA employees, which have paralysed essential services in the West Bank's 18 refugee camps. The laudable initiatives Gunness mentioned – health centres, schools, food for hardship cases – ground to a halt without his agency's patronage.

That's not sustainable development; it's a permanent life-support system. Neither is it sustainable for UNRWA, which had been forced to slash its services because of budget deficits even before the strikes began.

Palestine is one of the world's largest beneficiaries of foreign aid, receiving over $3bn (£1.9bn) annually (not including the budget of UNRWA itself). Yet a quarter of the West Bank population remains food-insecure and half of all Palestinians live below the poverty line.

If relief work is failing, economic development is even more worrying. Prime minister Salam Fayyad told the Annual Capital Forum that Palestine's GDP grew 9% in the past year, but as a former IMF representative he should know that the gains are hollow. In 2009, over 60% of Palestine's gross national income, and almost 100% of government expenditure, came from aid.
But then we start to see his real agenda:
The Palestinian Authority, which receives over $2bn annually, is answerable not to Palestinians, but to its donors. The aid-management structure in Palestine is innately political. At the top level, the ad hoc liaison committee, members include the United States and Israel. The impact of foreign interests can be clearly seen in PA budgets that allocate 10 times more money to security – suppressing resistance to the occupation – than to agriculture, which could be the backbone of the Palestinian economy.
Whoa! He is saying that the PA shouldn't be stopping terrorism; in fact he is implying that terrorism is a good thing!

The rest of the piece makes this clear - Monks' problem with UNRWA (and the PA) is not that they are hurting those they pretend to help, but that they are helping Israel! And so is the rest of the world when they fund these NGOs! It's a conspiracy meant to keep the Palestinian Arabs enslaved forever! Bwahahaha!

Adam Levick at CiFWatch does a very nice job at finding out that Monk's motivations are a bit suspect. Very much worth reading.