If one doesn’t start a discussion soon with the refugees for them to consider what their own future might be – for them to start debating their own role in the societies where they are rather than being left in a state of limbo where they are helpless but preserve rather the cruel illusions that perhaps they will return one day to their homes – then we are storing up trouble for ourselves.He was slammed for this bit of obvious truth by Jordan, the PA and by groups who called for him to be fired.
We recognize, as I think most do, although it’s not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent.
It’s not a politically palatable issue, it’s not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it’s a known contour to the issue.
Instead of standing up and saying that he spoke the truth - he caved.
Ma'an Arabic quotes him as saying "I send my apologies to Palestinian refugees for any pain caused by my remarks. I have spent a lot of my time in the service of the Palestinian refugee issue and I've worked to serve and defend their rights in a professional manner.
"These remarks were wrong and do not represent the view of UNRWA, and I believe that it is not right for the Palestinian refugees to give up their basic rights including the right of return."
By giving in to the pressure, of course, Whitley is contributing to - and extending - the misery of the people that he is claiming to serve and defend.
Way to go, Whitley!
(See also my letter to the UN.)