Friday, September 14, 2018

  • Friday, September 14, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
In 1951, UNRWA was not yet a tool of Palestinian Arabs and was still willing to say negative things about the people it had to deal with.

Current reports from UNRWA would never, ever admit what they freely admitted in the 1951 Interim Report:

13. An accurate statement of the number of genuine refugees resulting from the war in Palestine is unlikely to be provided now or in the future. In fact, it is almost impossible to define closely the word "refugee," as applied to the work of the Agency, without leaving certain groups of deserving people outside those accepted, or conversely, including groups who probably should not be in receipt of relief.
14. The Agency has steadfastly resisted persistent and persuasive efforts to have it become responsible for the care and feeding of citizens of the various countries who are merely needy or destitute as a result of the war in Palestine. It has taken the stand that its funds were not provided for that purpose and should be applied only to relief and works for genuine refugees. If the needy, assumed to number more than 150,000, were added to the Agency's burden, little money would be left to apply to works projects. Many of the needy are now actually in poorer circumstances than the average refugee because the latter receives food, medical care and some clothing, little of which is available to the non-refugee. Appeals have been made by the Agency to voluntary organizations to feed and clothe the needy who are not entitled to be classified as refugees.
UNRWA failed at this mission and ended up absorbing hundreds of thousands of non-refugees as refugees. Today it confidently says there are over 5 million "refugees" without any of the caveats about their status as mentioned in 1951.
15. For working purposes, the Agency has decided that a refugee is a needy person, who, as a result of the war in Palestine, has lost his home and his means of livelihood. A large measure of flexibility in the interpretation of the above definition is accorded to chief district officers to meet the many border-line cases which inevitably arise. In some circumstances, a family may have lost part or all of its land from which its living was secured, but it may still have a house to live in. Others may have lived on one side of the boundary but worked in what is now Israel most of the year. Others, such as Bedouins, normally moved from one area of the country to another, and some escaped with part or all of their goods but cannot return to the area where they formerly resided the greater part of the time. These examples give an idea of the varying conditions that must be met in administering the relief programme.

16. The Agency has accepted as realistic the figures set forth in appendix B of the first interim report of the United Nations Economic Survey Mission, but recognizes that the numbers have increased in conformity with the extremely high birthrate of the refugees. There is reason to believe that births are always registered for ration purposes, but deaths are often, if not usually, concealed so that the family may continue to collect rations for the deceased. It also is evident that many of the 99,000 mentioned in the above report as "in gainful employment" are now on rations. It is unlikely that numbers will be reduced below 800,000, and it is possible that that number may be exceeded.
17. The Gaza area, having a highly concentrated refugee population housed mainly in camps and under military control by the Egyptian army, is probably the nearest to correct in its figures concerning the numbers of refugees. At 1 August 199,000 were registered. Syria, with the smallest number of refugees on rations, is next in accuracy, with 82,000 registered. The figures for Lebanon (128,000) are confused due to the fact that many Lebanese nationals along the Palestinian frontier habitually worked most of the year on the farms or in the citrus groves of Palestine. With the advent of war they came back across the border and claimed status as refugees. Only an exhaustive and expensive census, now under way although ardently opposed by those concerned, will divide worthy from false claimants.
The census never happened.
18. The former Trans-Jordan and the portion of Palestine remaining in Arab hands and now annexed to the Hashimite Kingdom of the Jordan received the greatest influx of refugees of any of the countries adjacent to Israel -- probably more than half of all the refugees. For various reasons, the largest number of fictitious names on the ration lists pertain to refugees in this area. All earlier attempts at a close census of those entitled to relief have been frustrated, but a comprehensive survey, now under way, is achieving worthwhile results in casting up names of dead people for which rations are still drawn, fraudulent claims regarding numbers of dependents (it is alleged that it is a common practice for refugees to hire children from other families at census time), and in eliminating duplications where families have two or more ration cards. The census, though stubbornly resisted, will eliminate many thousands from the lists of refugees now in receipt of rations. The number on lists in Jordan at 31 August was 485,000 with 430,000 rations distributed.
The census never happened.

26. Strangely enough the general morale of the refugees is higher than might be expected after spending more than two years in exile under most trying conditions. Real trouble-makers are confined to a very small proportion of the total number of refugees, and food strikes and work stoppages are generally considered to be the result of organized pressure groups. There is considerable evidence indicating that subversive effort is fairly widely diffused amongst the refugees. The Arab is, however, a confirmed individualist and does not offer the most fruitful type of field in which to extol the benefits of any form of government which might propose to alter his traditional mode of life. Otherwise, it is almost inevitable that the misery and suffering of the refugees would already have made them almost completely the tools of pressure groups wishing to exploit their misery for political or other reasons.
It is unclear if this is naivete on UNRWA's part at the time. Clearly the "leaders" of the Palestinians were not interested in reintegrating them among Arab nations, and neither were Arab leaders. UNRWA caved to this.

(h/t Joe in Australia)

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