Defunding UNRWA

US and Western ‘values’ sink to a new low

Before discussing the sadistic and inhuman attack on UNRWA led by the US and some of its Western clients based on politicised Israeli allegations, I must point out that my own schooling and healthcare and the survival of my 13-member family were largely due to this agency. There are millions like me in diaspora refugee camps or in exile around the world who, despite some reservations, owe it our gratitude and appreciation.

Israel is waging a war of extermination which began with bombing from the air, ground, and sea and proceeded to the systematic destruction of all the basic requisites of life for people in the Gaza Strip via enforced evacuation and starvation, bombardment and massacres, barring the entry of food and medical aid, and destroying most of the hospitals and schools, water, electricity and fuel sources, and even bakeries.

Ten states followed the USA, leader of the ‘free world’ and champion of democracy and human rights, in ending all funding to UNRWA because Israel accused 12 of its employees — with no investigation or evidence presented — of involvement in Hamas’ 7 October attack on military bases and settlements int he Gaza Envelope, even though the agency had hurriedly sacked them all in a bid to spare two million people from starvation.

I have lived in the West for 40 years since obtaining an employment contract with an Arab media institution in London. In other words, I did not come as a political refugee, but have been paying onerous taxes from day one until now, even though I am above retirement age. One of the constant accusations I have encountered is that we Arabs and Muslims make hasty and irrational judgements without proper consideration, and this is inconsistent with Western values which are based on reason, evidence-based judgement, and established fact.

Much of this rational West has made a mockery of those values by following the US in defunding UNRWA without conducting any independent investigation to examine the Israeli claims.

Israel accused 12 of UNRWA’s 30,000 employees of breaking neutrality rules by joining the resistance, and the agency instantly terminated their contracts. What Western law could possibly justify such an injustice, collectively punishing 30,000 innocent staffers and — more seriously — starving two million people who have been forced into tents or onto streets time and time again, with 27,000 of them killed and 70,000, injured, and 86% of their homes destroyed?

The fabricated charges against UNRWA are the latest in a series of smears against the UN, its agencies, and its secretary-general which Israel has used to justify bombing schools and hospitals, closing borders, and preventing the delivery of humanitarian and medical aid. Tens of thousands took refuge in UN facilities in the belief they could provide a measure of protection and that even Israel would abide by the rules and ethics of war and refrain from bombing them. But that belief was tragically mistaken. The US and its Western acolytes place this rogue state above all and any law.

UNRWA has said it now won’t be able to continue providing relief and healthcare services in the Gaza Strip beyond the end of February. This means tens of thousands of people, especially children and the elderly, will die of hunger and illness, and 30,000 more families will have no breadwinners. How does that make Biden, Macron, or the other Western leaders who submitted to US and Israeli orders and cut off funding feel? They’re probably overjoyed, having no semblance of humanity or compassion or sympathy for the oppressed.

Anyone cutting off funding to UNRWA makes themselves complicit in the genocidal war along with Netanyahu and all his supporters in and outside the occupation state. They will one day be held accountable, if not in this world, then the next.

Finally, a word of appreciation for those Western countries that refused to submit to Israeli extortion — including Switzerland, Spain, Norway, and Greece — and announced they would continue funding UNRWA. They showed there is still some reason left in a world benighted by US hegemony in the service of Israeli massacres and ethnic cleansing in the Gaza Strip.

Defunding UNRWA

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