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‘If UNRWA leaves, we won’t survive’ — Refugees brace for hard times as US ends aid

Israel/Palestine
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On Saturday morning, millions of Palestinian refugees woke up to the news that UNRWA, the UN agency that, for generations now, has provided them with essential services from education and jobs to food assistance, was one step closer to the brink of collapse.

As some 5 million Palestinian refugees — the descendants of those who were forcibly expelled from their homes when Israel was created in 1948 — laid there heads to bed the night before, in cramped refugee camps across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the occupied West Bank and Gaza, the US had decided to cut all of its funding to UNRWA.

In Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp, home to some 6,000 refugees registered with UNRWA, chatter spilled from people’s living rooms, through their windows, and into the narrow streets.

“Do you think the kids will go to school tomorrow?” a woman asked. “May God help us,” another could be heard saying. All across the camp, televisions and smartphones blasted with the news, each one broadcasting a different Arab commentator’s take on the situation.

Nagham al-Jaf’s home was no different. Al-Jaf, 43, originally from Iraqi Kurdistan, has lived in Aida camp for the better part of 25 years. Her husband is the child of refugees from the Jerusalem-area village of Deir Aban.

“We first started noticing the problems with UNRWA around two years ago,” she told Mondoweiss, as she sat in the small courtyard next to her apartment, surrounded by water tanks.

“First they started reducing the food assistance programs, then, they started reducing the number of agency jobs that they gave to people in the camps. Then we noticed it in the clinics. They wouldn’t have the medicines we needed, or wouldn’t cover us for procedures and medicines that they used to,” she said.

“And now, the next thing that’s going to get cut is the schools.”

Nagham al-Jaf, and her daughter Noora, who is a student at an UNRWA run school in the Aida refugee camp (photo by Yumna Patel)

Al-Jaf is the mother of six children — two of whom still attend the UN primary schools in the camp, which are run by UNRWA.

Like many other parents in the camp, al-Jaf wasn’t sure the school would open its doors for the school year, which began a few days ago, because of prior US funding cuts to UNRWA, and are not sure they will reopen after the weekend.

“Our kids used to go to school with around 20 kids per classroom. Now, in my son’s classes, there are more than 40 kids in each room,” she said. “How are they supposed to learn like this?”

“Even the teachers are not stable. They used to get yearly contracts, now they get monthly contracts, and are scared each month that they won’t have a job the next day,” she said, the frustration in her voice mounting.

She says all of her friends have the same laundry list of concerns. Will the schools shut down? If so, where will the kids go? They surely don’t have enough money to afford the private schools in Bethlehem. Even the public schools, which al-Jaf says are a 15 minute drive away from the camp, are unaffordable.

“If UNRWA leaves its hands from the camp, and from the schools, we won’t be able to survive, not at all,” al-Jaf said.

Friday’s cuts are the latest in a series of devastating blows delivered by the Trump administration to the Palestinians over the past year. Just last week, the US announced that it would be cutting over $200 million initially intended for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to use for projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

In July, chaos erupted in Gaza after UNRWA announced that it would be laying off hundreds of its employees as a direct result of not being able to recover from the massive US budget cuts this year.

Earlier this year, the US cut its aid to UNRWA to $60 million from a promised $350 million for the year, saying the agency needed to make unspecified reforms and calling on the Palestinians to renew peace talks with Israel.

Despite repeated condemnations by Palestinian and international officials who have deemed the Trump administration’s tactics as “coercion” and “blackmailing” the Palestinians into accepting a less than optimal US-brokered peace deal with Israel, US officials have maintained such rhetoric in the days leading up to Friday’s announcement.

During a talk earlier this week with a pro-Israel think tank in Washington D.C., US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley agreed with the moderator who said that UNRWA “overcounts their numbers.”

She went on to say that the US would work with the agency again in the event that it “reforms what it does” and “if they actually change the number of refugees to an accurate account.”

The majority of the 5 million registered refugees with UNRWA are descendants of the estimated 750,000 refugees who were forcibly displaced from Palestine in 1948.

Haley went on to question the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their homelands — something that has largely been classified as a “final status” issue in the event of a peace agreement — and agreed with the moderator when he asked if the right of return should be “taken off the table.”

The desire of the US government to vastly reduce the number of registered refugees from 5 million to a few hundred thousand, is perhaps one of the biggest insults to Palestinian refugees, who view the right of return as one of, if not the most important, parts of their identity.

Dr. Abed al-Fattah Abu Srour, the director of one of several youth centers in Aida camp, spoke to Mondoweiss, saying that part of UNRWA’s responsibility to Palestinian refugees, is to reaffirm their identity as refugees through the agency’s work.

Abed al-Fattah Abu Srour

“UNRWA should not cease its operations until every refugee is given the choice to return to their homeland and the villages that were erased off the map in 1948. No facts on the ground can change this right to return,” he said.

“The right of return is a collective right, and an individual right as well,” Abu Srour, whose family is originally from the Hebron-area village of Beit Nattif, said.

“I have the right to choose if I want to return or not. It should not be a dictation from the Israelis, the Americans, or even the Palestinian Authority itself,” he said.

“The Americans can say whatever they want. That does not give them the right to decide, on our behalf, what is on the table of negotiations and what is not.”

In the announcement on Friday, the State Department reportedly criticized what it called UNRWA’s “irredeemably flawed operation” and “way of doing business.”

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness responded to the statement, saying “we reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA’s schools, health centers, and emergency assistance programs are ‘irredeemably flawed’.”

Gunness went on to say that “these very programs have a proven track record in creating one of the most successful human development processes and results in the Middle East,” highlighting the World Bank’s recognition of UNRWA “for running one of the most effective school systems in the region, in which students regularly outperform their peers in public schools.”

He added that despite cuts from the US, which was previously the largest donor to the agency, UNRWA would continue to fundraise and work with existing donor countries to “provide high-quality services and assistance to over 5.4 M Palestine refugees.”

UNRWA currently runs 702 schools for Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, providing education to more than 500,000 students, and employing close to 22,000 teachers and staff.

According to the agency, around 1.5 million individuals — nearly one-third of the registered Palestine refugees — live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

UNRWA maintains schools, health clinics and distribution centers in and outside of the camps, where “socioeconomic conditions are generally poor, with high population density, cramped living conditions and inadequate basic infrastructure such as roads and sewers.”

With the organization scrambling to stay afloat, international and local officials have expressed fear that the recent budget cuts will aggravate an already dire humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in Gaza.

Gaza is home to more than 2 million Palestinians, over 70% of whom are refugees, and due to the crippling Israeli siege, Gaza’s economy has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world at 44 percent, leaving an estimated 80 percent of the territory’s population dependent on humanitarian assistance from organizations like UNRWA.

Gaza has often been compared to an “open air prison,” and in 2015, the UN warned that the it could become “unlivable” by 2020 if nothing was done to improve the situation.

yumnapatel
About Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is a multimedia journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

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38 Responses

  1. mondonut
    mondonut
    September 1, 2018, 1:02 pm

    In the UN, 167 countries voted to renew the mandate of the UNRWA. $2mm each (chump change) ought to cover it. Problem solved.

    • September 3, 2018, 8:32 am

      Yes, where are they?
      KSA has a billionaire on the throne.
      Where are Gates, Soros, Samantha Power, and the other liberal “humanitarians” now?

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      September 3, 2018, 11:21 am

      @modonut

      Meanwhile, “Israel,” an illegal, brutal occupier of Palestinian and other Arab lands, an ethnic cleanser and a well documented ongoing, accelerating violator of international humanitarian law, will receive another 38 $billion in aid from the US courtesy of its taxpayers.

      For the record:
      https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf
      “Congressional Research Service, U.S. Foreign aid to Israel, Jeremy M. Sharpe, Specialist in Middle East Affairs, April 10, 2018.”
      “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion (current, or non inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. At a signing ceremony at the State Department on September 14, 2016, representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel. This MOU replaces a previous $30 billion 10-year agreement, which runs through FY2018.”

      Its been 70 years and “Israel” is still unable to stand on its own feet – talk about an utter failure!! Inevitably, as history attests, the American people will realize it is a parasite on the body of their country and demand it be removed.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        September 3, 2018, 3:32 pm

        @Misterioso

        Another great idea, allow the Palestinians to wallow while they wait on the American people to demand that Israel be removed. With friends like you the Palestinians need no more enemies.

      • American Perspective
        American Perspective
        September 3, 2018, 3:52 pm

        Israel is allied with the United States.

        Israeli conservatives were anti-Soviet, won wars against Communist client states, sided with us against Saddam Hussein, against the Jihad, against the Islamic Republic and have been an almost singular stalwart in support of our President.

        By contrast, the State of Palestine supported the Soviet Union’s war, sided with Saddam Hussein, support the Jihad, and are virulent opponents of President Trump.

        Why would Americans give any aid to our enemy, the Arab nationalists living in Palestine?

        And to the extent the United States leverages the military assistance it provides Israel, it is to stop Israel from building a competitor to the F-16 and protecting the Moslems from genocide.

      • amigo
        amigo
        September 3, 2018, 4:26 pm

        “By contrast, the State of Palestine supported the Soviet Union’s war, sided with Saddam Hussein, support the Jihad, and are virulent opponents of President Trump. “American Perspective.

        A majority of Americans and most of the rest of global civil society are virulent opponents of Trump.

  2. catalan
    catalan
    September 1, 2018, 2:49 pm

    Mondo was “Bernie or Bust”. So that’s what the “bust” looks like.

  3. bcg
    bcg
    September 1, 2018, 3:55 pm

    We might ask why the Palestinians just can’t take care of themselves – why can’t they just start their own businesses like the start-up nation next door does? Why should they live on handouts? To answer that question we need to examine the role Israel and it’s enabler, the U.S., has played in the economic life of the Palestinians.

    You don’t need a Harvard MBA to understand that any successful economy needs a constant flow of investment money, and Israel is doing its best to make the rest of the world understand that it’s a bad idea to park your capital in the West Bank or Gaza:

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180808-israel-bulldozers-demolish-palestinian-coffee-firm-in-jerusalem/

    “Israel bulldozers demolish Palestinian coffee firm in Jerusalem”

    This stuff goes on all the time, and not very many investors are going to invest in Palestinian businesses. Israel wants the Palestinians economically helpless.

    • mondonut
      mondonut
      September 2, 2018, 12:51 am

      The world does not need the Americans or the Israelis to know that investing in a terrorist controlled Gaza is a bad idea.

      • bcg
        bcg
        September 2, 2018, 11:40 am

        @Mondonut: The world understands that investing in an open air prison – as David Cameron called Gaza – is not a good business proposition.

      • Misterioso
        Misterioso
        September 3, 2018, 10:59 am

        @mondonut

        “The world does not need the Americans or the Israelis to know that investing in a terrorist controlled Gaza is a bad idea.”

        Sigh. More bull crap from Hasbara Central.

        A reminder:

        On 16 June 2009, after meeting with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Ismail Haniya, prime minister of Hamas’s Gaza Strip government, announced that “If there is a real plan to resolve the Palestinian question on the basis of the creation of a Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967 [i.e. 22% of historic Palestine per 1949 armistice agreements] and with full sovereignty, we are in favour of it.” “Israel” ignored the offer.

        http://www.haaretz.com/isra…
        “‘We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees,’ Haniyeh said, referring to the year of Middle East war in which “Israel” captured East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. ” (Haaretz, December 1, 2010) No response from “Israel.”

        In its revised Charter, April, 2017, Hamas again agreed to a Palestinian state based on the 4 June 1967 borders. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, “Israel” promptly rejected the Hamas overture instead of using it to open a dialogue.

        https://www.haaretz.com/isr…
        “Senior Hamas Official: ‘I Think We Can All Live Here in This Land – Muslims, Christians and Jews.’” By Nir Gontarz. March 28, 2018, Haaretz.

        As for Netanyahu and the Likud party, here’s a brief summation of their positions that are contrary to international law and explain why the conflict continues:
        The Likud Party Platform:
        a. “The Jordan river will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.”
        b. “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem”
        c. “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”
        d. “…. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”

      • amigo
        amigo
        September 3, 2018, 11:41 am

        “Sigh. More bull crap from Hasbara [email protected] Misterioso

        Mondonut has had this pointed out to him/her on numerous occasions but it does not seem to permeate that thick skull.

        However we should be grateful to the nut for providing us with numerous occasions by which to debunk his lies and ensure that casual readers are not misled by those lies.

        Keep up the good work mondonut.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        September 3, 2018, 2:40 pm

        mondonut: “The world does not need the Americans or the Israelis to know that investing in a terrorist controlled Gaza is a bad idea.”

        Yep, because the real terrorist destroy everything they can.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        September 3, 2018, 3:29 pm

        @Misterioso Sigh. More bull crap from Hasbara Central.

        Yet another off topic post that proves nothing at all. Nothing in your cut and paste job disproves that the Hamas terrorist group controls Gaza and as such eliminates significant foreign investment.

        But to address your nonsense, none of your quotes indicates any willingness of Hamas accepting Israel as a state and neighbor. In short, they all verify their intent to eliminate the State of Israel. This is hardly news.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        September 3, 2018, 11:03 pm

        @Mondonut

        You said:

        “The world does not need the Americans or the Israelis to know that investing in a terrorist controlled Gaza is a bad idea.”

        What the world fears the most, and as a result does not invest in or donate for infrastructure to Gaza, is Israeli terrorism in case of a war with Gaza, because Israel has demonstrated in the past its willingness to target infrastructure even when there is no legitimate military objective to be achieved (and that’s state terrorism). I quote from INSS, Israel’s leading think tank on security matters:

        http://www.inss.org.il/publication/human-security-humanitarian-trends-gaza-looking-past-decade/

        “For over a decade, critical civilian infrastructure [in Gaza] has come under attack, whether deliberately or through some measure of concerted negligence. In 2006, following the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Israel targeted six of the transformers of the Gaza power plant and its fuel reservoirs.

        In the 2014 war (Protective Edge) Israel proudly admitted that it targeted for destruction civilian structures in order to achieve a ceasefire as quickly as possible. I quote from another INSS link:

        http://www.inss.org.il/index.aspx?id=4538&articleid=8720

        “During Operation Protective Edge, it was necessary to damage Hamas’s strategic capabilities (the rockets and the offensive tunnels), its operatives, the infrastructures serving the organization, and its senior commanders (by targeted assassinations) before Hamas would accept a ceasefire and be deterred from continuing the fighting. But this cumulative achievement[of the IDF] was not enough to motivate Hamas to agree to a ceasefire, because Israel chose not to threaten the organization’s future or act to undermine its rule of the Gaza Strip. Only after causing damage to the assets of Gaza’s social elite, which provides legitimacy to Hamas’ rule, by bombing the city’s residential high rises, did Hamas’s profit-loss calculus change.”

        One more INSS link on the same point:

        “Can Declaration of War Be Part of a Strategy to Offset the Asymmetry of the Israeli-Hamas Conflict in the Gaza Strip? Kobi Michael and Ilana Kwartin”:

        http://www.inss.org.il/uploadImages/systemFiles/6_Michael_Kwartin760393647.pdf

        “ In fact, it was only during the operation’s last week, after Israel bombed prominent symbols of Hamas’s rule, especially the high-rise apartment buildings in downtown Gaza City, that Hamas changed its conduct. To borrow from Defense Minister Ya’alon, the turnaround in this operation – Hamas’ agreeing to a ceasefire on Israel’s terms – occurred only after Israel “removed the gloves” in the last week and dared do what it hadn’t done before.”

        According to Yoram Dinstein, an Israeli international Law expert, we have a violation of international Law in such cases of destroying structures merely for securing a ceasefire. I quote from Dinstein’s “The conduct of hostilities under the Law of International Armed Conflict(LOIAC)”, second edition page 93:

        “LOIAC does not condone an attack against objects that are not military objectives only because the attack serves as a catalyst to an early cessation of hostilities (see infra 311). A potential political outcome is not an admissible consideration in assessing the character of the object as a military objective. And ‘forcing change in the negotiating attitudes’ of the enemy cannot be deemed a proper military advantage”.”

        Additionally, the Qatar envoy who is now in talks with Israel about pouring money to Gaza for infrastructure projects (July 2018) tried to secure Israel’s commitment not to perpetrate state terrorism by punitively targeting in case of a war the hypothetical projects that Qatar will fund. His fear was not that Hamas would use them as a cover (he explicitly acknowledged that in such a case he would expect Israel to strike and he clearly implied that he viewed such an eventuality as unlikely and therefore as not warranting shunning the infrastructure projects ) but his fear was that Israel might strike the hypothetical Qatari infrastructure projects anyway as a punitive show of force in case of a war, and that’s why he sought to commit Israel not to act in its habitual terrorist ways:

        https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/07/palestine-gaza-qatar-hamas-israel-talks.html?utm_campaign=20180730&utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily%20Newsletter

        ” [the Qatari Ambassador to Palestine al-Emadi] further stressed that “it is very difficult to fund the reconstruction of Gaza in an event of yet another destructive war,” adding that he had “discussed a maximum of five- to 10-year cease-fire with Hamas” …He noted that he had agreed with Israel that should it [Israel] wage a war, Qatari projects would remain intact unless it [Israel] was targeting Hamas.

        In other words, he was asking Israel: “Dear Israel, can you please not behave like a mad terrorist dog as you sometimes do? Can you give me your word that you won’t destroy what I built if Hamas does not fire from there?”. Why would he be trying to secure such a promise by Israel if it were not the case that Israel indeed targets infrastructure for no legitimate military reason?

        You see mondonut, when Israel swaggers around like Colonel Erran Moran, bragging that it acts like a hooligan or like a mad dog, throwing threats about Dahiya doctrines, starting wars out of the blue, and in general acting like the neighbourhood’s terrorist bully, it is natural for donors/investors to be mostly afraid of Israel, not of Hamas – contrary to your claims.

        But what is really striking (I mean, over and above Israel’s terrorist strikes) is that you are sincerely expressing mainstream views about Hamas that are outright false. The reason is that the echo chamber that misinforms both supporters of Israel like you and impartial Westerners in general is intent on demonizing Hamas in the most crude way. Hamas demonization is the point where Tom Friedman behaves journalistically like the Elder of Ziyon, the point where the Guardian propagandizes like CAMERA, liberally construing facts in a demonizing way for Hamas, or outright fabricating “facts”. The issue here is not the disrespect the New York Times and the Guardian show for their audiences. The real issue is that this demonization is hindering pragmatic debate about the conflict and its resolution – not to mention that the Jewish Diaspora is artificially kept in a state of semi-ignorance, and that’s a demographic that can sway the odds, if it is properly informed.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        September 4, 2018, 12:55 am

        @Mondonut

        I forgot to post the link you will find the most trustworthy for proving that donors are afraid that Israel might target their investments for destruction in case of war in order to punish the Gaza population and, through it, Hamas. It is a link from the dedicatedly pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), July 2018, from Israeli ret General Michael Herzog (he is a hotshot, but I don’t like his analyses). Here is what he says (and keep in mind he is very anti-Hamas):

        https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/neutralizing-the-gaza-powder-keg

        “Israel can consider implementing certain projects on its own side of the border. These could include industrial zones and a solar energy power plant to provide electricity for Gaza. Indeed, Israel has already authorized the establishment of a solar plant for Gaza near the Erez border crossing. Such moves could alleviate donors’ concerns about Hamas exploiting or Israel targeting their investments.”

        Translation: if Israel allows infrastructure for Gaza to be built in Israeli territory, Israel will have no excuse to destroy it in case of war, and the concerns that these donors have that Israel in case of a war would potentially target their projects will be neutralized.

        If Israel had not been deliberately targeting military infrastructure for no legitimate military reason in the past, the donors wouldn’t have had this concern about which the General informed us, and the General wouldn’t have been suggesting the building of infrastructure in Israeli territory as a means for neutralizing the donors’ concern about Israeli terrorist strikes against infrastructure.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        September 4, 2018, 2:13 am

        @mondonut

        In your reply to Misterioso you said:

        “the Hamas terrorist group controls Gaza and as such eliminates significant foreign investment.”

        Surely, you must have heard somewhere that Hamas had offered to Abbas civil control of Gaza. Surely you must have heard somewhere that many Israeli politicians are blaming Abbas, not Hamas, for Abbas’ not assuming his responsibility to rule Gaza. Abbas is asking that Hamas disarm here and now, as a precondition for his assuming responsibility for Gaza ruling. The demand is deemed totally unrealistic from the Israeli defense establishment. To the extent that the international community prefers Abbas instead of Hamas to be responsible for the management of rehabilitation projects, the one who is torpedoing the foreign funding is Abbas, who is refusing to come and rule Gaza even though Hamas is willing to cede all civil control to him. It’s not Hamas’ fault. These are known facts ( i am just too tired to post links) so i wonder why you are speaking so dismissively to Misterioso while you are basing your self on an utterly false ascription of responsibility for the lack of foreign funding.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        September 4, 2018, 9:00 am

        A correction:

        I said:

        “If Israel had not been deliberately targeting military infrastructure for no legitimate military reason in the past,

        I should have said:

        “If Israel had not been deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure for no legitimate military reason in the past,

      • amigo
        amigo
        September 4, 2018, 12:37 pm

        “But to address your nonsense, none of your quotes indicates any willingness of Hamas accepting Israel as a state and neighbor.”mondonut

        Evidence you did not read his nonsense.

    • American Perspective
      American Perspective
      September 3, 2018, 3:53 pm

      Of course, the State of Palestine could just end their war. That’s another option.

      • amigo
        amigo
        September 3, 2018, 4:50 pm

        “Of course, the State of Palestine could just end their war. That’s another option.” captADKer

        Shhh, if Shin beth or the folks at Mossad catch you proposing ideas like that , you will be persona non gratis in the historic Homeland of The Jewish people.

        https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-purpose-of-the-escalation-1.5406088

      • eljay
        eljay
        September 3, 2018, 7:14 pm

        || American Perspective: Of course, the State of Palestine could just end their war. That’s another option. ||

        Of course, the women chained in the basement could just end their war. That’s another option and, not surprisingly, it’s also the rapist’s favourite option.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        September 4, 2018, 2:22 am

        AP: “Of course, the State of Palestine could just end their war.”

        Who started a war in 1948 to take over the country of the people of Palestine and expell its majority? Who occupies a people for more than half a century to illegally settle their land? That’s the real aggressor and you know it.

      • American Perspective
        American Perspective
        September 5, 2018, 12:32 pm

        The Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

        Oh, you said Palestine. The Arab nationalists started a war in 1948 and expelled the inhabitants who were not Arab nationalist. It’s a moral stain they live with still.

        The Turkish Republic has occupied Cyprus for a half-century. Don’t worry, the State of Palestine provides Turkey political cover and, as was reported yesterday, Palestine is building massive illegal settlements throughout the occupied territory.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        September 5, 2018, 6:04 pm

        American Psycho: “Oh, you said Palestine. The Arab nationalists started a war in 1948 and expelled the inhabitants who were not Arab nationalist.”

        I should have clarified that we are not talking about the Kahane continuum, but about this universe. In this universe Jews started a full fleged war to acquire state territory and expelled Nonjews to achieve a Jewish majority.

        American Psycho: “Palestine is building massive illegal settlements throughout the occupied territory.”

        Fascinating, Again, in this universe Israel has been building these illegal settlements in the Palestinian territory it has been occupying for more than half a century.

  4. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    September 1, 2018, 7:06 pm

    RE: ‘If UNRWA leaves, we won’t survive’ — Refugees brace for hard times as US ends aid

    Statement by the [European Union] Spokesperson on UNRWA
    Bruxelles, 01/09/2018

    (EXCERPT) . . . This is why the EU will continue its assistance to the Palestinians, including its support to UNRWA’s activities, while we will also continue our efforts to reach a two-state solution – a solution that will include the issue of refugees, which is a final status issue that only the two parties can resolve through negotiations, with the support of the international community.

    UNRWA has recently expanded its donor base and taken internal management measures to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. UNRWA should pursue these reforms and further engage in a transformative process. The EU is committed to continue discussing these matters with UNRWA so as to secure the continuation and sustainability of the agency’s work which is vital for stability and security in the region.

    The regrettable decision of the US to no longer be part of this international and multilateral effort leaves a substantial gap and we hope that the US can reconsider their decision. . .

    ENTIRE STATEMENT – https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/49983/statement-spokesperson-unrwa_en

    Germany to Boost Funds to UNRWA Amid Reports of Cuts by U.S.
    DPA and Haaretz | Aug 31, 2018

    (EXCERT) Germany is preparing a “substantial” increase in its contributions to the cash-strapped UN agency for Palestinian refugees amid reports that the United States plans to withhold a large share of its funding, according to a letter seen by dpa. . .

    CONTINUED AT – https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/germany-to-boost-funds-to-unrwa-amid-reports-of-cuts-by-u-s-1.6433690

  5. September 3, 2018, 8:35 am

    Why don’t Russia and China help “fill the gap”?
    It is beyond acceptable that they, too, use the Pals as a chip in dealing with Israel.
    There are h umanitarian and justice lines that cannot be crossed by any nation that calls itself moral Where are the Russians, the Chinese, the Japanese? The Indians, the Pakistanis? They all have plenty of money. Call it “the Samaritan Fund.” Everyone understands that.

  6. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    September 3, 2018, 9:57 am

    It looks like the Europeans are going to plug the gap left by the Americans. 260,000 Gaza kids went back to school in the name of regional stability. The amounts involved are small in the big picture but they say a lot about the Zionist lobby. Moving funding away from their rancid influence is a positive development.

    • dionissis_mitropoulos
      dionissis_mitropoulos
      September 4, 2018, 1:26 am

      Hi Maghalawatan

      The potential development you are speaking about (namely, the Europeans replacing the US in paying for UNRWA) would be certainly verywelcome (i just heard it from you), as it would be welcome even if the devil Herself was funding it. I read that the Israeli defense establishment was totally against the cuts and that Netanyahu moved independently of them, but i didn’t research it. My guess is that, if the development you predict materializes, those cuts that were implemented at the behest of the annexationist part of US pro-Israel activism (the Adelsons) are opposed by the two-stater part of European pro-Israel activism — whose favourite politician is, i think, monsieur Macron.

      But never mind who pays and for what reason, the important thing is for the children to be at school and for the tragic situation in Gaza not become worse. So it’s good news no matter who steps in to pay.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        September 4, 2018, 9:49 am

        I think it would be wise because the amounts are very small (EG a $300 m US cut was mentioned ) compared to the chaos that would be unleashed if the recipients had nothing.

        “One should never tear down something without knowing why it was built in the first place. “GK Chesterton

        “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose,” wrote James Baldwin. “You do not need 10 such men, only one will do.”

        Netanyahu’s Israel is uglier than sin. I never hear anything positive coming from it.

      • Peter in SF
        Peter in SF
        September 5, 2018, 2:51 am

        Doctor, the video in your link is a good example of “the exception that proves the rule”, because Mark Halawa, the speaker in the video, actually succeeded in being repatriated to Israel, where he now lives. The Israeli government allowed him to do so only because he had a Jewish grandmother. He also relates a whole lot of falsehoods, such as UNRWA being set up in response to PLO pressure, when in reality it long preceded the PLO. Not surprising from Stand With Us, which is an anti-Palestinian hate group — were you unaware of what kind of organization it is?

        And speaking of “permanent welfare recipients” and UNRWA as a “failed program”, the amount of money that American taxpayers spend on aid to the state of Israel each year is 3 times UNRWA’s entire budget.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        September 20, 2018, 10:28 am

        @drhmay

        You said:

        “necessity is the mother of invention.”

        If you say so.

        You said

        “ As long as there is no necessity for Palestinians to invent a better life…”

        Please let me interrupt you: the Palestinians are actually looking for a better life. In Gaza, it is Israel that has caged them. Even the Israel Defence Force (IDF) has recognized that this needs to stop ( please see my second comment):

        https://mondoweiss.net/2018/08/defenses-columnists-protesters/

        In the West Bank Israel destroys the Palestinians’ chances for a better life in a more subtle (comparatively speaking) way: it turns Palestinian against Palestinian, as we learned from the whistleblowers of the prestigious IDF UNIT 8200, the Israeli Big Brother Intelligence Unit tasked with spying on the Palestinians:

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/12/israeli-intelligence-veterans-letter-netanyahu-military-chiefs

        “Information that is collected and stored harms innocent people. It is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself.”

        If you substitute the country that philosopher Martha Nussbaum is talking about below with the West Bank (where indeed there are Palestinian snitches everywhere ready to report other Palestinians to Israel’s guard dog in the area – the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas—then you get a picture of the atmosphere of anxiety in everyday relationships that Israel and its Palestinian guard dog are fostering in the West Bank:

        https://medium.com/s/trustissues/the-erosion-of-public-trust-calls-for-hope-not-fear-9000d1ee9197

        “Everyone knew that there were spies everywhere: teachers in school, other classmates, one’s own family members. In that situation, it was impossible to have trust, obviously, but we can see that this meant an intolerable level of anxiety and the more or less complete impossibility of civic or personal friendship. It was like a bad, cheating marriage writ large. Everyone was anxious all the time, and it was not possible to think, “This is my friend,” or “This is the government that is committed to protecting our welfare.”Even in a dysfunctional democracy with many bad policies, things aren’t like that: if people don’t like the policies that prevail, they can work to change them, and often what is lacking at a national level is present in the local community.”

        Here is how Israel, through Unit 8200, spreads this lack of trust among Palestinians in the West Bank:

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/12/israeli-intelligence-unit-testimonies

        “Any Palestinian is exposed to non-stop monitoring by the Israeli Big Brother, without legal protection, and with no way of knowing when they too would become an objective – targeted for harassment, extortion, or physical injury.

        If anyone interests us [the Unit 8200], we’d collect information on his or her economic situation and mental state. Then we would plan how we can perform an operation around this individual, in order to turn them into a collaborator or something of the sort.

        We knew the detailed medical conditions of some of our targets, and our goals developed around them. I’m not sure what was done with this information. I felt bad knowing each of their precise problems, and that we would talk and laugh about this information freely. Or, for instance, that we knew exactly who was cheating on their wife, with whom, and how often.

        I also collected information on people who were completely innocent, and whose only crime was that they interested the Israeli security system for various reasons. For reasons they had absolutely no way of knowing. All Palestinians are exposed to non-stop monitoring without any legal protection. Junior soldiers can decide when someone is a target for the collection of information. There is no procedure in place to determine whether the violation of the individual’s rights is necessarily justifiable. The notion of rights for Palestinians does not exist at all. Not even as an idea to be disregarded.”

        This is something that significantly erodes the trust of one Palestinian in another, the Palestinians don’t know which one of their compatriots is a collaborator who in turn spies on them, after having been spied upon and blackmailed by Unit 8200. This is something that destroys the well being of Palestinian society.

        You said

        “being permanent welfare recipients and fed lies by their [Palestinian] theiving thriving leaders nothing will change.”

        The Palestinian leader, Abbas, is indeed thieving and thriving. But are you sure that you (supporters of Israel) have the standing to blame the Palestinians for a leader that you have imposed on the Palestinians at the gunpoint of sanctions? When the Palestinians voted for the leaders they wanted (Hamas), the international community at the behest of Israel boycotted them, and told them in effect: “you can choose democratically your leader only if your Israeli overlords approve of your choice. Otherwise we will turn a blind eye while Israel starves you, like it is still doing right now in 2018 to two million Gazans”:

        http://fathomjournal.org/israel70-just-dont-do-it-the-ramifications-of-a-termination-of-the-oslo-accords/

        “after Hamas won the parliamentary elections in 2006, all direct aid from the Quartet (EU, UN, US, and Russia) was suspended. The funds to pay approximately 160,000 PA employees and their families was in turn suspended (by the PA) along with funds for basic services such as schools and hospitals. This crucial aid was only resumed by circumventing the Hamas-led administration and channeling the aid directly to Abbas.”

        The West, at the behest of Israel, reserved its financial blandishments for Abbas and the West Bank. That’s Abbas’ role in the eyes of the Palestinians, to be the money-raiser, the West’s Palestinian paid fixer and enforcer of the occupation so that Israel doesn’t drench in hands in blood too often — there are some sensitive souls among informed supporters of Israel who prefer the dirty and bloody work to be done by Abbas, lest they be accused of insensitivity by critics of Israel (i am serious, that’s their conception of sensitivity that their demeanor implies, a mere sensitivity to criticism, nothing more do they require of themselves) :

        https://www.timesofisrael.com/the-nonexistent-rise-and-tragic-plateau-of-pa-president-mahmoud-abbas/

        “Abbas’s role in the Palestinian movement has always been as a bureaucrat and a money raiser. Unlike Arafat, Abbas was never seen as a revolutionary rabble rouser.”

        The West has armed and trained a group of gunmen, the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, that protects Abbas and makes sure that there will be neither armed resistance nor unarmed protests against Israel:

        http://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/a-potentially-combustible-timeline/

        “Coordination with PA security forces will also be critical over this period of time: Not only can these forces help stem the tide of terror, most importantly they can prevent mass events with the potential to spark a conflagration.”

        By now, this Western imposed and paid gang of Palestinian gunmen has acquired political power in the West Bank:

        https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/evolution-of-the-palestinian-authority-security-forces

        “The Palestinian political system is becoming more authoritarian, and the security forces have morphed into a tool at the president’s disposal. When the time comes to replace him, the PASF [Palestinian Authority Security Forces] will have several options, such as staying in the barracks and supporting the political process or becoming contenders themselves by fulfilling their own ambitions. Most likely, though, they will become kingmakers by supporting certain candidates.”

        Nathan Thrall, the best analyst of the Israel/Palestine conflict that I have encountered, sums up the situation that Israel has created: the US will be supporting the dictators of countries that are Israel’s neighbours and are supportive of the Israeli occupation, and it will be paying the Palestinian Authority gunmen to protect Israel, and if the Muslim world goes berserk against the US due to this oppression of Palestinians by Israel that the US is enabling, why should Israel care? A must-read article by Nathan Thrall:

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/opinion/sunday/the-past-50-years-of-israeli-occupation-and-the-next.html

        “The United States spent tens of billions of dollars backing pro-Israel regimes ruling over anti-Israel populations in Egypt and Jordan, and provided billions more to the Palestinian Authority on condition that it continue preventing attacks and protests against Israeli settlements. And those expenditures do not reckon the cost to American security interests of Arab and Muslim resentment toward the United States for enabling and bankrolling the oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.”

        And now you, a supporter of Israel, have the gall to blame the Palestinians for their leader Abbas which Israel itself imposed on Palestine?

        A relevant comment of mine about the West’s and Israel’s stifling of democracy in Palestine is here (my first comment in the threads):

        https://mondoweiss.net/2018/08/country-protecting-borders/

        Finally you said:

        “For a Palestinian view of the UN’s failed program see the following:”

        For an inkling of what you (Israelis and supporters of Israel) have sowed in the West Bank, reread Martha Nussbaum:

        https://medium.com/s/trustissues/the-erosion-of-public-trust-calls-for-hope-not-fear-9000d1ee9197

        “Everyone knew that there were spies everywhere: teachers in school, other classmates, one’s own family members. In that situation, it was impossible to have trust, obviously, but we can see that this meant an intolerable level of anxiety and the more or less complete impossibility of civic or personal friendship. It was like a bad, cheating marriage writ large. Everyone was anxious all the time, and it was not possible to think, “This is my friend,” or “This is the government that is committed to protecting our welfare.”Even in a dysfunctional democracy with many bad policies, things aren’t like that: if people don’t like the policies that prevail, they can work to change them, and often what is lacking at a national level is present in the local community.”

  7. mondonut
    mondonut
    September 4, 2018, 11:36 am

    @dionissis_mitropoulos Surely, you must have heard somewhere that Hamas had offered to Abbas civil control of Gaza.

    Having civil control of Gaza is not “ruling Gaza”, that is nonsense. Gaza is ruled by whomever has the guns and the money – which would remain under the control of Hamas.

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      September 5, 2018, 3:13 am

      Gaza is ruled by Israel. Who controls the calories is in charge. Israel controls life and death in Gaza

    • dionissis_mitropoulos
      dionissis_mitropoulos
      September 20, 2018, 3:46 pm

      @mondonut

      Here is the comment of mine to which you mondonut are responding. I had said:

      “Surely, you [commenter mondonut] must have heard somewhere that Hamas had offered to Abbas civil control of Gaza.”

      And now mondonut you say in response to me:

      “Having civil control of Gaza is not “ruling Gaza”, that is nonsense. Gaza is ruled by whomever has the guns and the money – which would remain under the control of Hamas.”

      The only sort of rule and of control that was relevant to the concerns that you yourself had expressed was civil control, because that is the only control that is relevant for the foreign investment that you were concerned with. Here is what you had said before I responded to you:

      “the Hamas terrorist group controls Gaza and as such eliminates significant foreign investment.”

      And I responded to you that, given that Hamas offered civil control of Gaza to Palestinian President Abbas, the responsible party for the lack of foreign investment is Abbas who does not accept this Hamas offer. It so happens that this is the view of the Israeli defense establishment (what you refer to as “foreign investment” should be relabeled as “Gaza rehabilitation projects”, if you want to keep up with the terminology used in Israeli English-speaking media). I quote the CAMERA approved Haaretz journalist Amos Harel, who also happens to be the voice of the defense establishment in Haaretz:

      https://www.haaretz.com/…/.premium-abbas-is-key-obstacle-to…

      “Abbas Is Key Obstacle to Gaza Rehabilitation, Top Israeli Security Brass Warns.
      Israeli leadership has been showing willingness to promote aid projects for the Strip. But Abbas, who is busy shaping a legacy ahead of retirement, is ignoring signals from Israel, the U.S. and the UN”

      Your point is that she who controls the money and the guns is the one who has the kind of control that is relevant to our concerns (namely, the Gaza rehabilitation projects), I repost how you put it:

      “Having civil control of Gaza is not “ruling Gaza”, that is nonsense. Gaza is ruled by whomever has the guns and the money

      Now, I will leave aside the point about money, because you are under a confusion here: whoever has civil control necessarily controls the money, this is a conceptual point. If Hamas was not handing to Abbas the money collection from taxes, then we wouldn’t have been talking about Hamas’ having offered civil control of Gaza to Abbas. Yet, this is precisely what Hamas did, it offered to Abbas the tax collection. So Hamas wouldn’t be “controlling the money” under its offer of civil control to Abbas.

      Coming now to your point that whoever controls the guns is the one that exercises the control that is relevant to your expressed concerns (namely, the foreign investments, i.e. the Gaza rehabilitation projects), your claim is in direct opposition to the expressed views of both the Israeli defense establishment and of the diaspora’s pro-Israel activism establishment (if the latter is represented by WINEP, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as everybody says). I will quote 3 Generals of significant status who are all telling us that the Gaza rehabilitation should proceed no matter if Hamas stays in control of its weapons and forces. These 3 Generals put the lie to your expressed view that civil control is not enough for foreign investments/Gaza rehabilitation to proceed. For these Generals, who represent the Israeli and diaspora establishment, civil control by Abbas is all that is required for the Gaza rehabilitation to proceed – because they want Abbas to be the one who will be allocating the foreign money to the Palestinians, for fear that if Hamas performs this function too its popularity will rise to incredibly, given that she who hands the foreign money to the Palestinian businesses and workers will be revered. But let me post the links to the sayings of the Generals.

      Here is is ex General Michel Herzog at the most influential pro-Israel American think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) declaring that disarming Hamas is an impractical goal that should be shunned, and that rehabilitation of Gaza should proceed anyway, contra Abbas (July 2018):

      https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/…/neutralizing-the-gaza…

      “But sustained de-escalation [between Israel and Hamas] cannot succeed without effectively dealing with Gaza’s humanitarian and economic crises…

      For as long as Hamas remains the responsible address, international actors can and should seek to tame its malign, destabilizing activities, but they must recognize that such moves are unlikely to change the group’s fundamental character or force its disarmament. Israel’s traditional formula for Gaza, which called for “rehabilitation in exchange for demilitarization,” sets the latter as the ultimate objective, yet cannot serve as a practical platform for a rehabilitation process.”

      Same point of view from General Udi Dekel, Managing Director of Israel’s leading think tank on security matters, INSS, which has close ties to the IDF. He expresses the view that it is unrealistic to expect Hamas to disarm, and that the reconstruction of Gaza should proceed independently of such an unrealistic demand, no matter what Abbas says:

      http://www.inss.org.il/…/strategic-overview-reconstruction…/

      “Israel will need to give up its demand for immediate disarmament [of Hamas] as a condition for beginning the reconstruction project for two reasons. The first is recognition of the slim prospects of persuading Hamas to relinquish its military apparatus, which for Hamas constitutes protection against Israeli attempts to strip it of power. The second is the set of difficulties that can be expected in establishing an effective international mechanism for stripping Hamas of the capabilities that are a threat to Israel. The reconstruction of the Gaza Strip will require immense resources that can only be acquired through long term international commitment”

      And here is General Yoav Poli Mordechai, ex IDF spokesperson and ex COGAT Chief, once again at the INSS, expressing the need for Gaza rehabilitation while implying that no disarmament demand should be made of Hamas, because such demands would obviously make Hamas oppose the rehabilitation deal, and the General insists that no stipulations should be made that might make the interested parties (and hence Hamas) oppose the proposed rehabilitation deal:

      http://www.inss.org.il/…/next-gaza-gaza-strip-dead-end-gl…/…

      “Thus despite the strategic and political complexities involved in future development, a process should be designed in the form of a “Marshall Plan” for the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, such a process should incorporate security and economic arrangements and solutions for additional issues on the agenda, …

      it is imperative to create an equation whereby it would not be advantageous for any of the
      parties involved to oppose the process, and would be expedient for them to welcome it with open arms.”

      I will stop here, though I could be posting relevant links from Israeli and US diaspora establishment figures till tomorrow.

      So the civil control that Hamas offered to Abbas is more than enough for the Gaza rehabilitation to proceed. Israel (and the international community) do not mind if Hamas keeps its guns — though of course they would prefer that Hamas would cede its weapons. Therefore the fault for the lack of Gaza rehabilitation projects lies with Abbas, who is not accepting Hamas’ offer of civil control, and not with Hamas.

      Mondonut, how do you feel now that you called “nonsense” my claim about the importance of Hamas’ having shed civil control to Abbas? Now that the whole pro-Israel establishment (diaspora and Israeli) are corroborating my point, is there any chance that you might reconsider the appropriateness of your usual throwing around rude remarks about your interlocutors’ persons or views? If you had a disagreement with my view, as you did, you could have just said “I disagree with your view dionisis”, why call my views “nonsense”? Do you know how many people there are out there who do not enter discussions on Israel-Palestine just so as not to have to endure rude remarks like yours? Unless of course that’s the whole point of online pro-Israel advocacy, to bully people out of discussions.

  8. lonely rico
    lonely rico
    September 6, 2018, 10:37 am

    > mon donut

    … allow the Palestinians to wallow while they wait on the American people to demand that Israel be removed.

    I think, donut, that Israelis who receive 3.8 billion (+/-) a year from the American people, should be careful about evoking the image of wallowing in a sink of unmerited pelf.

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