Defending Our Future. Protecting Our Past.
Defending Our Future. Protecting Our Past.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2024
The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) rejected UNRWA Chief, Philippe Lazzarini's contention that "UNRWA did not know what was under its headquarters in Gaza".
In a statement, AGPI said: "given the sophistication of the tunnel under UNRWA headquarters in Gaza and the sophisticated Hamas data center, it is impossible your organization "did not know". Israel estimates it took 5 years to construct the bunker under UNRWA headquarters.
AGPI is calling for the resignation of UNRWA Chief Philippe Lazzarini.
The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) extends its appreciation to the European Union for its decisive action in suspending funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This suspension follows serious allegations implicating UNRWA staff in the October 7th, 2023, massacre of Israelis.
In a recent statement, the European Union emphasized its role as one of the largest donors of humanitarian and development aid to Palestinians in Gaza. The EU declared that no additional funding to UNRWA is anticipated until the end of February.
AGPI particularly commends the EU's commitment to an impartial investigation, distinct from one conducted by the UN agency. AGPI expects UNRWA to cooperate in conducting an audit led by EU-appointed independent external experts. This audit will focus on the pillar assessment, specifically examining control systems to prevent potential involvement of UNRWA staff in terrorist activities.
AGPI also calls for the reinforcement of UNRWA's Department of Internal Investigations (DIOS), recognizing its pivotal role in this context. Additionally, a comprehensive review of all UNRWA staff is urged promptly to verify their non-participation in the attacks.
AGPI continues to call for the overall dismantling of UNRWA, replacing it with independent aid organizations that will work to absorb Palestinians refugees and provide appropriate education non-aligned with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
In response to these developments, AGPI has launched a new web portal titled "Eye on the UN," featuring reports and assessments related to the United Nations.
Beyond the European Union, 16 nations have also taken the commendable step of suspending UNRWA funding. These countries include Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Italy, Iceland, Japan, and Estonia.
AGPI is a prominent Canadian NGO that remains committed to promoting peace and justice, advocating for transparency, and supporting initiatives that uphold the principles of humanitarian aid and human rights.
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December 1, 2023 in the National Post
The lies, denials and innuendos about Israel distributed by United Nations and its affiliated agencies have long been outrageous. But this week, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reached a new low that illustrates its veracious appetite to take advantage of the war by spreading lies to raise money.
Yesterday, I received an email from Marta Malaspina, a member of UNRWA’s so-called Digital Fundraising Team. I could not believe that she wrote that the “ongoing war in Gaza comes after 75 years of continuous displacement and dispossession.” Nice wordsmithing, if only it were honest.
In reaction, I sent her the following note: “Hi Marta, I am baffled how someone seemingly educated like you can spread lies to raise a few dollars. I just received your email saying that 'the ongoing war in Gaza comes after 75 years of continuous displacement and dispossession.' No, Ms. Malaspina, it comes after the Hamas attack of October 7th in which Palestinians murdered 1,200 Jews in cold blood. Why can’t you be honest?"
Obviously, I continued, “We will expose these lies and encourage our own government in Canada to stop funding UNRWA because it’s not truthful. Your note again proves it in writing. So, your fundraising email, because it shows the true colours of UNRWA, will bring about the defunding of UNRWA.”
This is already happening. This week, after spending nearly $1 billion on UNRWA over the last five years, Germany announced it is freezing all funding.
“UNRWA is not making a contribution to a peaceful solution,” Max Lucks of Germany's Greens said. “Not a single cent from Germany should reach teachers who glorify the terror of Hamas.”
Similarly, the European Union has moved to withhold 39 million euros (C$58 million) from Palestinian groups, including from UNRWA. These NGOs are often accused of inciting hatred against Israel. The EU and other funders have demanded UNRWA and other agencies enforce contracts that require their schools and programs to be monitored. However, none of this has proven effective.
“The problem is that Israel actually needs UNRWA,” one highly-placed official in the organization told me in confidence WHEN WAS THIS?. UNRWA seems to believe serving Israel and the Palestinians themselves. They have our government convinced to the tune of $100 million in funding plus some additional emergency money.
I told the official that several years ago that my organization, the Abraham Global Peace Initiative, did try to reach out to UNRWA in the hope of finding a way to work together. But since that time, I expressed, “I can see now that UNRWA unfortunately, is holding the Palestinians themselves hostage.”
I explained to the UNRWA official that the organization itself, and its staff, unfortunately is spreading lies, and that this week’s fundraising letter is yet another example. UNRWA “is the only refugee organization in the world for one specific group (the Palestinians). Unlike other societies that promote co-existence and assimilation of refugees, UNRWA has not promoted integration into the societies in which Palestinians have moved." For some examples, see Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
That means, I explained to the official, that UNRWA is the problem to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Therefore, there needs to be a completely new system that is organized to aid the Palestinians and provide humanitarian relief, but with an objective of developing a sustainable society.
A new internationally funded entity needs to push for growing cooperation instead of isolation and absorption of refugees into their current places of residence. Holding Palestinians prisoners in this false narrative that one day they might “return” is counterproductive. It builds anger and frustration and limits the vision for a bright future.
Additionally, UNRWA schools have been teaching anti-Israel and antisemitic materials while turning a blind eye when their schools become rocket bunkers for Hamas. The result is a vicious society that committed heinous crimes against innocent Israelis on Oct. 7. We need to hold UNRWA and its funders accountable for the crimes committed against the innocent Jews and foreigners who were murdered and kidnapped on that day.
Malaspina and her fundraising team at UNRWA had the audacity of disregarding the barbarism that took place on that black day. She called for “solidarity” with the Palestinians but not with the Jewish women who were raped and the Jewish children who were mutilated by the very people her agency supports.
This level of denial and distortion needs to be called out. Given these blatant facts, UNRWA must be removed from Gaza alongside Hamas. A new non-permanent humanitarian relief program must be created to build a new society that can co-exist peacefully with Israel. Anything else will be detrimental to both Palestinians and Israelis living in the region.
Oct 27, 2023
In 1996, Daniel Goldhagen published a seminal book that changed the Holocaust narrative. In “Hitler’s Willing Executioners,” Goldhagen showed that the vast majority of the German public supported Hitler’s determined effort to commit genocide against the Jewish people because they were motivated by a unique and virulent form of “eliminationist antisemitism” that had been ingrained in German identity for centuries.
Antisemitism, in other words, empowered ordinary people to believe that Jews deserved to be eliminated from the face of the earth.
The view that 1,400 Israelis deserved to be murdered by Hamas is not dissimilar. Having been indoctrinated with large doses of antisemitism since childhood, Hamas terrorists brutally murdered Jewish men and women, babies and children, the infirm and the elderly. Their barbarism mirrored the heinous genocidal crimes committed by the Nazis.
Despite these crimes, the Jewish people have been re-victimized by those who have attempted to justify this mass murder. In ancient times, pogroms and crusades against Jews blamed the Jews themselves. After all, we were supposedly responsible for things like deicide, the black plague and a global conspiracy to control the world. We deserved all the pain and suffering that befell us. That’s antisemitism.
In light of this history, it was disturbing to hear United Nations Secretary General António Guterres tell the world in front of the Security Council this week that Jews were essentially responsible for Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre. “It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum,” he declared.
Caught red-handed, the following day, Guterres refused to apologize, instead saying, “I am shocked by misrepresentations by some of my statement yesterday in the Security Council — as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas.” Yet that is exactly what he appeared to be doing, given that, in the same breath, he said that, “The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.”
This is equivalent to telling the Rwandan Tutsis that they were responsible for their own murders. It’s like telling the girls that Boko Haram kidnapped and raped that it was their fault. It’s akin to telling Ukrainians that they invited the Russian slaughter.
Guterres is not antisemitic. He has denounced antisemitism vigorously in the past. Yet somehow, perhaps because of the prevailing bias against Israel at the UN, he adopted the rhetoric espoused by Hamas apologists, blaming Israel for the massacre inflicted on its citizens.
His comments seemed out of character to me, given his past support for the Jewish people, but it demonstrates how easy it is to succumb to the concerted PR campaign Hamas supporters launched even before the bodies of the dead Israelis had grown cold.
Guterres would have appeared like a statesman had he used the opportunity to scold the Palestinians for not accepting the UN’s 1947 partition plan and for consistently scuttling opportunities for peace. He could have held the Palestinians accountable for creating and supporting Hamas. He could have castigated them for decades of incessant terrorist attacks against Israelis and relentless incitement against Jews.
Guterres could have used the moment to critique the UN for maintaining the status quo by ensuring Palestinians remain as perpetual refugees. He could have criticized the antisemitic indoctrination of Palestinian students in UN-run schools.
After being blamed by the United Nations for the murder of innocents, Israel has rightly stopped issuing visas to UN officials and called for Guterres’s resignation. Like the instantaneous false blame Israel received over the bombing of the hospital in Gaza, it’s too late to walk this back. This kind of sentiment seeps into the public consciousness immediately and invites antisemitism and more incitement against Israel.
Words are weapons and they are used today, as they were used by the Nazis and those who came before them, to invite hate against the Jewish people. This must stop.
June 30, 2023
Canada has reaffirmed its complicity in the murder of Israelis by renewing its aid to the Palestinians through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to the tune of $100 million over the next four years, in addition to an immediate $3 million in so-called emergency aid.
This, despite the fact that in May, Barbara Leaf, United States assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, confirmed that the Palestinian Authority continues to make so-called pay-for-slay payments to terrorists who have killed Israelis.
Payments are made to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, the families of “martyrs” killed in attacks against Israelis and to injured Palestinian terrorists. They are higher than average Palestinian wages, which further drives terrorism given that the unemployment rate hovers around 25 per cent in the West Bank.
Just last week, two Palestinian terrorists drove to a gas station and murdered Elisha Anteman, 17, Ofer Fayerman, 64, Harel Masood, 21, and Nachman Mordoff, 17. But our government, sadly, has turned a blind eye to ongoing Palestinian terrorism. Instead of punishing the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for their continued incitement and terror-incentive programs, we continue to reward this behaviour by funnelling them money.
According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the PA spends around $300 million annually on its pay-for-slay program, or 10 per cent of its entire budget. It is only able to afford this due to international assistance coming through UNRWA, which subsidizes the cost of basic government services like health care, education and other social services.
Canada is thus helping finance terrorism against Israelis. Just because donor countries are going through a third party under the United Nations mandate does not mean their hands are clean — they are not.
Canada continues to use the now stale disclaimer that it "will remain closely engaged with UNRWA and continue to exercises enhanced due diligence for all humanitarian and development assistance funding for Palestinians. This work includes ongoing oversight, regular site visits, a systematic screening process and strong anti-terrorism provisions in funding agreements.”
But UNRWA's history shows that international oversight has never been enough. In 2014, a stockpile of Hamas rockets were found in one of its schools in Gaza. In 2021, UN Watch accused the agency’s staff of promoting antisemitism on social media.
To make matters worse, multiple reports have been published by various groups indicating that UNRWA-funded school textbooks contain antisemitic content that incites students to hate Israel. When I met with UNRWA officials, who are based in east Jerusalem, they admitted this was an ongoing problem but suggested nothing could be done about it.
By supporting UNRWA, Canada is financing the perpetual Palestinian refugee claims against Israel. In its own press release, the Canadian government noted that UNRWA also operates in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. With the assistance of UNRWA and its backers, these host countries have kept their minority Palestinian populations in a holding pattern, incentivizing them to dream about dislodging the Jews from the Jewish homeland.
Global Affairs' press release states that, “In Syria, 91 per cent of Palestinian refugee households live in absolute poverty. In Lebanon, more than 89 per cent of Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria are in critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance.” But what our government fails to explain is why this is the case.
Palestinians have been relegated to third-class status in Lebanon, Syria and even Jordan. They are restricted from advancement and not granted the same rights as ordinary citizens. By not advocating for their integration into these societies and instead funding an organization that ensures they remain perpetual refugees, we are complicit in this humanitarian crisis.
I know this article will fall on deaf ears in Ottawa. But it is important that Canadian taxpayers know how their money is being spent overseas. As a country, we need to ask ourselves if it is worth having blood on our hands.
Avi Benlolo is the founder and chairman of the Abraham Global Peace Initiative.
The UN appears to insist on keeping Israel’s very existence in question and disrupting peace-building efforts by ensuring Palestinians remain as refugees
Published Feb 10, 2023
The United Nations “special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories,” Francesca Albanese, told an English-language Middle East news site that the European Union erred by adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
Apparently, she wants UN leaders to be able to scrutinize Israel without any guidance about when such criticism veers into hate. “No one should be above scrutiny,” she said. Good, because on the heels of my expose last week on how the West is aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism, the UN should not be above scrutiny, either.
Despite the work being done to promote peaceful solutions in the Middle East through the Abraham Accords, the UN appears to insist on keeping Israel’s very existence in question and disrupting peace-building efforts by ensuring Palestinians remain as permanent refugees.
The UN’s planners must have been absent from school the day the teacher repeated the old adage that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Instead, the UN established the only permanent refugee organization in the world, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Millions of refugees poured out of Syria following President Bashar Assad’s gassing and murder of nearly 500,000 civilians, but no dedicated UN agency was founded for them. Instead, they were quickly assimilated into countries like Germany and Canada. There are no international campaigns or significant Syrian refugee movements on university campuses calling for their return, because most have acclimatized to their new homes — as refugees generally do.
A number of permanent exhibits line the wall near the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. Of all the refugees past and present, the Palestinians are the only ones who have their own permanent exhibit, under the heading, “The Question of Palestine and the United Nations.”
The exhibit states, “The question of Palestine has been on the United Nations agenda since the organization’s earliest days.” The Arabs rejected the establishment of the Jewish state following the UN’s positive vote on the “partition plan,” which called for two states living side-by-side in peace.
In 1948, the Arab world went to war against the newly founded State of Israel. Many Arab-Palestinians either fought Israel or fled to neighbouring countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Syria), hoping to return when the Jews were pushed into the sea. That did not happen.
Instead of absorbing the refugees into their host countries, UNRWA deliberately kept them in so-called refugee camps. They were (and still are) used as pawns by both their host countries and the UN itself to leverage a “final status agreement” with Israel.
From a human rights point of view, that is completely unfair to the millions of children who have had their futures stolen from them by the UN. Their host countries continue to refuse to allow them citizenship or to integrate them into civil society.
For its part, instead of down-scaling operations, UNRWA has grown into a bureaucratic behemoth that employs 30,000 people and has an annual budget of around US$1.5 billion (C$2 billion). By keeping Palestinians trapped and needy as refugees, the agency reinforces their false hope that they may one day return to a country that never existed in the first place.
Everyone deserves to be free in their own land. But the truth should always be the truth. Before 1948, the area was ruled by the British for a short time and by the Ottomans for 400 years before that. There was never a state of Palestine. This generation of Palestinians wants to lay claim to Jerusalem, but the holy city was never Palestinian. Still, Israel has recognized the right to Palestinian self-determination since its inception — but despite the fact that Jews are indigenous to the land, Palestinians refuse to share, even at their own peril.
Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, countless peace overtures have been made. The Palestinian leadership rejected them all — carrying forward the false narrative that one day, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Now, it appears as though peace and a two-state solution are more elusive than ever. Both sides have entrenched their positions. More violence is inevitable. The way back to peace is for the UN and its agencies like UNRWA to stop deceiving the Palestinian people by suggesting that Israel is a temporary political entity. It’s not going anywhere.