The letter from Chris McGrath, (“Disrespectful to Humanitarian Work,” WJW, Oct. 23) serves as a reminder of the failure of the U.N. to resolve a festering issue. A population exchange followed the 1948 Israel War of Independence, with 800,000 Jews fleeing Arab countries and some 400,000 Arabs fleeing the nascent state of Israel. Most Jews were settled in Israel.
The U.N. set up UNRWA in 1949 to provide temporary humanitarian and economic aid to fleeing Arabs, settling them into camps in surrounding Arab states. Unfortunately, these states have used the plight of these refugees as a weapon against Israel, refusing to accept their incorporation into their own states, the exception being Jordan.
UNRWA has received nearly $30 BILLION since inception, 25 percent from America alone. Its staff is approximately 95 percent Palestinian. McGrath chastises Israel for attacks on Gaza’s UNRWA facilities but fails to admit that these were used by Hamas to store rockets, as sites for missile launches and as entrances to the infamous tunnels. And yes, in war, there might be action not warranted, but it should have been UNRWA’s responsibility to assure that their facilities were never used by Hamas to wage war against Israel. If Hamas continued to misuse these facilities, the non-Palestinian U.N. employees had a responsibility to appeal to the U.N. for relief instead of letting Israel be unjustifiably accused of killing civilians.
Instead of criticizing the original article, Mr. McGrath should re-evaluate UNRWA’s role in perpetuating the sordid treatment of Palestinians. Why is UNRWA still operating in Gaza given that it is under the control of Palestinians? Why not lead a U.N. discussion on rehabilitating Palestinians into surrounding Arab land from whence came the majority of their families in the 1930s? Why isn’t UNRWA taking a leading role in assisting in this rehabilitation as a way of resolving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, assuring a brighter future for these people and phasing itself out of existence?
WARREN A. MANISON