A few weeks ago, as it was raining, I went to a neighbor’s small minyan in their home on Shabbat. I was delighted to see that among those attending was Hillel Neuer. I’d been on conference panels with Hillel in the past, and we’d done some work with University students. We’d exchanged emails, (and he’s a fellow Canadian), but I hadn’t seen him in person in almost two decades. I’ve been an ardent follower of Hillel’s work at UN Watch, and an advocate for his approach to critique and analysis of the UN and its agencies, so it was great to see him. I was glad he could spend a bit of time with family.

Well, Hillel won’t be having much down time these days. His years of meticulous work, despite being maligned from nearly every UN and international podium, were finally taken up by those who needed to hear. Hillel’s documentation of the affiliations, associations, hate speech, and terrorist activities of UNRWA employees; of the Telegram list where over 3,000 UNRWA employees cheered and praised the October 7 attacks; of the indoctrination of Gazan schoolchildren in antisemitic materials in UNRWA schools; of the use of UNRWA resources by terrorists, and the willful silence of every level of UNRWA and UN bureaucracy when these facts were made public, are a mountain of evidence of the UN and UNRWA’s perfidy. Hillel was one of the most sought after interviews in the world this week.

UN Watch’s work, coupled with the revelation from Israel that at least 12 UNRWA employees directly participated in the October 7 attack, have influenced almost 20 governments around the world to pause or withdraw over $700,000,000 in funding from UNRWA, and finally cast its continued existence into question.

In the days following, revelations continued. According to reports, 1,200 UNRWA employees out of 13,000 were also paid fighters, activists, and employees of Hamas. 6,000 UNRWA employees had close family ties to Hamas members. And this is the organization cited by the malign International Court of Justice in its initial decisions I discussed last week.

You may read this and ask - I get that UNRWA has got to be investigated and even purged of its terror affiliations, but why should it cease to exist? Doesn’t it serve an important purpose?

There’s much to learn about UNRWA, but I’ll try to distill it down to a few important points.

  1. UNRWA was created at the end of 1949, when there were about 700,000 Arab refugees at the end of Israel’s War of Independence. As many historians have demonstrated, that number is a combination of those who fled at the behest of their Arab leaders and allies in the hope of swift return after Israel’s defeat; those who were pushed out - from highly encouraged to actively evicted - in a number of strategic choke points by Israeli advances; and those who had left even before hostilities commenced.
  2. At around the same time, in the post WWII world, there were about 40,000,000 total refugees, among them both these Arabs and the surviving Jews of Europe.
  3. As the United Nations was forged, its High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) was formed, with the express goal of care for and resettlement of refugees and the beginning of a better life for them in host countries around the world. UNHCR refugee status was non transferable, and its entire purpose was to provide the conditions for refugees to achieve citizenship and a new life.
  4. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) gave Arab Palestinian refugees an entirely different status. In almost every country (with the exception of Jordan), these refugees were not offered citizenship, employment, or any other elements of a new, safer environment. Their status as refugees was conferred on every succeeding generation, regardless of any other eventual achieved citizenship, residence, or employment. There are now 5.9 million UNRWA recognized refugees. The goal of UNRWA was leveraged to perpetuate the conflict, to undermine Israel’s UN designated legitimacy, to maintain an aggrieved, and growing source of activism, terror, and open warfare against Israel.
  5. UNRWA has been investigated for decades on its teaching of hate and incitement, terror links, and use of its facilities to attack Israel both within and beyond Gaza.
  6. Its purpose, even before its association with terrorist organizations like Hamas, has been to perpetuate the problem.

Just yesterday, United Nations spokesperson Christian Lindmeier indicated that other UN agencies like WHO and UNOCHA could, if needed, fill the gap of caring for and feeding displaced Gazans if UNRWA could no longer operate.

For the sake of peace and safety for Israelis and Palestinians alike, in my opinion, it’s time to defund and disband UNRWA, and replace it with an organization that will help Palestinians without teaching hate, employing terrorists or serving to perpetuate a status that its counterpart UNHCR does the exact opposite to conclude.

On Wednesday I met with Congressman Lawler in Washington, and later, in remarks to our entire group of 400 community leaders from across the country he stated firmly that he was of the same opinion. Representatives and Senators from both sides of the aisle made similar observations.

If you also agree that UNRWA does more harm than good, you can reach out to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Lawler. Make your voice heard!