Regarding “Palestinians fear UNRWA will take first steps to end refugee services” (April 25): During the 1948/49 Arab-Israeli war, 700,000 Arabs became refugees. Transjordan occupied Judea and Samaria. Egypt held Gaza.
Those under Jordanian control were offered citizenship, refugee status or could be left on their own. Those who chose refugee status were cared for by UNRWA. This was meant to be a temporary situation until they could be permanently settled. UNRWA spread to include all Arab refugees.
UNRWA has been a massive fraud. Perhaps 16,000 of the original refugees are still held in camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and PA and Hamas-controlled areas. The UN decided to classify all their descendants as refugees as well, a status never conferred on others. The UN-created refugees now number 5.6 million, cared for by 30,000 well-paid UNRWA employees.
The UN took no interest in the one million Jews forced out of Arab lands. Jewish refugees who fled to Israel were cared for and integrated into society. The UN contributed nothing toward their support.
The United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League should hang their heads in shame. They created a Nakba. They trapped generation after generation of Arabs in squalid refugee camps. And, for what purpose? To attack Israel? To promote antisemitism?
The cause of the Arab refugees must be addressed and they must be set free. UNRWA must be shut down. UNHRC (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) should be tasked with ending this hypocrisy.
In a positive development, 67 UNRWA donor countries will gather in Brussels next month. UNRWA donors, working together, can perform a constructive role in providing the best possible services to the Palestinian self-styled refugee population.
Since this international donor conference plans to deal with all UNRWA policies, we would like to know if these nations have the following six UNRWA policy questions on the table: Will donors insist that the UNRWA curriculum, which incorporates principles of jihad, martyrdom and “right of return” by force of arms, be canceled in UN schools, which are supposed to advance the UNRWA slogan of “Peace starts here?”
Will donors insist that paramilitary training cease in all UNRWA schools, which should demonstrate commitment to UN principles for “peace education?”
Will donors insist that UNRWA dismiss employees who are affiliated with Hamas, in accordance with laws in western nations, which forbid aid to any agency that employs members of a terrorist organization?
Will donors insist that UNRWA cancel its contract with “youth ambassador” Mohammad Assaf, who travels the world encouraging violence? Would this not be the appropriate time for donor nations to ask that UNRWA cancel that contract with a harbinger of war?
Will donors insist on an audit of donor funds that flow to UNRWA? This demand would address widespread documented reports of wasted resources, duplication of services and the undesired flow of cash to Gaza-based terror groups, which gained control over UNRWA operations in Gaza over the past 18 years.
Will donors insist that UNRWA introduce UNHCR standards in order to advance the resettlement of Arab “refugees,” after more than 70 years? Current UNRWA policy is that “refugee” resettlement would interfere with the so-called right of return to Arab villages that existed before 1948, a euphemism for overrunning Israel.
Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research, Jerusalem
With regard to the Susan Hattis Rolef article “Another round of elections” in her “Think about it” column (April 25): Because of her vitriolic hatred of one of the best prime ministers Israel has ever had, she has built her thesis partly on a faulty foundation. She states that “in addition to using an iron fist in reaction to Palestinian acts of terror, one must also take into consideration the fact that the five million Palestinians who live under direct or indirect Israeli occupation are becoming increasingly hopeless and despondent, and that it is in Israel’s interest to try to reverse this trend.”
She dumps on Israel the need to try and reverse the trend. The fact is, under international law, as detailed in the Mandate for Palestine, all the land west of the River Jordan belongs to the Jewish people and was illegally occupied by the Palestinians of the Kingdom of Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Jordan subsequently gave up all title to that land they called the ‘West Bank.’
This means all the Palestinian Arabs living there now have two choices, either to remain under Israeli jurisdiction or go to Jordan or anywhere else of their choosing. They have given themselves a third choice, which is never to make peace with the Israelis and do everything in their power (including terror, lies, slander, boycotts, fake news and even resorting to child abuse, by filling their children from babyhood with hate) to remove the Jews from their land. So, if they have become increasingly hopeless and despondent under neither direct nor indirect occupation, it is in their interest to reverse the trend. They can take either one of the first two choices because, no matter what they do, we are not budging from here.
Although Israel may refer to Judea and Samaria as “disputed territory” perhaps from fear of an uproar from the international community, the fact is the land belongs to the Jewish people, not only by biblical promise but also in international law.
Politicizing the Armenian genocide
There is indeed a disconnect as Seth Frantzman suggests in his article “Israel’s hesitant position on the Armenian genocide” (April 25). However the feeling that not enough recognition has been accorded to the persecution and murder of half a million Armenians a century ago, is not new.
In the early 1980s when my husband and others were founding the Rockland Center for Holocaust Studies in Spring Valley, New York, there was universal support for what was then the first such museum in the New York area. It was a matter of great consternation, therefore, when a group of people approached the founders with a demand that the new Museum begin its exhibition with a depiction of the Armenian genocide.
Despite the persistent and ever escalating demands for this recognition, the founders and survivors held fast to their view that the new museum would be a memorial and study center for the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, which they considered a unique historical event on its own.
Since that time many Holocaust museums, including this one, have included in their exhibitions references to other genocides, including that of the Armenians. Politicizing the Armenian genocide has little to do with historical veracity, nor does it necessarily add to the commemoration of the victims of that terrible event.
More to Orlando than Disneyworld
Reading “Orlando’s Holocaust museum is getting a huge expansion” (April 24) brought back memories of our visit to this gem of a museum in 2019.
Some highlights: “Behind the Bookcase” – a virtual reality tour of the annex where Anne Frank was hidden offered a substantively better tour than a visit to the actual house in Amsterdam. An eye-opening exhibition of the life of a Czech Jewish doctor who escaped the Holocaust and spent the war years in China before settling in Orlando.
A Holocaust exhibit which, while small for those of us who are familiar with Yad Vashem, offered a unique perspective into the experiences of some survivors who lived out their later lives in Orlando. Finally, the revelation that the young woman who showed us around the museum and has dedicated her career to Holocaust remembrance is an American-Lebanese Muslim.
This wonderful museum showed us that there is more to Orlando than Disneyworld.
Regarding “Settlement wine at VP Harris’s Seder raises a few eyebrows” (April 18): Vice President Harris served wine on her Seder dinner from Psagot, which is in Benjamin, a part of Judea and Samaria, the site of the Biblical town of Ai, mentioned in Joshua 8:1, 2,000 years before the first Arab, Abu Bakr, invaded our country in 634 CE.
The founders of the Psagot winery found a cave which is cool and ideal for storing wine. They cleared this cave and found a second cave. Here they found evidence that this second cave had been used 2,000 years ago to store wine. They also found a coin from the days of the revolt against Rome, 66-73 CE, and on it is stamped “For Freedom and Zion.”
Yes, this is the ideal wine to serve when celebrating the end of slavery and the start of freedom.
I am confused. Americans for Peace Now objects to the purchase of wine made in Area C which the Oslo Accords designated to be under full Israeli control. Thus, a “peace” organization is criticizing Jews who have built a productive community on land of historic and religious importance to Jews, land of strategic importance to Israel, land that was liberated from illegal Jordanian occupation only after Jordan allied with Egypt and Syria in a war instigated with the open intention of destroying the Jewish state and annihilating her people.
Yet, Americans for Peace Now isn’t criticizing the Palestinian Authority for flatly rejecting several proposals that could have led to the establishment of the first-ever-to-exist Arab state of Palestine, for inciting the people living under its administration to attack and kill Jews, for rewarding those who answer the call to violence with life-long stipends to murderers and/or their families. Nor does Americans for Peace Now criticize Hamas for reciprocating Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza by increasing the numbers and types of attacks launched at Israeli population centers by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza.
Peace won’t be achieved until the Palestinian leaders begin working on improving the lives of the people living under their administration instead of directing their efforts at destroying the nation-state of the Jews.
TOBY F. BLOCK
Basic Jewish values
Since all but a handful of US Democratic Congress members support Israel and have consistently voted to fund the Iron Dome and other ways to help Israel, it is sad that, according to your article, “Jewish organizations gear up for midterms” (April 24). AIPAC has endorsed 109 Republican Congress members who “voted to overturn the 2020 election results.” Israel depends on a strong, democratic US, but these members are part of a Republican Party that is trying to prevent certain groups from voting, elect state officials who will overturn the results of fair elections, and undermine democracy in other ways.
Making it even more shameful is that, at a time when climate change is increasingly seen as an existential threat to Israel and, indeed, to the entire world, “a Code Red for humanity,” according to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, these endorsees are members of a Republican Party that is not only in denial about climate change, but have, in support of their fossil fuel company donors, been doing everything possible to overturn or weaken legislation designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, AIPAC’s endorsements of politicians willing to override a democratic election provide ammunition to antisemites who argue that US Jews are more supportive of Israel than of the US, and are also likely to alienate many US Jews.
AIPAC would be wise to return to its previous policy of not endorsing candidates or to endorse only candidates who support basic Jewish values, as well as Israel.
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ