January 15, 2017: Six ways to reform UNRWA

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Six ways to reform UNRWA
In “UNRWA’s unsettling impact” (My Word, January 12), Liat Collins is mistaken in her suggestion to incorporate UNRWA into the UNHCR. It is not because her idea is illogical – it is not possible.
UNRWA operates under the United Nations General Assembly, whose automatic anti-Israel majority will never agree to any change in UNRWA status that would benefit Israel. Instead, the 68 UNRWA donor nations can be asked to adopt the URI (UNRWA Reform Initiative), with its six logical reforms in UNRWA policies that could encompass the conditions for further funding:
• Ask for an audit of donor funds. This would address widespread documented reports of wasted resources, duplication of services and an undesired flow of cash to the Gaza-based terror groups that have controlled UNRWA operations there for the past 18 years.
• Introduce UNHCR standards to UNRWA to advance the resettlement of Palestinian refugees. These people have spent some seven decades relegated to refugee status. Current UNRWA policy is that any refugee resettlement would interfere with the “right of return” to pre-1948 Arab localities. By adopting the political stance of Palestinian maximalists, UNRWA flouts its own commitment to the welfare and future of Palestinian refugees.
• Cancel the UNRWA curriculum, which is based on jihad, martyrdom and the right of return by force of arms.
• Cease paramilitary training in all UNRWA schools. It is an absurdity that UNRWA, a UN agency with a purported commitment to “peace education,” allows such training on its premises.
• Insist that UNRWA dismiss employees affiliated with Hamas in accordance with laws on the books in western nations that forbid aid to any agency that employs members of a terrorist organization.
• UNRWA recently hired a “youth ambassador,” Muhammad Assaf, to travel the world and encourage insurrection and violence. This would be an appropriate time to demand that UNRWA cancel its contract with a promoter of war.
The writer is director of the Israel Resource News Agency.
Hangs his head in shame
I hereby endorse the points made by Yonatan Gher (“Let’s not cast away our refugees and our heritage,” The Fifth Column, January 12). As a citizen of the nation-state of the Jewish people, I hang my head in shame.
Complicity in double standard
We’ve all heard of the self-hating Jew. We all know about the failures of Israeli hasbara (public diplomacy). Perhaps it is time to acknowledge a new self-destructive phenomenon: the self-hating Israeli.
Gil Hoffman (“After Yair: A nation without shame,” Analysis, January 10) is either guilty of this or shamefully ignorant and insulated. I guess he never read about US president George W. Bush’s daughters’ underage drinking spree, or the tax problems of the husband of vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, or Mrs. Jeb Bush’s smuggling of goods through customs, or their daughter’s arrest for faking drug prescriptions.
Yeah, the press had a field day – but the press loves a field day, and at the end of the day, none of the politicians involved were held accountable for their family members’ misdeeds.
Nor is America the only country to tolerate shameful behavior of a “wicked” spouse or errant child. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau of Canada was not condemned for his then-wife’s promiscuous behavior; the photos of her at a nightclub with her legs up – sans underwear – did not stain his legacy.
Israelis object to being held to a higher standard. But we are complicit. If Mr. Hoffman feels compelled to make a public confession, I suggest he confine it to the Hebrew edition of Haaretz rather than the country’s English-language newspaper of record, easily picked up (as it was) by Google News and internationally disseminated.
And shame on you, too, Jerusalem Post, for publishing such flagrantly inaccurate comments – and on Page 1, no less.
Stench of corruption
Two vital opinion pieces about corruption that recently appeared in The Jerusalem Post – Gil Troy’s “Corruption like a cancer grows...” (Center Field, January 2) and Lior Akerman’s “Just how rampant is the corruption?” (Observations, January 5) – could also have been headlined “Plundering the public purse with impunity.”
Have we not learned a lesson from Interior Minister’s Arye Deri’s antics of greed, graft and exploitation? His conduct, past and present, is indicative of the absurd Israeli political system camouflaged as a misplaced democracy – we suspect him and cronies with the same sordid background of playing fast and loose with public funds and lining colleagues’ and family’s pockets.
The stench of corruption pervades our leadership. What a disgrace and embarrassment!
Protect us against this political exploitation. Let our watchdogs loose to oversee our defective justice system. Is this to be a mafia state run by criminals or one that is governed by rule of law, with ethical principles and quality of life?
What’s happening in Iran
Iran is in the midst of change. What began as a rally in the city of Mashhad soon changed from a protest against rampant corruption, high prices and unemployment to slogans against the highest echelon of the Islamic Republic, namely Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
As expected, the system did not sit idle, and it unlashed its security forces to crush the protests. By some accounts, more than 20 people were killed and close to 3,000 arrested.
Unlike the Green Movement in 2009, which started in Tehran, this time the protests began in rural cities. And unlike the Green Movement, where protests were mostly by students and the intelligentsia, this time it involved regular working class people, tired and fed up with the uncertainties of their future. And finally, unlike the Green Movement with its single slogan “Where is my vote,” this time the protests pinpointed the heart of the Islamic Republic.
These protests and slogans have shown that the Iranian people are tired of the promises they hear every four years during elections. They are ready for true change. And change begins at the top.
What can we outside Iran do? It is a fact that Iranians in the diaspora are of different minds and ideals. What can unite us should be based on these four pillars: • Any change must happen in Iran without foreign intervention.
• A future system of governance must be based on the separation of religion and state.
• Every citizen has equal rights.
• Future governments should follow and adhere to the principles as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Iranians believe that all change must be brought about by those inside Iran. What they need is our moral support for their struggle for democracy.
As non-Iranians, you should partake in every demonstration held in your cities. You should pressure the representatives of the Islamic Republic outside Iran to respect the people’s will for change and the right of peaceful gatherings without being harassed, imprisoned and tortured.
Vienna, Virginia
The writer is international relations coordinator for the Union for Secular Republic and Human Rights in Iran.