Chris Gunness, UNRWA, David Bedein - and Arutz Sheva

Rochel Sylvetsky,

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Rochel Sylvetsky
Rochel Sylvetsky is Senior Consultant to Arutz Sheva's English site and serves as op-ed and Judaism editor. She is a former Chairperson of Emunah Israel (1991-96), CEO/Director of Kfar Hanoar Hadati Youth Village, member of the Emek Zevulun Regional Council and the Religious Education Council of Israel's Education Ministry. She has degrees in Mathematics and Jewish Education.

During the current IDF Operation, rockets were found in a UNRWA school and handed over to Hamas – causing even Ban KI-Moon to react with uncharacteristic (i.e. not of Israel) criticism. Chris Gunness, UNRWA spokesman in Gaza, not to be left wanting, accused Israel of firing on a school filled with people and killing at least 15, a claim the IDF investigated and found to be false.

Arutz Sheva was not surprised. Chris Gunness is an old adversary of Arutz Sheva, where, thanks to David Bedein of the Israel Resource News Agency, UNRWA has been exposed for many  previous and most serious abrogations of its mandate. The just discovered rockets are only  one part of the story – and  the educational travesty Bedein discovered is possibly even more lethal.

The UNRWA mandate in itself is questionable enough. All the tens of millions of people turned into refugees around the globe are herded into one refugee aid organizational umbrella in the UN, UNHCR – and stop being refugees as soon as they can be resettled.  Palestinian Arabs, however, mostly third generation "refugees", have their very own organization, UNRWA, whose aim seems to be perpetuating its own existence by preventing them from facing reality.[Question: Does this make the Palestinian Arabs an "Elite Perpetual Refugee Group" (EPRG's)?

"Refugee" is a word I grew up with referring to Ashkenazi Jews after WWII and later, Sephardi Jews who fled/were expelled from their homes after the establishment of the state of Israel. (The latter numbered about 800,000, about the same as the Palestinian Arabs who left their homes in 1949). Some of my school friends were in those two categories. Both groups of refugee Jews are no longer refugees, building lives in their new homes in Israel and abroad, and there are heartbreaking numbers of new refugees in the world today, with the millions of Syrians fleeing their blood-soaked country a recent addition to the list.  None are EPRG's, but maybe they are lucky not to be.

That aside, the PA educational system also perpetuates refugee-ism by teaching the so-called "right of return'  to Israeli towns and villages well within the UN-recognized state of Israel and while doing so, calls for armed battle with the state of Israel, the country in which I live – so I know it's there -  but which does not appear on its maps.

UNRWA takes active part in those "educational" efforts; David Bedein obtained visual proof. Only Arutz Sheva was willing to post his findings, leading to a hot debate with UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, who then had the chutzpa to post the lie on his website that Arutz Sheva, while investigating, had retracted. A not-so-friendly phone conversation with this blogger ensued. Make sure to read the article describing the fact-finding, showing pictures of a UNRwA war-mongering "educational" facility obtained by Bedein through an Arab TV crew with whom he communicated by remote control and the ensuing Arutz Sheva- Bedein vs. Gunness dispute going as far back as 2011.

Chris Gunness' "appearances" on Arutz Sheva  may be found easily by putting his name in the search window on the top of the main page.

One 2009 article reports on an IDF video showing rockets being fired from an UNRWA facility, with Gunness admitting the school had been used for that purpose, but claiming that this was done without his knowledge and after it was deserted. "Allegations that UNRWA facilities are used by militants are always investigated and we will cooperate so our name can be cleared," Gunness stated. This left Gunness five years to investigate all UNRWA facilities, publicly expose the issue, demand results and get the rockets out way before Operation Protective Edge.  

This did not happen, as we know, but UNRWA  did get them out in July, 2014. Always opposed to wasting useful products, it gave them back to Hamas.

Just received from David Bedein: An important information tool in the middle east  is Wikipedia, which holds the key to win over the minds of rational thinking people - especially the policy makers and legislators  from 38 nations that provide a total of $1.2 billion to UNRWA. In that context,  a Wikipedia Page known as the "Unrwa Reform Initiative" page was created, to consolidate Bedein's investigations of UNRWA, and to policy makers and opinion makers provide evidence that UNRWA erpetuates the problem, while hosting Hamas terror group in its  facilities, which now include 75% of the the Gaza population. 

Instead of defending itself with facts, UNRWA has mounted a campaign with Wikipedia to delete the " Unrwa Reform Initiative". Submit a short, clear and  rational  letter to Wikipedia , explaining why the page should not be deleted.