UNRWA Textbooks
UNRWA Textbooks Miri Tzachi

Late last Friday, Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced a doubling of Australian aid to $20 million annually for the UN agency serving the Palestinian Arabs.

Timed right before the weekend and the Jewish New Year, Wong was hoping to avoid an outcry. But why is this such a controversial move?

The reason is due to the entity that Wong is sending your tax money to. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a long acronym for a highly controversial organization that has been much criticized.

UNRWA was established 73 years ago with a mandate to solve the Palestinian Arab refugee issue. During that time the number of Palestinian Arab ‘refugees’ has ballooned from 700,000 to almost six million. How is that possible?

The problem is UNRWA’s unique definition of refugee.

Simply being a grandchild or great- grandchild of an Arab who once lived in Israel automatically confers ‘refugee’ status on someone, no matter how comfortable their current existence is. Today, only a tiny fraction of ‘refugees’ UNRWA serves has ever set foot in the land they are supposedly refugees from.

A Palestinian Arab can even adopt a child and thus confer refugee status on that child. This bizarre definition of inherited ‘refugeeness’ is not applied to any other group in the world.

As the grandson of four refugees, the fact that I am born in Australia means I have no entitlement from the UN or any other organization. Holocaust survivors, along with millions of other displaced Europeans, ceased being refugees as soon as they made a new home for themselves.

This ‘right of return’ for all who claim descent from Palestinian Arabs is widely understood as a mechanism to destroy the Jewish state since Arab descendants would outnumber Israeli Jews and turn the world’s only Jewish state into the world’s 23rd Arab nation. UNRWA thus fuels the Middle East conflict by keeping these people in limbo instead of resettling them, which the UN does for every other refugee group.

Deluded into thinking they will ‘return’ to Israel, millions of Arabs sit in makeshift camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Of course, they could have been resettled in these countries but, despite the shared language, culture and religion, these nations kept Palestinian Arabs separate, denying them citizenship and restricting which occupations they can work in.

Having a population perpetually focused on Israel deflects from these leaders’ own governance failures. Contrast this with the 800,000 Jews expelled from Muslim nations at the same time.

They were all immediately resettled, a feat managed without any UN agencies.

Every single other refugee group in the world falls under the jurisdiction of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The Palestinian Arabs are unique, being the only group in history to ever have a dedicated UN refugee agency.

This explains why dozens of refugee crises worldwide have been solved in the decades that UNRWA was morphing into a colossal international aid-guzzling bureaucracy.

Today it has 30, 000 employees and a $2.5 billion budget. Each year the UNRWA behemoth grows alongside the exponential growth of Palestinian Arab ‘refugees’.

All this would be bad enough if UNRWA was just a giant white elephant but it is much more sinister. UNRWA directly fuels violence. Textbooks produced by UNRWA and used in UNRWA schools have repeatedly been found promoting repugnant anti-semitism and encouraging terrorist attacks.

Poems call for children to die as martyrs and carry out ‘Jihad’ to liberate Jerusalem from the Jews. Jews are labelled “enemies of Islam”.

Penny Wong’s timing is interesting. Last week the US House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced a bill to severely curtail US funds going to UNRWA because of the hatred and incitement in textbooks.

A week before that, the European Union Foreign Affairs Committee slammed UNRWA after examining a report that found UNRWA textbooks promoted hatred, antisemitism and the celebration of terrorism, bloodshed and martyrdom.

Textbooks are far from the only concern. Last year, UN Watch exposed social media posts from more than 100 teachers, school principals and other employees who praised Hitler, incited hatred against Jews and supported terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. In response, UNRWA announced an investigation into 10 teachers.

That those entrusted to educate children are spreading such hatred should concern everyone. The fact that Australian taxes are paying for this hatred is inexcusable.

Terror organisation Hamas recruits youth from UNRWA schools and has boasted about its relationship with UNRWA, which has become part of the jihadist production line.

Bi-annually, UNRWA announces a new funding crisis and shamelessly comes cap in hand, asking for money. Western nations readily oblige them.

But something changed recently. Due to persistent concerns, the Morrison Government had significantly reduced funding to UNRWA to $10 million. A re-elected Morrison Government may have even scrapped it entirely.

The Albanese Government is taking a massive step backwards and they’re doing it with your money.

With foreign aid challenges on our doorstep, an assertive China and renewed conflict in Europe, is this really the best value for our aid dollar?

When it comes to Australia’s stretched foreign aid budget, we should demand results. UNRWA was established 73 years ago and in all that time, they haven’t demonstrated a single achievement.

No closer to solving the situation of Palestinian Arabs, UNRWA is an abject failure and undeserving of Australian tax dollars.

Robert Gregoryis the Director of Public Affairs at the Australian Jewish Association

Reposted with writer's permission from the Australian Daily Telegraph.