PHILADELPHIA – January 18, 2018 – The Middle East Forum announces a donation of one million dollars to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
After the U.S. Government partially withheld funding, UNRWA's head called on "people of good will in every corner of the globe where solidarity and partnerships exist for Palestine Refugees" to "join us in responding to this crisis and #FundUNRWA."
The Middle East Forum has responded: "Despite UNRWA's long record of misbehavior: incitement against Israel, supporting violent attacks on Jews, and corruption, we are prepared to help UNRWA, conditional on it making some reforms," said Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum. "We are delighted to contribute in solidarity if UNRWA takes steps to end the Palestine refugee problem.
"The Forum's contribution requires UNRWA to end the automatic registering in perpetuity of (1) the descendants of refugees, (2) those who hold a nationality, and (3) those who live in their purported homeland, the West Bank and Gaza. Making these technical changes puts it in line with all other refugee agencies and reduces the number of Palestine refugees from 5.3 million to around 20,000. Our one-million-dollar donation will go a long way to meet the humanitarian considerations of this small and diminishing number."
The Middle East Forum has long pressed for a tightening of requirements for the "Palestine refugee" status, seeing this as both improving Palestinian lives and diminishing the threat to Israel.
"The current UNRWA definition breeds a victimhood mentality that perpetuates Palestinian-Israeli conflict," notes Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum. "We hope our funding can inspire improvements in the lives of those in need while bringing the conflict closer to resolution."
On its own, UNRWA can adjust the definition of a refugee and has done so. In 1950, UNRWA defined a refugee as "a needy person, who, as a result of the war in Palestine, has lost his home, and his means of livelihood." There was no reference to descendants. In 1965 and 1982, UNRWA unilaterally decided to extend refugee status to all descendants, which meant the number of "Palestine refugees" now expands without limit.
The Middle East Forum is ready to help UNRWA out of this predicament. The offer is valid until June 30, 2018. MEF's management alone will decide when the conditions for payment have been fulfilled.
The Middle East Forum promotes American interests through activist, intellectual, and philanthropic efforts.
For immediate release
For more information, contact:
Gregg Roman, Director