Saturday, February 10, 2018

If you fly Qatar Airways, you support Hamas

9 February 2018, by Steve Lieblich:

I often see Facebook friends "check in" to Doha airport, often  en route from Australia to Europe and sometimes (indirectly) to Israel. I guess they don't realize that being a customer of Qatar Airways is helping to fund terror attacks on Israeli civilians and the billionaire lifestyles of Hamas leaders.

In May 2014, Qatar Airways’ chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker said that the airline was now fully owned by the Qatar government. “We became fully government owned in July last year,” he said at a news conference, after the country’s sovereign fund bought a 50-percent stake from Qatar’s former prime minister and other shareholders.

Since Hamas assumed control in Gaza in 2007, Qatar has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the territory and backed Hamas diplomatically, sheltering its exiled leader Khaled Mashaal.
In 2007, Qatar was one of the only countries to back Hamas after the group booted the more moderate Palestinian Authority out of the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup. In 2012, its then-emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, became the first head of state to visit Gaza under Hamas rule, pledging to raise $400 million toward reconstruction.

In September 2014, Qatar, despite its attempts to improve its image, by welcoming foreign universities, backing al-Jazeera and planning to host the 2022 World Cup, was criticised in the US Congress for its championing of Hamas.

In November 2017, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said the IDF’s destruction of a tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory was a crime against the Palestinian people that hampered their "legitimate rights" to attack Israeli civilians.
“The State of Qatar expressed its strong condemnation of the Israeli shelling of Gaza Strip in which a number of Palestinians were martyred and others were injured… a continuation of the Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people and a desperate attempt to obstruct their efforts for claiming their legitimate rights.”
Five Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists — including two senior commanders — and two terrorists from Hamas’s armed wing were killed as a result of the tunnel’s destruction. Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh confirmed that the attack tunnel was built by his group for the purpose of kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

Qatar has long been a supporter of Hamas and has paid for much of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip after the terror group fought a 50-day war with Israel in 2014.

Qatar reiterated its “full support for the Palestinian people’s self-determination and restoration of all legitimate rights, foremost of which is the establishment of an independent and sovereign state on the borders of June 4, 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital.”

In response, in the same month (November 2017), in Washington: A US-Government bipartisan panel singled out Qatar by backing legislation that would slap sanctions on any countries or individuals providing financial and material support to the Islamic militant group Hamas. The proposed bill specifically criticised Qatar for having backed Hamas and hosting senior members of the militant group. The legislation cited a March 2014 Treasury Department report that said Qatar “has for many years openly financed Hamas.”

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain broke ties with Qatar earlier this year over allegations it funds terrorism. The US echoed the accusation.

Ismail Haniyeh (R) and Hamas associates on Haniyeh’s private plane on the way to Qatar at the onset of Operation Protective Edge.
A 27,000 square meter commercial development in Doha, including four towers, office and commercial space and a 10,000 square meter mall, is owned by the wife and children of another Hamas leader, Khaled Mashal. Read more

Last month (January 2018) The United States put Ismail Haniyeh, on its terror blacklist and slapped sanctions on him. The 55-year-old Haniyeh was named head of Hamas in May 2017. 
“Haniyeh has close links with Hamas... and has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians … He has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. Hamas has been responsible for an estimated 17 American lives killed in terrorist attacks.”
A few days ago (Thursday 9 February 2018) the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, promised Hamas terror group leader Ismail Hanieyh financial aid. Al Thani affirmed that Qatar would continue to “support the Palestinian people...”

It was the first phone conversation between a world leader and Haniyeh after the US’s decision to add the Hamas leader to its global terror blacklist. Haniyeh thanked the Qatari emir…

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Trump's Potential UNRWA Reforms

From the Middle East Forum, January 31, 2018:

... the Trump administration might "refuse to accept UNRWA's special status for 'Palestine refugees,'" and suspend all U.S. government funding of the group.

... the end of U.S. recognition of fake Palestinian refugees who never lived in what is today Israel, [will remove] a source of irredentism and terrorism.

Middle East Forum director Gregg Roman:
"So long as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency continues to proliferate 'refugees' and breed a victim mentality, it encourages conflict.... Should these reports be true, it would be a major step toward peace."
Forum president Daniel Pipes:
"The American taxpayer is UNRWA's largest donor, paying $370 million in 2016 alone... These funds support violent attacks on Jews, encourage corruption, and delay an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Forum encourages President Trump to take bold leadership and reign in a rogue organization."
These potential moves are consistent with the Forum's Israel Victory Project, which calls for delaying diplomacy until the Palestinians give up their effort to eliminate the Jewish state.

According to The Guardian, Al-Monitor, and NPR, President Trump adopted the Forum's idea when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ordered the embassy moved there.

UNRWA: The UN Agency that Creates Palestinian Refugees

From Gatestone Institute, 29 January 2018, by Pierre Rehov:

  •  According to the UN's own definition, the status of "refugee" cannot be passed from generation to generation -- as it conveniently has been for the Palestinians. A Palestinian with a European, American or Jordanian passport has no reason to be considered a refugee. Except by UNRWA.
  • "Since the UN took them over, the Palestinians started burying their dead at night, without declaring them, in order to share their rations. As a result, for nearly 20 years, the official death rate in the camps was close to zero. In addition, there was a lot of movement between the camps. But these displacements were rarely recorded, so that a Palestinian could appear in several camps at the same time..." — Said Aburish, Palestinian Refugee and biographer of the late Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat.
  • UNRWA is not just a humanitarian agency. Its political stance is evident at all levels of the organization. A report from the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, says that the 2016-2017 curriculum for elementary schools in PA, partly funded by UNRWA, "teaches students to be martyrs, to demonize and deny the existence of Israel, and to focus on a 'return' to an exclusively Palestinian country."

In the context of announced budget cuts, the US administration recently announced that it will drastically reduce its financial support of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley wanted the outright cancellation of the $364 million allocated each year to the UN agency, as long as it did not implement reforms and transparency, but US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was for the time being content to halve the first tranche of aid, originally set at $125 million.

At the heart of this case is the desire of US President Donald Trump to stop financing any agency or international organization that does not reflect American interests. There is also, however, a 180-degree turn on the US position in the Arab-Israeli conflict by the new administration. It seems determined not to make the same mistakes -- and fall into the same traps -- as previous administrations.
First, what is UNRWA?

Established in December 1949 with a one-year mandate, UNRWA aimed at its birth to help resettle the 600,000 Palestinian Arabs who had fled the conflict zone during the rebirth of the state of Israel, after five Arab armies had attacked it -- and lost.
The causes of this exile were threefold, according to several polls undertaken in refugee camps and summarized in an article by Tibor Mende, published in French newspaper Le Monde on April 21, 1951:
"Some did not want to live in a Jewish state, others fled the battle and, once that was over, could not return home. Many more left because they were told that it was for a few days, a few weeks at most, and that they would return with the triumphant Arab armies. "
Surprisingly (or not), no parallel office was created to help the 870,000 Jews expelled and despoiled by the majority of Arab-Muslim countries between 1948 and 1974 -- including those militarily forced out of Judea and Samaria by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which hastened to rename this region the "West Bank" after illegally annexing it in 1948.

It is true that most of the Jews expelled from Arab countries were welcomed by Israel and in the Western world, whereas, with the exception of Jordan, no Arab country bordering the Jewish state made the slightest gesture to help its own victims in a conflict the Arabs had begun. They apparently preferred, instead, to let their co-religionists languish in the worst conditions, presumably in an effort to place the blame for their suffering on Israel.
In 1950, when Canada's General Howard Kennedy and Sir Henry Knight, the first UNRWA leaders, realized that their work was rendered impossible by the politicization of the humanitarian crisis with which they were charged, and that their mandate could not be fulfilled in such a short time, an English Labour MP, Richard Crossrian, was called to explain their failure in the House of Commons. His answer, as reported by Mende in Le Monde, was eloquent:
"As long as we rely on the United Nations to do something serious for the settlement of refugees, we will only deceive ourselves because the United Nations is a political organization. There is the Arab League, and all the politics of the Arab League. The Arab League needs the refugee problem to maintain cohesion against Israel. The refugee settlement would deprive her of her most important complaint ... "
This statement is arguably the best explanation for the fact that UNRWA, created for one year, as noted, is still in operation 70 years later.

In seven decades, the small humanitarian agency has become a monster. UNRWA now has responsibility for more than five million souls, of which only some 20,000 should be considered refugees according to the definition of the UN, which applies to millions of exiles around the world... with the intriguing exception of Palestinians.
"A refugee - within the meaning of the Convention of July 28, 1951 - is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries..."
Therefore, according to the UN's own definition, the status of "refugee" cannot be passed from generation to generation -- as it conveniently has been for the Palestinians. A Palestinian with a European, American or Jordanian passport has no reason to be considered a refugee. Except by UNRWA.
Compare some figures:
  • All refugees worldwide (with the exception of Palestinians) are supported by the United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHCR). A staff of 10,966 executives and employees is trying to help 65.6 million victims, from Congo to Myanmar.
  • UNRWA employs 30,627 executives and 21,571 educators to care for the descendants of Palestinian refugees, whose number, even with the claims of supposedly inherited refugee status, remains ten times lower than all other persons displaced.
In other words, even if one accepts the inapplicable definition of the term "refugee" -- attributed not only to the exiles of 1948 but also to their descendants -- each beneficiary receives assistance in human assistance and money approximately 50 times higher than that of an African or Asian victim of persecution.

UNRWA's annual budget is close to $ 1 billion, of which more than a third, as noted, is funded by the US. Wait, there is more: Unlike other UN humanitarian agencies, the one in charge of the descendants of Palestinian refugees, has a pension fund -- and pensions on the stock market in various countries amount to more than a billion and a half dollars. These figures are astronomical, and only underscore several aberrations of UNRWA.
First, according to UNRWA:
"a refugee from Palestine is a person whose usual place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 and who lost both his home and his means of livelihood because of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. "
Clearly, any immigrant worker or visitor, regardless of his or her origin, could thereby enter the UNRWA statistics, if he could justify having spent just those two years inside what then became Israel.

Yasser Arafat's biographer, Said Aburish, a refugee from the northern region of Israel, and also a former adviser to the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, disclosed other aberrations when interviewed by the author:
"Since the UN took them over, the Palestinians started burying their dead at night, without declaring them, in order to share their rations. As a result, for nearly 20 years, the official death rate in the camps was close to zero. In addition, there was a lot of movement between the camps. But these displacements were rarely recorded, so that a Palestinian could appear in several camps at the same time, multiplying the financial support to which he was entitled." (Interview by the author, in 2006, featured in the documentary "From the River to the Sea.")
When it comes to UNRWA, however, the terms used to describe their mission quickly lose their meaning. The suburbs of Jenin and Ramallah, for instance, composed of small plush houses, bordering some overcrowded residences, continue to be called "refugee camps," while tents and stoves have long been replaced by solid constructions, all with sewage and electricity.

To quote a former minister and history professor, Shlomo Ben Ami, in an interview with the author, in May 2006: "Administrations, to survive, tend to perpetuate the problem they are supposed to solve".

UNRWA has mushroomed -- largely on account of at least five generations of "inherited refugee status" -- without apparently having even tried to solve a single refugee problem in seven decades.

In the 1960s, the Israeli government developed a humanitarian project for the self-rehabilitation of Gaza refugees. The idea was simple: it was to build modern residential neighborhoods in the unexploited areas of the formerly-Egyptian Gaza Strip. The 160,000 Palestinians living in camps there would obtain free loans, allowing them quick access to the property, while many would participate in the construction of units, infrastructure, schools and hospitals, in exchange for a salary that would allow them to repay the loan.

The reaction was not long in coming. PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat immediately appealed to the Arab League, which immediately put pressure on the United Nations, causing the organization to immediately to condemn Israel for this initiative, and .and concluded its resolution with the following injunction: "Return the refugees to the camps!" The project was aborted after only 7,500 Palestinians were able to enjoy it.

This "incident" was reported by Tibor Mende in Le Monde. Mende discovered, on the ground, that any initiative aimed at integrating or rehabilitating Palestinian refugees from Lebanon -- where, today, they still have no rights, no access to the labor market, nor to the most basic care -- was prohibited, and concluded:
"These examples support the generally held view that the United Nations would spend large sums of money to create a refugee problem rather than solve it."
Proponents of UNRWA, however, such as UN spokesman St├ęphane Dujarric, are right to say that, in a certain way "UNRWA is a stabilizing presence on the ground". If tomorrow the more than 50,000 UNRWA employees, 95% of whom are Palestinians, were left without work; and rations, aids, and access to education for dependents were removed, the already explosive situation in the "camps" could become equally unfortunate.

Another more serious problem remains: UNRWA is not just a humanitarian agency. Its political stance is evident at all levels of the organization. A report from the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, says that the 2016-2017 curriculum for elementary schools in PA, partly funded by UNRWA, "teaches students to be martyrs, to demonize and deny the existence of Israel, and to focus on a 'return' to an exclusively Palestinian country."

Ann Dismorr (right), the Director of UNRWA in Lebanon, poses with a map that erases the State of Israel and presents all of it as "Palestine." (Image source: Palestinian Authority TV via Palestinian Media Watch)

On February 12, 2017, the non-governmental organization "UN Watch" sent a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, denouncing the actions of about 40 UNRWA officials. The officials' Facebook pages, the report shows, make apologies for Nazism, venerate Hitler, call for the extermination of Jews, celebrate the murder and kidnapping of Israelis, publish Hamas propaganda to the glory of "martyrs" and, more generally, deny the right to Israel's existence, whatever its boundaries. With his back put to the wall by these overwhelming revelations, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness hastened to call for an investigation -- against UN Watch!

Even the most moderate among UNRWA loyalists continue to promote the myth of a "right of return" -- a wish that can never be realized because it means flooding the tiny country of Israel (roughly the size of Vancouver Island) with millions of "Palestinian refugees" in order demographically to outnumber the Jews there and thus create the end of Israeli democracy -- and preventing any attempt at "integration".

During the wars between Israel and the terrorist organizations that rule Gaza, rockets were commonly fired from UNRWA schools or from near its hospitals.

Access to several terror tunnels was dug under UNRWA's infrastructure; ammunition was found in its college. Of course, when questioned on these points, UNRWA officials hastened to condemn the intolerable use of their neutrality for the purposes of war! But that did not stop UNRWA from returning the rockets and other mortars found in its infrastructure to Hamas.

Several video reports by the Center for Near East Policy to students at UNRWA schools are even more disturbing. No child, questioned on this point, recognizes the right to the existence of Israel. All girls and boys dream of one day becoming martyrs to the Palestinian cause, and some unashamedly say that their greatest wish is to kill Jews. When asked about the source of their motivation, most said that their teachers taught them that their country was "stolen by the Jews.

So, how to deal with such a situation?

The first logical solution would be to merge UNRWA with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), thus ending the "Palestinian exception," while distributing UN budgets more equitably among the true refugees suffering extreme misery.

Unfortunately, UNRWA is dependent on the UN General Assembly, where the anti-Israeli automatic majority, led by the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, has so far been preventing any change in its current status.

The gradual withdrawal of funds allocated by the US seems a positive measure, provided that the resulting shortage leads UNRWA to reform its structure and mode of operation. The danger is that rogue countries will probably try to take over.

The next step would be for the UN to be transparent; to have outside monitors from the US make sure that no member of any terrorist organization is a part of its staff; to trade its highly questionable school curriculum for an education toward peace; to denounce the paramilitary training that sometimes takes place in the courtyards of its schools and, as a token of good faith, to begin by canceling the world tour of its "young ambassador", Muhammad Assaf, who, during his talks, only encourages violence.

It is hard not to include a quote from UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness: "UNRWA will continue to work tirelessly to ensure the full implementation of our mandate, as defined by the General Assembly. "

In other words, in 30 years, if nothing is done, UNRWA, instead of managing the fate of supposedly between 5 - 6.5 million Palestinians as it does now, will be managing the fate of 40 million.

Censoring talk of Polish complicity in the Holocaust will only make the hatred to simmer and deepen.

From JPost, 29 January 2018, by Lahav Harkov:

Stutthof concentration camp, Poland
Stutthof concentration camp, Poland. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA / PHILIPP P EGLI)

...the newly-approved Polish bill  ...didn’t just ban the phrase “Polish death camps” like the headlines say. It outlaws any mention of Polish complicity in the Nazi atrocities, and the offense carries a prison sentence of three years.

Here are some facts about Poland and the Holocaust:

  • Half of the Jews murdered in the Holocaust, about 3 million, were Polish. 
  • Over 90% of Poland’s Jewish population was slaughtered in the Holocaust. You don’t get to numbers like that without cooperation. 
  • In 1941, Poles in the Jedwabne started a pogrom, and locked Jews in a wooden barn that they set on fire. 
  • After the war ended, another pogrom against Jewish refugees took place in Kielce, which is only one of about a dozen cases of postwar violence against Polish Jews sparked by blood libels. 
  • Stories abound about Jews who tried to return to their homes in Poland only to be threatened or murdered by their former neighbors – including some people who I know personally.

At the same time, yes, over 6,000 Poles have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations, and hundreds were killed by the Nazis for helping Jews. Yes, the Polish government in exile helped expose Nazi concentration camps to the world. And yes, 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians were killed by the Nazis and others in combat ...

As a journalist, and as a freedom-loving individual, I abhor censorship. I can just barely stomach it for national security reasons. But this has no security value. This is censoring history to protect Poland’s national ego and avoid confronting the demons of its past. This is borderline Holocaust denial, and it goes along with a trend occurring in neighboring countries, like Hungary and Ukraine.

...Poland needs to face facts. Their country was deeply antisemitic, and it remains so. An Anti-Defamation League poll from 2014 shows 45% of Poles hold antisemitic views.

The way to let go of hate is for Poles who want better for their country to admit it’s there, talk about it, and try to release the demons. Censoring talk of Polish people’s complicity in the Holocaust will only make the hatred that allowed these atrocities to take place simmer and deepen.

Washington reexamining aid to Palestinians

From Times of Israel, 24 January 2018:

... some US officials -- particularly UN envoy Nikki Haley -- are not content with UNRWA cuts, want PA to pay for its boycott of administration

US President Donald Trump speaks with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, before a meeting at the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, on September 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
US President Donald Trump speaks with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, before a meeting at the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, on September 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The US leadership is looking beyond its recent cuts to the the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, with the State Department reexamining the entirety of its aid budget to the Palestinian Authority, Hadashot news reported Wednesday.
According to the TV station, which indicated the report was based on US sources, the $100 million cut to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) earlier this month may well only be the start, as the crisis between Washington and Ramallah deepens. 
A top proponent of further cuts is said to be US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who reportedly wants the Palestinian leadership to pay for its attitude towards the US government and President Donald Trump. Other officials are said to oppose further cuts.
...Earlier this month, Trump asked why Washington should make “any of these massive future payments,” when the Palestinians were “no longer willing to talk peace.”
In a tweet, the president dismissed Palestinian fury over his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying he had planned for Israel “to pay” in future negotiations for his declaration. But Palestinian intransigence was now preventing any progress on peace talks, he said
Washington had been paying the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars a year “for nothing,” he wrote, complaining that the US received “no appreciation or respect” in return.
“They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel,” he said. “We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more.”
“But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace,” he went on, “why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
Hadashot news said it was told that the consideration of further cuts was not intended as a sanction against the Palestinians. However, it was also told that if the Palestinians end their boycott of the Trump administration, budget cuts would be removed from the agenda.
The TV station noted that Israeli leadership is not keen on deep cuts to Palestinian funding, with officials afraid that backing the Palestinians into a financial corner could lead to escalation in the territories.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference prior to attending a EU foreign affairs council at the European Council in Brussels, January 22, 2018. (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)
The US State Department last week put on hold two planned payments of more than $100 million to UNRWA.
The State Department denied that the freeze was to punish the Palestinian Authority, which has cut ties with Trump’s administration, following his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. A spokeswoman said it was linked to necessary “reform” of UNRWA.
Pierre Krahenbuhl, the agency’s commissioner general, said it had not been informed by the United States of any new reform demands, and had been simply “caught up” in a political dispute.
The US gave around $700 million in support to the Palestinians last year, of which about half went to UNRWA, which has a non-political mandate to provide schooling, health care, and other services to more than three million Palestinians across the Middle East.
While welcomed in Israel, Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital angered the Palestinians, who seek East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has said that the US under Trump can no longer be a mediator in peace talks with Israel, even though Trump stressed the recognition was not a statement of position on the city’s final boundaries.
In late December, the United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn the US decision in a non-binding resolution, after the US vetoed a similar Security Council measure.
Mahmoud al-Aloul, member of the Central Committee of Fatah. January 6, 2010. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90/File)
Meanwhile, the deputy chief of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party said this week that Palestinian leadership believes the US has never given anything of “substance” to the Palestinians.
“Recently, we were forced to review all of our relations with the American administrations in recent years, and not just the Trump administration,” Mahmoud al-Aloul told the London-based Pan-Arab daily Al Quds Al Arabi. “We assessed that nothing good will come from them for the Palestinian people and the nation, and this is completely clear.
“With all their might, they support [the Palestinians’] enemy that is occupying their lands,” he said.
Dov Lieber and AFP contributed to this report.