Dear Friend of FLAME:
Israel has charged Palestinian operatives at two separate aid organizations with diverting Gaza welfare and redevelopment funds to military projects of the Hamas terror group.
One NGO charity, World Vision—with an annual worldwide budget of some $2.8 billion—is said to have repurposed up to $50 million in cash and materials to Hamas for years. Professing to be “shocked” at these revelations, the NGO has ceased operations in Gaza, and numerous state funders have withdrawn their support.
Similarly, a functionary at the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), was just accused of misdirecting funds to support Hamas members and military projects. The UNDP has conducted an audit confirming that staffers had “incorrectly” handled funding.
So let me ask you this: How surprised are you?
In the nine years since Israel pulled out of Gaza, Hamas has waged three wars against the Jewish state. Because most of the billions in aid money sent to Gaza to help the Palestinians rebuild has been spent to support Hamas’s militarization, the group has made scant progress is restoring the 11,000 homes destroyed in the last war.
In fact, a huge portion of the international aid given to the Palestinians—both in Gaza and the West Bank—also goes to line the pockets of corrupt Palestinian rulers and support terror activities. Particularly galling is the estimated $140 million a year in taxpayer money given through the U.N. that is used by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pay honoraria to the families of killed or jailed terrorists.
But the most disturbing element in this long-established pattern of misused funds by the Palestinians is that the U.N. and U.S. bureaucrats turn a blind eye to the practice. They accept this corruption for the sake of maintaining a semblance of stability within an economically and politically bankrupt Palestinian society—because without this aid that society would rapidly crumble.
To all this, I would only say to the U.N. and the U.S. State Department: It’s egregious enough for you to accept rampant corruption in the PA and Hamas and for you to continue to support it with more than $1 billion in international “aid” annually. But for G_d’s sake, stop trying to force Israel to sign a peace deal with these miscreants—or pretend the Palestinians have either the desire or the capability to fulfill a peace agreement.
This week’s FLAME Hotline featured article is a short piece by the outspoken commentator Jonathan Tobin. who elucidates the Palestinian culture of corruption at the top and calls to account the many NGOs and U.N. organizations that naively—or stupidly—enable it with funding.
Tobin offers a prickly perspective you won’t read in the mainstream press. I urge you to pass this article on to your friends, colleagues and family members—especially those who may not understand the need to cut American aid to NGOs and U.N. agencies that serve as bottomless piggy banks for global Islamist jihad and terrorism directed at Israeli citizens.
In addition, I hope you’ll also quickly review the P.S. immediately below, which describes FLAME’s current hasbarah campaign addressing just such American funding of the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) and the organization’s teaching of terrorism and hate to Palestinian youth.
Executive Vice President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)
Where Palestinian Aid Really Goes
By Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, August 11, 2016
In the last week, two scandals involving aid to the Palestinians have emerged. In one, a United Nations engineer managing its program for rebuilding homes in Gaza destroyed in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas was caught funneling building materials to the Hamas terrorist group for their military facilities. In another, the Gaza manager of the World Vision international charity was found to have transferred up to $50 million raised from well-meaning people around the globe to Hamas for its uncharitable activities. Coincidence? I don’t think so and neither should anyone else.
The initial reaction from both the UN and World Vision was a combination of denial and shock at the notion that anyone would think these cases are typical. What people who give to causes that purport to help poor Palestinians should understand is that this kind of malfeasance is not a matter of individuals going off the rails but a function of the political culture in which they live. Stealing money intended for humanitarian use is endemic not only by those employed by outside agencies but also by the ruling factions. Hamas-run Gaza is very much like the Palestinian Authority kleptocracy that runs the West Bank. Both are pits of corruption.
What’s curious is that this knowledge hasn’t seemed to penetrate into the consciousness of the international philanthropic world. Though other peoples have suffered more and are given less, the Palestinians have been the focus of more attention than any other humanitarian cause. The United Nations has one refugee agency to deal with just the Palestinians—the UN Relief and Works Agency—and another to help with everyone else around the world. UNRWA has done far more to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem than to solve it. Moreover, the Palestinians are also the recipients of vast amounts of charitable aid from other sources including governments and numerous philanthropic agencies.
Why does Palestinian corruption get a pass? Because their status as alleged victims of the Jews seems to give them priority over every other group in the world.
How can we be all that shocked when individuals divert money and material intended to alleviate the plight of ordinary Palestinians to terrorism when that is precisely what both Hamas and Fatah do on a regular basis and on a much larger scale? That is especially true for Mahmoud Abbas’s faction, whose leaders have grown wealthy while the world continues to picture Palestinians as indigent. A group that pays pensions to imprisoned terrorists and to the survivors of those who died while trying to kill Jews (and boasts on Facebook that it has killed 11,000 Israelis) ought not to be in any position to cry poverty, but that is exactly what it does.
The supposedly more puritanical Islamists of Hamas are guilty of many of the same offenses. Few homes have been rebuilt there since the 2014 war but somehow the Hamas tunnel network—which serves as a point of attack for terror raids into Israel and strongholds to shelter Palestinian armaments, fighters, and leaders while the population has no bomb shelters—has been reconstituted and strengthened.
The UN and World Vision and all those who contribute to other Palestinian charities should spare us their expressions of shock or denials about these scandals. While the Palestinians have genuine needs, anyone who gives money to them should do so in the knowledge that they are just as likely to be financing a terrorist’s pension, a terror tunnel, or a Hamas bunker than they are to feed a child or build a home.