LIke-minded democracies have said they will freeze funding to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) after evidence that UNRWA employees participated in the October 07 Hamas-led massacre of Israelis. Co-director of the Israel Institute of New Zealand, Dr David Cumin, asks why New Zealand isn’t following their lead,
“The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Finland, Scotland, and the Netherlands have all said they are pausing their funding. Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has made no such assurances – why is that? Especially after Minister Peters has said he wants to be closer to the other Five Eyes nations.
Is MFAT wagging the proverbial dog for Helen Clark and the Green Party? Does it have anything to do with their inability to also provide advice about designating Hamas as a terror organisation?”
As well as UNRWA staff participating, there is evidence that UNRWA staff glorified the October 07 pogrom in which more than 1,200 Israelis were brutally murdered and more than 250 were taken hostage. A Telegram group of thousands of UNRWA teachers contains posts celebrating the massacre, praising the murderers and rapists as “heroes”. This is similar to the education provided in UNRWA schools, says Dr Cumin,
“Decades of evidence shows that textbooks used in UNRWA schools contain egregious antisemitism and glorify violence. There is a whole section in one book, for example, that praises the terrorist who led the Coastal Road massacre in which 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children, were murdered.
UNRWA has also created its own materials for schools that glorify terror. This is a systemic issue that our officials simply refuse to acknowledge.
And there is a long history of UNRWA staff being exposed for inciting violence and spreading egregious racism on social media.
Thus, these latest revelations should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the issues.
We must pause our funding until there are assurances that we are not perpetuating the conflict or creating the next generation of terrorists.”
The Israel Institute of New Zealand has raised these issues, and that of corruption within UNRWA, for many years. The Human Rights Commission has also expressed concern that the practice may be a breach of New Zealand’s international human rights obligations. Dr Cumin says that Foreign Minister Peters should take a stand against funding hate.
“MFAT officials never even briefed Ministers until the Israel Institute of New Zealand put public pressure on them. Minster Mahuta was the first minister to be briefed about the issues. She didn’t seem to mind sending our taxes to schools that glorify terror. Minister Peters may have a different view of the practice – his actions will show us if that’s true or not.”
He says the Palestinians deserve better.
“The Arab Palestinians clearly need aid. But that should be provided as it is for people in need elsewhere around the world – not by an agency that has so clearly shown it is incapable of upholding the stated values of the United Nations.
New Zealand’s complicity in supporting the hate also makes a mockery of our government’s rhetoric condemning hate and racism.”