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Dear Congress Member:

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, the renewal of $150 million in U.S. assistance for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). He also announced $75 million for economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority to be used for development in the West Bank and Gaza and $10 million for peace-building programs to be carried out by the United States Agency for International Development. The total is over a quarter of a billion US dollars.

Secretary of State Blinken tweeted: “We are pleased to announce the resumption of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian people. It will provide important humanitarian relief and promote regional prosperity and stability while advancing Americanvalues and interests.”

To which Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum of Jerusalem replied:

“You are taking us further away from peace and not closer to it by funding unconditionally an organization that educates children to hate and that the best they can hope from life is to martyr themselves for their “cause”; the destruction of #israel.”

Of course, that is exactly the point – there is nothing wrong with funding the education of Palestinian children if UNRWA reforms its curriculum and stops hiring members of Hamas as teachers.  BUT it is a terrible mistake to just hand money to UNRWA to perpetuate the promotion of murder, martyrdom and jihad and to train young child soldiers. The Biden administration had a lot of potential leverage and failed to use it. This is a betrayal of both American taxpayers and Palestinian children.   

Deputy Mayor Hassan-Nahoum and others have said that the education of children in UNRWA schools does not provide them with language and technical skills essential to earning a living, but rather trains them for a War of Return which UNRWA books describe as a way to drive out all the Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.  Certainly, it is not unreasonable for the US to condition its aid on reform of this disastrous education!

In response to the U.S. decision to restore funding for UNRWA, Israeli Ambassador to the UN and to the United States Gilad Erdan said, “Israel is strongly opposed to the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity happening in UNRWA’s facilities. We believe that this UN agency for so-called ‘refugees’ should not exist in its current format. UNRWA schools regularly use materials that incite against Israel.”

The Foreign Ministry of Israel commented: “Israel’s position is that the organization in its current form perpetuates the conflict and does not contribute to its resolution.”

The statement said that the resumption of aid to UNRWA should have been conditioned on reform, especially the education and training of child soldiers provided by UNRWA. Currently, students learn little besides incitement and plans for a War of Return.  Martyrdom is glorified and death by jihad is promoted. 

As for the money being paid to the PA, President Biden’s assurance that the money will not be used for “pay for slay” is unrealistic; money is fungible and the PA has declared that funding terrorists who have killed Jews is a very high priority.  Several years ago, after the passage of the Taylor Force Act, the US Congress cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority because of their leadership’s declared intent that this money would be used to reward Palestinians who had murdered Jews with lifetime pensions. 

It remains unclear to us how this money can be so badly misused and in apparent violation of at least two US statutes*.  A quarter of a billion US dollars could feed a lot of hungry American children and pay for their education as well. We hope that you and your colleagues will speak out against this use of US funds and include here the comments of Nikki Haley:

“The Palestinian aid agency, UNRWA, is among the most corrupt and counterproductive of all UN agencies.  President Trump was right to abandon it.  President Biden is wasting millions of American tax dollars and undermining the great progress made on Middle East peace.”

Sincerely yours,

Joan Lurie and Ellen Fawer, co-chairs of UNRWA: Stop Teaching Hate

*The Taylor Force Act of 2018 and the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (PATA), which became law that December. President Biden was an original co-sponsor of the latter legislation.

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