UNRWA Funding Suspension: Legally Absurd, Genocidal in ConsequencesBy Doug Mallouk
To the Editor:
If one were consciously intending to kill untold numbers of Palestinians, it’s hard to imagine a more efficient tactic than suspending funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which delivers the paltry amount of food, water, and medicine that Gaza’s tormentors deign to allocate. The decision by the Biden Administration and seventeen other Western-aligned governments to do just that, imparts to their hands a bloodstain that no amount of soap could ever cleanse.
Even more astounding is the pseudo-legal pretext for this atrocity. On the very day that the International Court of Justice found the charge of Israeli genocide to be “plausible”, the defendants alleged that some 12 UNRWA employees (out of thousands) had participated in the October 7th massacre. Later this was embellished to accuse about 10% of the agency’s workforce of having had contact with Hamas.
This would be laughable were the consequences not so dire. First, these are unvetted, unproven assertions, coming from an Israeli government that has repeatedly presented evidence-free (sometimes wholly-fabricated) claims of beheaded babies, gored pregnant women, and the like. Yet based on that foundation of sand, Western governments literally rushed to judgment, showing near-zero concern for the genocidal implications of their move. It would not be unfair in the slightest to characterize their response as: Starve Now, Investigate Later.
Second, it is intentional obfuscation to contend that any contact with Hamas is ipso facto criminal. Thanks in no small part to Israeli support extending back decades, Hamas is the governing party in Gaza. Any welfare-relief efforts in that land must partner with them. In that strictly-limited sense, it’s no different in principle than working with the Democratic Party to get things done in Chicago. Instead of bristling at that comparison, Israeli apologists would do better to explain why PM Netanyahu and his predecessors funded Hamas so lavishly over the years.
Finally, even if it turned out that a dozen UNRWA workers had actual terrorist pedigrees, the solution is simple: fire them! UNRWA Director Philippe Lazzarini has pledged to do precisely that, immediately upon receipt of credible evidence backing the allegations. But, for God’s sake, don’t strangle an organization whose fragile existence has become a matter of life and death for millions of Gazans.
Current Western policy sends a clear message: “Fighting Hamas is just a pretext. Our true goal is ethnic cleansing and depopulation. “
Sincerely, Doug Mallouk