Thursday, November 15, 2012

More UNRWA Cheerleading on the HP

The only thing the Huffington Post likes to do more than bash Israel in any way that they can is praise anything related to the Palestinians. Notice I say the Palestinians, and not the Arab or Muslims. The Huffington Post has very little praise for countries like Saudi Arabia or Iran, leaving one to wonder why they love the Palestinians so much. It's not like they respect human rights or international law any more than the aforementioned theocracies.

Anyway, this time around they are following in well tread ground by praising UNRWA. Yes, the same UNRWA that keeps the Palestinians stuck in refugee camps and incentivizes them to keep this conflict going forever. The article authors, Batoul Abuharb and Cherie Fathy, want us to remember the "successes" of UNRWA, so let's see if they can convince me that the whole thing isn't a big waste of money. But first they needed to rehash the whole question of who is a Palestinian refugee. You remember, that discussion that was happening last year? They don't touch on it for two long before defending UNRWA:
"In 1950, when UNRWA was first created, the infant mortality rate (IMR) for Palestine refugees stood at a staggering 160 deaths per thousand live births. In 2005-06 that rate dropped to 21.8 deaths....An article published in 2004 by the Center for Research on Population and Health in Lebanon actually found that Palestine refugees have a "clear advantage" in comparison to their non-refugee counterparts when it comes to mortality rates. UNRWA must be doing something right."
Great! And now that you have improved the health of the Palestinians, you can stop. If anything the article about Lebanon works against your argument: the goal of UN agencies isn't to give the Palestinians an unfair advantage over other people. There are children dying in Somalia who need your resources far more than the Palestinians. The Palestinian territories are easily in the upper half of IMR in comparison to the rest of the world. They don't need UNRWA's help, and it's time to disband it. Care to try again?
"The organization manages to run a unique primary health care system that provides free, continuous care to refugees. The high-quality, long-term health care it provides surpasses what is available in most developing nations....[details followUNRWA has also succeeded at providing a comfortable environment for couples to discuss family planning options with a medical provider. More than 137,000 couples are enrolled in the clinics for these services and studies have shown that the use of modern contraceptives is actually on the rise."
With those kind of advantages, why on earth would the Palestinians ever want to stop being refugees and have to pay for it themselves? Of course, this is exactly the kind of thing that the authors don't want you to be thinking about. Unfortunately for people who are running a refugee agency, they are caught in a catch-22: They need to prove that UNRWA has a reason to exist (besides teaching things other than the Holocaust) so they have to show us that our money is being used effectively. But the goal of refugee services is to keep refugees alive and repatriate them, not to discuss modern family planning. If 99.99% of the refugees on this earth don't get all of these special advantages like free healthcare and and contraceptives, why are the Palestinians entitled to such things? That's exactly what these authors don't want us to know.

The reality, of course, is that UNRWA has way overstepped its boundaries and has now become a self-perpetuating bureaucracy that has become irreparably entangled with Palestinian society. Palestinians are taught by other Palestinians in UNRWA schools (guess who pays for that) and even get free food and houses. Presumably the authors don't mention this part because even Huffington Post readership might start wondering why a supposed refugee agency has become the stewards of Palestinian society at the cost of American taxpayer dollars. Hang on, they aren't finished yet though. Let's see if they can impress me.
"For people already living in extreme poverty, tacking on additional healthcare expenses is inconceivable. Adding on user fees to essential services like preventative care and vaccinations forces families to prioritize other basic necessities like food and housing over health care. UNRWA's health program enables refugees to tackle their medical issues before they become too expensive or too difficult to manage."
As we have discussed before, compared to the rest of the world the Palestinians have no idea what poverty is. Furthermore, at the risk of repeating myself it is not the responsibility of UN refugee agencies to provide preventative care. It is the responsibility of them to get refugees to stop being refugees and get them off the doll. UNRWA, on the other hand, has done the exact opposite. It has done nothing but encourage the Palestinians to stay refugees forever and has shown not the slightest willingness in moving on to other starving children elsewhere in the world.

You might also notice how the authors have slickly avoided talking about the "who is a refugee" question. If they were functioning the way a real refugee agency is supposed to they would know that 95% of the Palestinians alive today aren't refugees and therefore aren't entitled to jack. But if there were no entitled Palestinians, then there would be no UNRWA and all those UN workers would need to find other jobs. And America would get to keep their money.

I say to the authors what I say to everyone who discusses UNRWA. If you want the truth, watch this video:

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