Cutting through the bullshit.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Principles at stake

UNRWA must have read my post last Sunday, because, according to Ron Kampeas, they resumed distributing aid in Gaza on Monday. Now, UNRWA’s former chief legal counsel, James Lindsay, has prepared a critique for WINEP (Washington Institute for Near East Policy) – a den of hasbarists founded by Martin Indyk and boasting on its advisor board, Edward Luttwak, Richard Perle, George P. Shultz, and R. James Woolsey, among others – calling UNRWA ‘part of the problem’. Apparently UNRWA ‘allows itself to be politicized by the Palestinians’. According to Kampeas, ‘He noted instances in which UNRWA did not immediately condemn Hamas rocket fire into Israel.’


In the U.S. Congress, Reps. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are reviving their campaign to cut U.S. funds to UNRWA until it comes clean about what the lawmakers say are its irregularities and its coziness with terrorists. The United States provides between a fifth and a quarter of UNRWA's $440 million to $540 million annual budget.

It seems that there are allegations that UNRWA may have employed members of Hamas, even though they have adopted a ‘practice of periodically running staff names through Israel's intelligence services and summarily removing staffers with suspected terrorist ties’.

Rothman and Kirk have also approached the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to write to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suggesting she cut funding ‘until a U.S. review of the agency is completed’ instead providing aid through ‘bilateral assistance mechanisms’.

The beauty of bilateral aid is that it’s a good way to dump your agricultural surplus. Aid agencies also approve projects that require the recipient to retain the services of a service provider in the donor country, typically at a net cost to the ‘beneficiary’. Approval of projects requires – I kid you not – pre-feasibility studies, feasibility assessments, semiannual evaluations, post project monitoring, etc., providing a goldmine for donor country ‘consultants’.

Kirk is scandalized because

"It's against U.S. law to have U.S. taxpayer dollars flow to a terrorist organization," he said. "During the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it is unacceptable that an organization receiving U.S. financial aid should not be required to be accountable for every dollar it receives."

"There are basic principles at stake here," Kirk said. "The spending of U.S. taxpayer funds should be transparent and accountable, and bad activities should have consequences."

It goes without saying that basic principles don’t apply in the case of the no strings attached US$3 billion per annum in military aid to Israel, the Arms Export Control Act notwithstanding. Considering his profound concern for accountability, you may be astonished to learn that Mark Kirk was not among the five Illinois Republicans who voted against Bush’s $700 billion bank bailout.


  1. $3 per annum to israel for military aid?

  2. Well spotted, Anonymous, thanks. I'll fix it.