UNRWA: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency For Palestinian Refugees
One year ago, Gazan senior UNRWA official Chris Gunness wrote an opinion piece entitled “Let Gaza’s Kids Be Kids” that appeared in the Jerusalem Post. A few days later, my response to Gunness appeared in the same paper. In that response, I noted that what Gunness had written was “blatant in its subtext of Palestinian victimhood.”
Yesterday UNRWA and Gunness were at it again.
The following story ran on the Bernama Malaysian News Agency site. Note how the writer of the article intertwines the myth of Palestinian victimhood with the comments of UNRWA officials:
Gazan Children Attempt World Record Amid Blockade
By Saleh Jadallah
GAZA STRIP, July 22 (Bernama) — About 5,000 Palestinian children attempted a world record at hand-printing on a huge cloth measuring 5,400 square meters, as part of the summer camp activities sponsored by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA).
Subtext: The only summer activities that Gazan children have are those sponsored by the benevolently paternalistic UNRWA. By the way, what about those Hamas summer camps that teach children to be terrorists and suicide bombers?
Clad in shirts with “UNRWA Summer Games” written on them, the children rallied at a stadium in Khan Younis refugee camp to display their hand-prints while playing and having fun, in an effort to overcome the unfavourable circumstances in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Subtext: UNRWA wants to be sure that the children know who is letting them play and have fun in their completely closed, Israeli-restricted environment. By the way, isn’t the Egyptian border open now? Doesn’t Israel allow thousands of tons of material into Gaza through its border?
UNRWA stages numerous summer camps, offering amusement and cultural activities for about 250,000 Palestinian children in an attempt to help them surmount the trauma and psychological stress they are highly exposed to due to the blockade and frequent air and land attacks by Israel.
Subtext: Not only are the poor Gazan children physically blockaded they cannot (without the help of the UNRWA summer camps) overcome the mental trauma engendered by Israel’s nonstop air and land attacks. By the way, how many years ago did Israeli troops last enter Gaza? Isn’t the only time Israeli planes attack Gazan smuggling tunnels after Hamas terrorists fire rockets into Israel?
The UNRWA’s acting director of operations in Gaza Strip, Christer Nordahl, praised the Palestinian children for their abilities and skills, and noted that Gazan children deserved to be number one at the top of the world.
Subtext: Gazan children deserve to be number one because they are victims. By the way, isn’t there some logical disconnect here: what about all the children living in southern Israel who are constantly under Hamas rocket attack–and are forced to sometimes live and go to school in bomb shelters? Doesn’t UNRWA’s reasoning mean that they deserve to be number one?
“I have no doubt that the children of Gaza will succeed as they always do when given the chance,” said Nordahl.
Subtext: As victims, Gazan children are never given a chance to succeed–except by the benevolently paternalistic UNRWA. By the way, this doesn’t say much for Palestinian parenting skills.
Amal Abed Al-Wahed, a UNRWA summer camp supervisor, said that the Palestinian children proved their creativity by making a remarkable success of the few opportunities they had.
Subtext: Gazan children are victims who receive few opportunities because of those nasty Israelis.
Praising their tenacity, Amal pointed out that hundreds of children, whose relatives or friends were killed by Israel, had joined the summer camp activities.
Subtext: Gazan children are victims because hundreds! of them have relatives or friends (read: Israel is killing children) killed by Israel. By the way, isn’t this a rephrasing of the centuries old anti-Semitic canard that Jews kill children for various nefarious reasons?
“We are trying our best to make our children enjoy their time during their school holidays. We want to convey a message to the world that Palestinian children are ingenious,” the female supervisor said.
Subtext: It is only through the benevolently paternalistic UNRWA that the Gazan childrens’ ingenuity can be displayed.
Student Sayed Nabhan, 13, was happy to take part with his friends in the hand-printing exercise. He believed that such innovative work would attract the attention of the world towards the Gazan children. “We need the world to care about us. The children here deserve to be rewarded, not to be punished,” Sayed voiced.
Subtext: The world needs to give more money to UNRWA. Note that the 13 year old has been taught by UNRWA that he ‘deserves’ to be rewarded because he is being punished by Israel. And, he has been taught that the world doesn’t care about him or his friends–only the benevolent parent, UNRWA, cares .
In similar activities, thousands of children in the narrow enclave attempted to break world records at playing football and flying parachutes early this month. They are due to attempt another world record at flying kites by the end of July.
Subtext: Gazan children live in such a limited space that it’s almost impossible to play football or fly parachutes and kites.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said that about three quarters of a million children in the barricaded Gaza suffered from a collective punishment.
Subtext: This is what the 13 year old has learned from UNRWA. Like bad parents, Israelis are collectively ‘punishing’ 750,000 children.
According to the statistics centre in Gaza Strip, 50 per cent of the Gaza population is under 18 years of age.
Subtext: Like children, Gazan Palestinians are unable to control themselves. They just can’t stop having babies.
“The blockade must end, and there should be full accountability for the breach of international law,” Gunness observed.
Subtext: Israel is in violation of all international law. Again, what about the hundreds of rockets and missiles fired by the fathers and brothers (and probably mothers and sisters as well) at Israeli civilians in southern Israel–included more than 10 in the last week? What about the Palmer Report that is due out at any moment that says that Israel has every legal right to stop ships coming into Gaza?
I end this blog with the same way I ended my response to the Jerusalem Post a year ago:
For Gunness and UNRWA, image is everything. UNRWA has notoriously promoted such destructive images of children worldwide in order to inflate its own importance by perpetuating the victimhood of the world’s “oppressed”. I posit that the children of Gaza will never have a semblance of self-respect or normality until their parents discard the crutch of “relief” organizations like UNRWA and teach their children dignity and civility.