UPDATE 10 pm Israel time Wednesday:
The last three hours in southern Israel have seen a lovely late Spring night spent in bomb shelters. At 7:49 pm, there was an incoming Palestinian terrorist rocket siren for Ashkelon. At 7:58 pm, either Grad or Qassam rockets struck the Ashkelon cemetery. At 8:36 pm, more incoming terrorist rocket sirens were heard in the Chof Ashkelon and Lachish regions. At 8:41 pm, an incoming terrorist rocket siren sent men, women, and children running to bomb shelters in the Eshkol region.
UPDATE 7 pm Israel time Wednesday:
It has been a tough day in Israel with increasing protests by Jewish community members over the relocation of 5 apartment buildings in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El.
After the Knesset voted 69-22 against a law that would have made the unauthorized construction legal (Netanyahu had threatened to throw anyone who voted for the law out of his coalition), demonstrations have erupted around the country from those in Jerusalem outside the Knesset to attempts to block the main entrance into Jerusalem with burning tires.
Your humble servant has long felt that there are few agencies as abominable as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). In a constant bid to perpetuate its own existence, UNRWA does everything within its power to inflate the number of Palestinian refugees. Incredibly, UNRWA claims that the number of 1948 Palestinan “refugees” is rapidly increasing.
Enter American Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. Kirk recently proposed a simple amendment to a U.S. Senate appropriations bill that would require the U.S. Secretary of State to report:
1. how many Palestinians “served” by UNRWA actually left or fled their homes in Israel during the 1948 Israel War of Independence, and how many are merely “the descendants” of people who left.
2. how many Palestinians “served” by UNRWA are actually citizens of another country.
To Kirk, the logic of having this type of information was obvious. By exposing the “refugee myth”, Kirk pointed out: “in the end you will find a very manageable problem with practical solutions. This is a dramatic stop in what has been maybe the thorniest and most difficult challenge to Middle East peace.” More than this, Kirk also pointed out the U.S. Congress has an obligation to the American taxpayers who provide millions of dollars in funding to UNRWA to find out how UNRWA is spending American taxpayer money.
What could be more logical?
Nevertheless, Kirk’s proposed amendment has unleashed a firestorm of criticism from the Obama Administration, UNRWA, and Arabs everywhere.
Speaking for the Obama Administration, Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides wrote a letter to the Appropriations Committee, a letter which at the same time urged it to immediately reject Kirk’s amendment and propagated UNRWA’s Palestinian “refugee” myth: “UNRWA provides essential services for approximately 5 million Palestinian refugees. This proposed amendment would be viewed around the world as the United States acting to prejudge and determine the status of this sensitive issue for decades.”
Another State Department Official chimed in–agreeing with the absurd U.N. special designation of Palestinian “refugees” as including the descendants of “actual refugees”: “Our position has always been that the descendants of refugees have always had refugee status. Yes, these are in the second generation or third generation but are still considered refugees.”
The Arab response has been one of threats and outrage.
Ghaith Al-Omari, former Advisor to PLO Chief Mahmoud Abbas and currently affiliated with The American Task Force on Palestine, issued the following threat: “It’s very dangerous. It can have a very bad reaction on the ground.” Al-Omari continued: “It will just make any US ability to push for a responsible solution suspect in the eyes of the Palestinians and refugees in particular.”
Leila Hilal, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team on “refugees” and affiliated with the New American Foundation commented that “the U.S. Congress is engaging in a way and a place that it doesn’t belong.”
So what happened to the amendment? Despite the Obama Administration’s objections, it was approved by the Appropriations Committee and sent to the Senate floor–but Kirk was ridiculously forced to delete part 2 of his amendment in order to get the amendment out of committee. Before it can become law, it must be passed by the full Senate and by the House of Representatives, and signed by the President.
By the way, just how many “actual refugees” are there from 1948 under UNRWA supervision? According to one Palestinian researcher, the number is about 30,000–not the absurd UNRWA number of 5,000,000.
Think about that dear reader. The next time someone tells you that there are 5 million refugees–or that you read that there are 5 million refugees–remember that the number of actual refugees is about 30,000.