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A Un Agency Suddenly Discovers Its Own Virtue

The United Nations Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA) has kept the displaced persons of the failed Arab assault on new born Israel in servitude for six decades. It is the servitude of refugee status. 

Now, people who have been moved a few miles from their original homes are simply not refugees. And that is precisely where most of the Palestinians hovered together after 1948, moving at most ten miles east, some much less, a few a bit more. That is, to the Jordanian-occupied West Bank which became their place of residence, and they lived among hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians in what was, after all, also part of historic Palestine. As was Jordan proper on the east bank of the river. Some went south to Gaza which was also part of Palestine (but ruled by Egypt since 1949), along with native Palestinians already living there for many generations. But almost no one thought of himself as a Palestinian. (No one, although Edward Said's over-privileged Christian family moved from Jerusalem to Cairo before the war and there discovered Palestine and Palestinianism, surely as a protection against the Muslim essence of the Arab resistance to a Jewish polity in the region that would, as it has turned out, include the people of the Cross as their enemies.)

And, by the way, almost no one thought himself Jordanian or Lebanese or Syrian either. The cartography of the area was Ottoman as in Ottoman Empire, variously divided into sanjaks, according to the convenience of the sultan. The maps with the new nomenclature of three independent states emerged only long after he had fallen and deep into the years of the disintegrating League of Nations. In Palestine, the only people who thought themselves in some way Palestinians were the Jews who were already a historic people. Which, alas, is not yet the case for the Arabs of Palestine. In her famous and oft-maligned June 1969 statement denying the existence of a Palestinian nation, Golda Meir was actually correct, as we are seeing right now in, O.K., I'll call it Palestine. I, too, want a Palestinian state for the Palestinians in Palestine. If only they'd done something about it when they had more territory, assigned to them by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947, than will ever be allotted to them now and half of Jerusalem, besides. Of course, it wasn't quite their territory for long. The West Bank was annexed, as I wrote above, an ignored but intrinsic part of Jordan. Gaza was an Egyptian prison. 

The surrounding Arab states and UNRHA cooperated for decades and under twelve commissioners-general in assuring that the displaced Palestinians fester to become a permanent force aimed at reversing history and eliminating Israel.  Maybe some idealists around UNRWA (and I knew one of its heads very well and he was both idealistic and inventive) imagined that this endless support would somehow transform the so-called refugees into productive citizens of what was supposed to be Arab Palestine. But this was not to be.

Along the desolating way, UNRWA became complicit with nearly each and every Palestinian terrorist organization.  Its staffs were honeycombed with liberation fronters of one sort or another, comrades of the terrorists in the Arafat command and, of late, with the religious fanatics of Hamas.

Then, last week, suddenly UNRWA discovered its own virtue. Hamas, it said altogether believably, had hijacked UNRWA relief supplies away from the distressed of Gaza and took these as its own.  One of these operations involved 200 tons of blankets and food. The organization announced that it would cease further deliveries which, of course, is a confession of its incapacity to deal with Palestinian thugs. You can read about this in two tiny, really tiny, stories, one by Ethan Bronner in Saturday's Times and another in an A.P. dispatch in the same day's Boston Globe

But this should be a big and important story because it comports with other revelations by Israeli authorities about heists of material by terrorist groups from other relief sources, usually discounted.