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UNRWA student. Photo screenshot YouTube David Bedein

UN Watch is “extremely troubled” over Canada’s continued funding of UNRWA

On April 9, 2017, UN Watch, an independent NGO which monitors the United Nations, submitted a formal letter to Prime Minister Trudeau together with a new report which exposes 60 new cases of teachers, principals and other employees of Hamas-tied United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) publicly endorsing radical Islamic terrorism, praising Hitler and calling for the murder of Jews.

In the letter, executive director Hillel Neuer writes that UN Watch is “extremely troubled” that Canada would fund schools that “knowingly employ exponents of racism and terrorism”, calls on Canada to stand by its commitment to exercise stringent oversight of Canadian taxpayer dollars which fund the organization and requests that Canada demand the immediate termination of all UNRWA personnel who are found to be preaching anti-Semitism or incitement to murder and genocide.

On November 16, 2016, the Liberals announced that Canada is restoring $25 million in annual funding to UNRWA, which was halted by the previous Conservative government in part over its documented ties to Hamas, an Islamic jihadist group designated as a terrorist organization by Public Safety Canada since 2002.

The announcement that the Trudeau government has decided to resume funding to a Hamas-linked organization was harshly criticized by Conservatives MPs as well as Canadian Jewish leaders, who demanded that before releasing any Canadian taxpayers’ funds, the Canadian government should provide evidence that the funds will not be used by UNRWA to promote incitement to terrorism and that the organization will abide by Canadian values and expectations as it relates to human rights.

Official Opposition Critic for International Development MP Dean Allison slammed the Liberals for “risking Canadian tax dollars falling into the hands of terrorists. This has happened before with UNRWA, and the risk of it happening again is too great for the government to take.”

“To turn over $25 million in aid to an agency that has supported the Palestinian Authority’s sustained campaign to rewrite Judeo-Christian history, incite violence, and delegitimize the State of Israel shows a lack of accountability for Canadian taxpayer dollars,” said CEO of B’nai Brith of Canada Michael Mostyn at that time.

However, according to a new UN Watch report called “Enhanced Due Diligence? An Examination of Canada’s Pledge to stop UNRWA’s teachers from inciting Jihadist terrorism and anti-Semitism” released on April 9, 2017, documents obtained under the Access to Information Act revealed that by the time the Liberals made the announcement to restore UNRWA’s $25 million a year funding, the money had already been transferred to the organization and that during the week between the transfer and the public announcement, the Liberals were engaged in “extensive internal strategizing” on how to best present the funding decision to the Canadian public despite the well-founded concerns about UNRWA’s ties to Hamas.

The report also claims that the Trudeau government glossed over specific allegations of UNRWA by claiming that they were “unfounded”, “unsubstantiated” or had been addressed, but without offering any evidence of how and when they were addressed.

When announcing the funding, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development that the Government of Canada, went out of her way to reassure the Canadian public that there will be enhanced due diligence applied to UNRWA, which will be accompanied by a “very robust oversight and reporting framework, which includes regular site visits and strong anti-terrorism provisions”.

In spite of Bibeau’s reassurance, the new UN Watch report documents 60 new cases of UNRWA staffers promoting racial hatred and incitement to terrorism, in addition to 30 examples exposed last year, and says that UNRWA continues to hire and employ these types of individuals, which renders it complicit in the staff misconduct.

The report also provides examples of incitement, including Facebook posts by an UNRWA school in Lebanon celebrating knife attacks against Israeli civilians, a Lebanese UNRWA teacher posting an image of a dog urinating on an Israeli flag, and a Syrian UNRWA teacher glorifying terrorist attacks against Israelis.

UN Watch is calling on Canada, which is not doing enough to ensure that UNRWA lives up to its obligation as a neutral UN organization, to implement a zero-tolerance policy for public displays of anti-Semitism and support for terrorism.

The following is an excerpt from the latest debate in parliament on UNRWA on April 12, 2017:

MP Peter Kent (Thornhill, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, our Russian friends just vetoed a UN Security Council resolution against Syria. Yesterday, the international development minister tried to justify the misguided restoration of education funding to the hate-infected UN Relief and Works Agency with an undated quote of an Israeli general. She seems unaware that the general’s boss, defence minister Lieberman, has just asked the United States to stop funding UNRWA because it continues to teach hate and demonize Israel. Can the Liberals not find another way to deliver aid?

PM Justin Trudeau:

Mr. Speaker, we believe that constructive engagement on the world stage is what Canadians expect. Our re-engagement with UNRWA is actually allowing us to hold to closer account the choices and the funding that is delivered through that mechanism. We know that Canadian pressure and Canada being part of UNRWA allow us to ensure that the help is going to where it is needed and it is not creating negative consequences for Israel or for anyone else.

See also: Trudeau’s guest of honour Malala Yousufzai donated $50,000 to Hamas-linked UN agency – click HERE

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About Ilana Shneider

Ilana Shneider
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]

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