July 16, 2019

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J-Street lies for @UNRWA – and says that Palestinians have a "right to return"


J-Street has a “Myths and Facts” page about UNRWA where they deliberately switch the myths and the facts.

Once again, the “pro-Israel” J-Street can find nothing bad to say about an organization that teaches its students that they must remain stateless until they “return” to destroy Israel.

Their “myths and facts” could have been written by UNRWA itself, and I think there is a good chance that this was in fact the case.

Literally everything they say in the first section is a lie:

“UNRWA applies a unique standard to refugees, making refugees of their descendants”

A more accurate way of saying what J-Street considers a “myth” would be to re-word it ““UNRWA applies a unique standard to Palestinians,  automatically giving refugee status to their descendants with no mechanism to remove them from that status forever.”

Here are J-Street’s/UNRWA’s responses:

● Palestinian refugees are not distinct from other protracted refugee situations in this regard. Under international law, the children of refugees, whether or not the parents are stateless or lacking citizenship in another country, are also considered refugees.

Wrong. Children of refugees under UNHCR have “derivative” status and are absolutely not considered refugees.

● In fact, the majority of the world’s refugees live in protracted refugee situations. UNHCR also registers descending generational refugees including those from: Afghanistan, Angola, Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, Congo/DRC, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Tibet and Western Sahara.

Half-truth. The derivative status is not automatically inherited. And if the parent is no longer classified as a refugee according to UNHCR’s many cessation clauses, the children lose that status as well. Refugees are re-evaluated under UNHCR’s procedures – but UNRWA has no means to take a refugee off its rolls of “registered Palestine refugees.”

● The principle of family unity and keeping families united and together is the reason that refugee parents provide refugee status to their children.

And this should happen automatically, forever? It sure doesn’t for any other refugee situation in the world.

● In fact, UNRWA’s definition of a Palestinian refugee is narrower than UNHCR’s definition of a refugee. Under UNHCR’s definition, both women and men can pass on refugee status to their descendants, whereas only male refugees can pass on their status as refugees under UNRWA’s definition. Under UNHCR’s definition, many more Palestinians, located all over the world, would qualify as refugees.

That is complete garbage. Under UNHCR’s definition, none of the Palestinians who live in the West Bank or Gaza or most of them in Jordan would be considered refugees, and none of the rest would be considered refugees either unless they are over 70 years old. 

● UNRWA’s refugee definition is determined only by the UN General Assembly and cannot be changed by UNRWA.

Again, this is a lie. The UNRWA definition is an “operational definition” of refugee to determine who gets aid. UNRWA alone decided on this definition, not the UN General Assembly.

Later in the document, J-Street says:

The “right of return” is a fundamental, internationally-recognized human right afforded to ALL refugees everywhere.

Even if this is true, as we have shown nearly none of the UNRWA “refugees” are real refugees. Descendants do not have an automatic right to return. Even the UNGA resolution that is the source for the Palestinian “right to return” does not say this as being automatic – they can accept compensation, they can be integrated into neighboring countries, and the ones who would be allowed to “return” at the time it was written would have had to accept Israel.
There’s lots more in J-Street’s list of myths, but it is obvious that an organization that states flatly that over 5 million Palestinians have a “right” to “return” to destroy Israel is not a pro-Israel organization.

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