Something is not rotten at the UN; everything is rotten at the UN.
After United Nations officials tried to pass off as a few bad apples the dozen or so UNRWA employees found to have participated in the Oct. 7 attacks, the Wall Street Journal comes out with a report that “10% of all of its Gaza staff have ties to Islamist militant groups, according to intelligence reports.”
Turns out there aren’t a great many good apples.
As I wrote on Friday, next to the Gaza war itself, the most important story about the conflict is the corruption of international institutions. There’s a corollary to this: After Oct. 7, institutions should be judged by how much of their behavior is governed by what we’ve learned since the attacks. There is absolutely no going back to the pre-10/7 world, and Mideast or Mideast-adjacent governments and organizations must be held to that standard.
Some details from the intel report viewed by the Journal: “Intelligence estimates shared with the U.S. conclude that around 1,200 of Unrwa’s roughly 12,000 employees in Gaza have links to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and about half have close relatives who belong to the Islamist militant groups.”
But here’s the true kicker: “Two officials familiar with the intelligence said the Unrwa employees considered to have ties with militant groups were deemed to be ‘operatives,’ indicating they took active part in the organization’s military or political framework. The report said 23% of Unrwa’s male employees had ties to Hamas, a higher percentage than the average of 15% for adult males in Gaza, indicating a higher politicization of the agency than the population at large.”
To repeat that last stat: Men in Gaza who work for the UN are more likely to be involved with Hamas than those who don’t have jobs at the UN agency.
A quarter of UNRWA’s male staff have taken part in Hamas’s “military or political framework.” A quarter!
Several Western countries paused additional funding for the agency in the wake of the allegations, but that is far from sufficient. The problems at UNRWA have long been known, but the larger problem for its defenders is that the agency’s budgeting structure hid all of its corruption and violence in plain sight.
This morning, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the leader of an unceasingly anti-Zionist faction of Democratic representatives, tweeted that it was “unacceptable” to reduce aid to UNRWA in the wake of the initial allegations. But by the time she’d tweeted, the number of “bad apples” in UNRWA had gone from 12 to 1,200. Whether out of genuine ignorance or dishonesty, UNRWA’s defenders have already lost the argument on their own terms.
But this kind of spin is also just plain silly. Here is how the UN spends UNRWA’s budget, according to UNRWA itself: Health-related programs get a mere 15 percent; social services, infrastructure, support service each get even less. The majority of the budget, 58 percent, goes to “education.” As has been thoroughly documented, the education part of those schools is dedicated to incitement and medieval Jew-hatred. The buildings themselves are put to use storing weapons—including during wartime, when that would put anybody in the building or its vicinity in danger. Hamas has built its terror tunnels underneath the schools, with entrances sometimes in the school building or nearby.
It should be no surprise, then, that a majority of the UNRWA employees charged with participating in the Oct. 7 slaughter were teachers. The schooling system that eats up most of the UNRWA budget is a slush fund for a Hamas farm team. Now that this is out in the open, and all plausible deniability has been incinerated, of course funding should be stopped and routed through some other organization or authority with no connection to the UN.
UNRWA is a vehicle for Hamas to steal the majority of money donated globally for Palestinian relief. Anyone who wants to see Palestinians suffer will continue to advocate for funding UNRWA. Everyone who wants to solve, rather than perpetuate, the conflict must sideline UNRWA’s radicalization factory.