UN Watch’s call on U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power to take action after UNRWA tried to use Christmas for partisan political ends has been widely shared on Facebook and featured in the following Algemeiner media report.
Above: Chris Gunness of UNRWA issued a demand that BBC use the words “Israeli occupation” in its news coverage of Christmas in Bethlehem.
December 25, 2015 — Geneva-based watchdog UN Watch, which monitors the United Nations, on Friday called for disciplinary action against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and its spokesperson after the latter demanded the BBC use the words “Israeli Occupation” in its news coverage of Christmas in Bethlehem.
The group called on U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power to “take remedial measures against UNRWA and its spokesman Chris Gunness for engaging in partisan advocacy— breaching its neutrality promise under the 2015 UNRWA-U.S. Framework for Cooperation.”
The watchdog said Ambassador Power should also condemn UNRWA for violating UN resolutions that require the agency to provide humanitarian services in line with the principles of “neutrality and impartiality.”
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness made the demand on Thursday on Twitter, claiming an “amazing lack of context” in the BBC report, and alleging that it “needs correction.”
UN Watch blasted spokesman Gunness, saying he “notably did not ask BBC to mention murder, persecution and ethnic cleansing of Christians in Palestinian areas and throughout the Middle East, as documented before the UN in compelling testimony by Father Gabriel Naddaf, who noted that ‘Israel is the only Mideast country not persecuting Christians.’”
The watchdog said its statement was part of a sustained effort to hold UNRWA accountable for its anti-Israel advocacy.
In October, the group released a report documenting at least 10 different UN staffers who used social media to incite racial hatred, antisemitism, and Palestinian stabbing and shooting attacks against Israeli Jews.
That same month UNRWA admitted that “in a number of cases” its employees were subjected to disciplinary action, and several were suspended.
UN Watch’s Campaign to Hold UNRWA to Account
Below: Facebook post by a teacher at an UNRWA school in Gaza.
UN Admits: UNRWA Employees Suspended
In October, in an unprecedented acknowledgment of wrongdoing, UNRWA—after first urging journalists to ignore UN Watch reports of incitement—was forced to suspend several employees.
This followed a sustained UN Watch campaign that included three reports published from September to November documenting how UNRWA teachers and principals incited to racial hatred, anti-Semitism and terrorism on social media. In total, UN Watch identified more than 30 separate perpetrators, and launched petitions online to key governments.
UNRWA’s Chris Gunness Attacks UN Watch
The first reaction by UNRWA was for spokesman Chris Gunness to attack UN Watch. On Twitter, he issued an “appeal to journalists”:
Pressure Mounts: UNRWA Is Forced to Take Disciplinary Action
After media agencies picked up the story and governments raised UN Watch findings with UNRWA leadership, the UN in October admitted that UNRWA employees “in a number of cases” were subjected to disciplinary action, including suspension and loss of pay, following an internal investigation.
UN Watch welcomed the news, yet demanded to know which of the UNRWA teachers identified in our reports were suspended, what were the findings, and whether the UN investigations found any additional incitement to anti-Semitic violence.
Floor of the U.S. Congress: UNRWA Condemned, UN Watch Thanked
On October 28, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, took the floor in the U.S. Congress:
“Just last week, the U.N. quietly suspended several individuals after allegations of incitement were brought forth from the NGO U.N. Watch. And we thank U.N. Watch for carefully looking over this organization… These allegations, Mr. Speaker, are just the tip of the iceberg. We must not continue to send taxpayer dollars to UNRWA [and] to individuals tied to the terror group Hamas in violation of our laws.”
“UN Staff Celebrate Deaths of Israelis” — Sunday Times Headline
Quoting UN Watch, the Sunday Times of London, one of the world’s leading newspapers, reported in October that “Facebook posts by UN staff have included photographs showing blood-drenched knives held by Palestinian men and women in keffiyeh scarves, throwing stones at Israel’s defence forces.”
“UN Relief Agency Fosters Hate” — Boston Herald Headline
A December op-ed in the Boston Herald, by prominent attorney Jeffrey S. Robbins, a former U.S. delegate to the UN, was equally strong: “UN Watch documented how school principals, teachers and other staffers on the payroll of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, use social media to incite deadly attacks against ‘Jewish apes and pigs,’ urging Palestinians to murder Israelis. Its institutions have become schools for genocide, where students and the broader community are urged to kill.”