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JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



The work of Unwra


Amb. Philip C. Wilcox, Jr., 3 March 2011

Philip C. Wilcox, Jr. is President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, a Washington D.C.-based foundation devoted to fostering peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Wilcox retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 1997 after 31 years of service. He is also Acting Chairman of American Friends of UNRWA, which works for the advancement of Palestinian refugees through advocacy, education, and fundraising.

The historic popular uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East are forcing the United States, for the first time in decades, to recalibrate American priorities there. In the past, we have weighted our diplomacy and resources toward order and stability, often at the expense of our commitment to freedom, democracy and development. The events of recent weeks make clear that we must give higher priority to supporting more just and accountable political institutions and to unfulfilled human needs. If we don’t, the threat of violence and instability will surely grow.

One bright exception to our uncertain commitment to human development in the Middle East has been our strong support for UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), established in 1949. UNRWA’s mandate was to help meet basic needs of the 750,000 Palestinian refugees displaced in the 1948 war, pending peace and a resolution of the refugee crisis.

Today, UNRWA provides education, health care, vocational training, emergency relief and social services to 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Although these refugees remain one of the region’s most disadvantaged communities, UNRWA has helped Palestinians become one of the area’s best educated societies. Many thousands of graduates of UNRWA’s 700 schools, which now educate 500,000 students, have higher degrees and have distinguished themselves in science, medicine, business and academia around the world.

Since the 1960’s, girls have made up around half of UNRWA’s students. The agency also runs 10 vocational centers that teach entrepreneurial skills, 65 women’s centers, and 40 rehabilitation programs in the most distressed areas. Through UNRWA micro-lending Palestinian men and women have received 220,000 loans worth over $250 million to help them achieve dignity and self sufficiency.

UNRWA health clinics receive over 11 million visits a year. Between the mid-1960s and 2006, infant mortality among UNRWA-served populations fell from 16 to 2.2 percent, beating the target of the World Heath Organization for the Middle East.

Contrary to a popular notion, Palestinians served by UNRWA do not exist on relief, except in severe crises like the war in Gaza. Most are poor, but the majority have become self sufficient. UNRWA education, health and other services have brought hope, dignity, and an escape from the most dire poverty for millions of Palestinian refugees, and have helped create a vibrant, productive, aspiring community.

There are other misunderstandings about UNRWA: for example, the myth that UNRWA has perpetuated the Palestinian refugee problem by discouraging refugees from leading normal lives elsewhere. In fact, many refugees have left their camps and emigrated to other countries, but most lack such opportunities. It is the failure of the international community and the parties involved to resolve the refugee issue in the context of a just and durable peace deal that has perpetuated the refugee problem.

As for the well-worn charge that UNRWA has kept alive Palestinian opposition to Israel and supports radical politics, in fact it scrupulously avoids politicization of its staff and schools, which include courses in human rights and non-violence. In running its programs in the West Bank and Gaza, UNRWA works closely with officials in Israel. Indeed, UNRWA schools and services in the West Bank and Gaza are a buffer against joblessness, despair and extremism among refugees, 50% of whom are under 25, in an environment where unrest is a constant threat, pending a long overdue peace.

The United States, as UNRWA’s most generous donor for six decades, should be proud of its support for UNRWA’s human development programs for Palestinians. Notwithstanding perennial calls for cutting our contributions, all administrations, Republican and Democrat, have maintained America’s support for UNRWA as a vital counterpart to our peace-making diplomacy.

This year in Washington, amidst threats to stability and rising demands for freedom, jobs, and more decent lives in the Arab Middle East, there are calls for serious cuts in — or even eliminating — our annual contribution to UNRWA. At the same time, UNRWA’s needs are growing, as the refugee population grows. (Many students at UNRWA’s split-session schools in Gaza study in makeshift shipping containers.)

A retreat from America’s leadership in funding UNRWA would be foolish and damaging to U.S. interests and credibility. At a tumultuous turning point in the Middle East, where cries for freedom, jobs and human development are resonating, America needs to reinforce its investment in human development and more dignified lives for Middle Easterners. Keeping faith with America’s historic commitment to UNRWA is an essential way to confirm our nation’s commitment to these ideals.

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