Washington Stand: U.S. Must Stop Funding ‘Corrupt, Anti-Semitic, Terror-Complicit’ U.N. Agency: Congressman

The Biden administration’s rhetoric has condemned the October 7 terrorist attack on Israeli civilians, but its deeds have made the U.S. one of the top contributors to terrorist incitement, according to a senior congressmen seeking to cut all financial ties to a terror-tied U.N. organization.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was established after 700,000 Palestinians were displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which culminated in the establishment of the state of Israel. Today, UNRWA reports 1.7 million refugees, only 200,000 of them the original refugees, as the great-grandchildren of the 1948 population have joined the list. International intelligence found 12 members of UNRWA took part in the October 7 terrorist attack — which included numerous kidnappings, rape as a tool of torture, and murdering of Israeli civilians. But they say that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

UNRWA has “spawned this cycle of hate,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), senior member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and co-chair of the House Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, told “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” on Monday.

The United States has become complicit, because “we are the biggest donor by far,” Smith told Perkins. The U.S. funded UNRWA to the tune of $6 billion between 1950 and 2018. Donald “Trump, to his credit, ended all funding for UNRWA when he was president. Then came Joe Biden, and he’s given them over $1 billion U.S. tax dollars, without any condition.” The Biden administration transferred as many taxpayer dollars to UNRWA in three years as previous administrations gave in more than a decade.

“UNRWA is a corrupt, anti-Semitic, and terror-complicit agency,” said Smith earlier that day at an international conference in Geneva. “UNRWA radicalizes Palestinian children with seething anti-Semitic hate — it is a child soldier factory. It is child abuse.”

Although President Joe Biden and 18 nations “paused” aid to UNRWA after last fall’s hostilities, this constitutes “only a pause pending outcome of an ‘investigation’ that appears to be woefully and unnecessarily limited in scope,” Smith told the “International Summit for a Future Beyond UNRWA,” hosted by UN Watch. “I remain deeply concerned that they too will not go beyond a look at the 12 UNRWA employees alleged to have participated in the October 7 atrocities.”

Israeli intelligence documents furnished to CBS News reportedly document the dozen UNRWA workers’ participation in the uprising, including taking part in kidnapping Israeli civilians.

But Israeli intelligence states 10% of all UNRWA’s 12,000 employees (or 1,200 people) have some kind of affiliation with Hamas, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority.

They say 236 UNRWA workers have ties to the militant/terrorist wings of Palestinian groups, including 185 affiliated with Hamas and 51 with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly found Israeli allegations about UNRWA’s participation in the October 7 atrocities credible but cannot verify the exact number of employees affiliated with the terrorist groups.

On February 10, Israeli intelligence said it discovered a tunnel beneath a UNRWA facility in Gaza City, nearly half-a-mile long and 59 feet deep, that leads to a Hamas intelligence hub. “The United Nations Relief and Works Agency has been knowingly providing material support for Hamas terrorists who committed unspeakable atrocities against over a thousand Israelis and dozens of Americans,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “That support included salaries and facilities. Foreigners who knowingly funded UNRWA should be subject to sanctions and Americans who knowingly fund-raised for them should be investigated for criminal material support.”

A former investigator for the U.N.’s investigative body, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), said the OIOS cannot impose a greater disciplinary measure than dismissal: Of the 12 in question, two have been reporteddead, and the other 10 have already been fired. “I can confidently say that its investigation will amount to nothing,” wrote Peter Anthony Gallo in The Wall Street Journal.

Cutting off funding to the terror-linked U.N. agency enjoys bipartisan support. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Tenn.), the liberal co-chair of the House Israel Allies Caucus, said he would “applaud President Joe Biden’s decision to suspend UNRWA funding,” before tracing the previous seven years of troubling UNRWA activity.

“In 2017, UNRWA acknowledged the falsehood of its previous denials and fired its Gaza union head after he was revealed as part of Hamas leadership. A month prior, an UNRWA staffer was discovered to be [in the] Hamas politburo,” said Sherman. “In 2023, dozens of UNRWA teachers and staff were revealed to regularly praise Hamas and Hitler on social media. Yet UNRWA claims these staff are not teaching a pro-terror curriculum.”

Sherman has a 10.5% rating on FRC Action’s Scorecard.

Yet most of the Democratic Party base has aligned with the Palestinian cause. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a Palestinian-American, urged her state’s sizable Arab community to vote “uncommitted” in Tuesday’s Democratic primary as a protest against Biden’s rhetorical support for Israel. Although Biden won handily, “uncommitted” racked up 13% of the vote, more than 101,000 votes as of this writing — far beyond its sponsors’ goals.

Smith, who is Sherman’s pro-life counterpart on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is a veteran pro-life congressman who has long tried to reform the U.N. Palestinian relief organization. In 2003, he passed an amendment through the House of Representatives stating the UNRWA has “funded schools that promote anti-Semitism, allowed its facilities to be used as warehouses for weapons, bomb-making factories, terrorist training,” and based its actions on “anti-Semitic textbooks.” But the amendment never became law.

Two decades later, the body has “deep and widespread ties with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Perkins pointed out on Monday. Although the U.S. designates Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as terrorist organizations, the United Nations — and UNRWA — do not.

Smith introduced the Stop Support for UNRWA Act of 2024 (H.R. 7122) to defund UNRWA. The one-page bill states simply, “The United States may not make any voluntary or involuntary contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (referred to in this Act as ‘UNRWA’), to any successor or related entity, or to the regular budget of the United Nations for the support of UNRWA or a successor entity.” It passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 6, 30-19. He offered an amendment saying the bill does not prohibit U.S. foreign aid to the region but believes it should be administered only by organizations the U.S. has vetted and found not to “promote violence, terrorism, or anti-Semitism” nor to employ those who “promote, espouse, or affiliate with such entities or individuals.”

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) has also introduced the Uncovering UNRWA’s Terrorist Crimes Act (H.R. 7202), which would account for UNRWA funding during the Biden administration and end all U.S. funding to UNRWA “directly or indirectly.”

Critics like Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) say, “UNRWA is beyond redemption. Disbanding the organization is the only solution.”

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Photo credit: Amir Levy