Preventing terrorist attacks is one of the most significant challenges nation-states face today when it comes to securing their borders and to maintain peace and stability in highly-volatile regions across the world such as the Middle East. It is against this backdrop that foreign aid has often been deployed by Western governments and policymakers as a critical part of their counterterrorism policies.
While the intent of donor states to give foreign aid is inherently noble, it is not uncommon to see foreign funds being abused and misused by unscrupulous recipient organizations and states to forward their own sinister agendas, most worryingly of which involve the promotion of terrorism and extremism.
An Israeli watchdog found that a new series of educational textbooks produced by the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine and the Near East (UNRWA), a United Nations agency supporting Palestinian refugees, contains incitement to violence and hatred against Israel, and glorifies terrorism. For example, a Grade 9 spelling exercise describes ‘pieces of corpses’ being dispersed throughout city streets. In another instance, Israel is strictly referred to as ‘the Enemy’ or ‘the Occupation’ and is erased from maps of the region.
The palpable problem with this kind of extremist teaching is that it makes it all the more difficult to achieve any form of peace in the future in an already volatile region since a generation or possibly even generations of innocent children are radicalized not only with hatred towards Jews but also the misguided belief that the state of Israel doesn’t have any legitimacy in the region.
While this isn’t the first time the UNRWA has been found guilty of extremist indoctrination in Palestinian classrooms, what’s even more troubling is Canada has already pledged $90 million of taxpayer money over the next three years to fund the controversial organization.
For years, the Liberal government has accepted implausible assurances from UNRWA that Canadian dollars are not being used to teach Palestinian children to hate. In fact, when this issue was previously brought to the attention of PM Justin Trudeau and the suspension of UNRWA funding was sought, UNRWA claimed it was all just a big mistake and that the offensive material had been replaced with content adhering to UN values, and so the Canadian government continued with its funding. This new report, however, suggests that UNRWA duped Canada as it continues to circulate anti-Semitic material that glorifies terrorists and urges Palestinian children to wage ‘jihad’ (holy war) against Israel.
For years, UNRWA has been riddled with accusations of promoting anti-Semitic propaganda, perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem and close links to Hamas, a violent terrorist group banned in Canada. UN Watch, a non-government organization that monitors the performance of the United Nations, has documented numerous issues of problematic UNRWA-Hamas ties.
The fact that an ostensibly neutral UN agency harbors such close ties to a terrorist organization should be reason enough for PM Justin Trudeau to pull the plug on funding UNRWA.
While it is welcome news that the Trudeau government has promised an investigation into the abuse of taxpayer funds by UNRWA, it still needs to suspend the funding right away until the investigation is complete.
However, given the duplicitous and partisan nature of UNRWA’s operations and multiple violations of trust, it’s high time Ottawa identifies other alternative mechanisms that would ensure Canadian dollars are not used towards malicious purposes, but rather, for the meaningful care and growth of the Palestinian people, particularly children.
Canada’s distribution of foreign aid must be based on its core values of democracy, accountable governance, peaceful pluralism and respect for diversity and human rights. Recipient organizations or states that do not share or fail to honour these values, have no business getting Canadians’ hard-earned tax dollars. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the Trudeau government to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used effectively and efficiently, lest they become unwitting sponsors of terrorism and extremism.