Let’s credit UNRWA for penalizing its union chief for entertaining Hamas. But before getting carried away with praise of UNRWA, let’s also note that it is UNRWA, headquartered in Gaza, which hired these thousands of Hamas devotees to staff its schools in the first place, and regularly calls for more money to cover its ever-expanding payroll. In an Oct. 30 appeal to its staff union to stop the strikes, UNRWA made no mention of the depravities of Hamas. Instead, the big concern was money. UNRWA fretted that by going on strike to support Hamas, “the unions are playing dangerously into the hands of those who seek to destroy and defund UNRWA.”
In other words, UNRWA isn’t worried about staffing its classrooms in more than 240 Gaza schools with teachers sympathetic to Hamas — that part is apparently OK, as long as they don’t advertise their sympathies by going on public strike in support of Hamas. But UNRWA is indeed worried right now about losing some of its more than $1 billion annual budget — to which the U.S. is the largest donor, contributing $268 million in 2009. To whatever extent UNRWA is worried enough to be discouraging “extra-curricular activities” in which its staff union consorts with Hamas, we should probably credit Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinin, who has introduced a UN Reform bill that would cut U.S. funding to UN agencies that don’t shape up. It’s a pity that money is a bigger lever at the UN than moral decency, but if that’s the reality, then more pressure on the funding is a very good idea.