GOP wants probe of alleged anti-Semitic activities at UN

Four House Republicans are pressing the State Department to better explain its oversight of a United Nations agency that has been accused of facilitating anti-Semitic activities.

The Republicans asked Secretary of State John Kerry last week to provide details about how the department monitors the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). That request was made months after a documentary claimed that UNRWA is responsible for fostering violence against Israel among Palestinian children.

ADVERTISEMENT
Back in September, Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) asked the State Department to investigate these claims and share any information it gathered with Congress.

Officials replied in September that they are aware of the documentary, David Bedein's "Camp Jihad." The department added that UNRWA's own internal investigation found that the body had not funded any camps that promote violence against Israel.

However, it acknowledged that UNRWA discovered the camp was established by a "third party organization" and used UNRWA's facilities. The agency also said UNRWA has since ended its relationship with that third party.

UNRWA released a statement in August — after its investigation — that said the activities caught on film were allowed by a group that is not affiliated at all with UNRWA.

"We firmly condemn the anti-Semitic and inflammatory statements made during some of the interviews filmed in the West Bank, and we have suspended our relationship with the third-party organization, pending a review," the group said. "However, we reject in no uncertain terms the allegations that UNRWA promotes incitement and the notion that UNRWA is responsible for the views expressed in the film."

Last week, the four members followed up with a new letter to Kerry that notes the State Department is relying on UNRWA's own self-audit instead of its own inquiry. The members indicated that a separate investigation is needed to "address allegations that UNRWA used U.S. funding to sponsor educational programs, which are alleged to promote violence, anti-Semitism, and religious extremism among Palestinian refugees."

In response to the department's claim that officials are monitoring UNRWA, the Republicans asked for more details on how it monitors UNRWA programs. They also asked Kerry how the U.S. ensures that U.S. foreign aid is disbursed in a way that is consistent with U.S. law.

More in National Security

Sen. Cotton meets Netanyahu in Israel

Read more »