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UNRWA responds with false claim to PMW report
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False claim by UNRWA in response to PMW report:
Map without Israel that official posed with
does not represent today but "pre-1948" Palestine

UNRWA's name still appears in logo of youth center that currently glorifies suicide bomber on its Facebook page

Israeli representative to the UN
cites PMW's UNRWA story
in complaint to UN Secretary-General

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Earlier this week, Palestinian Media Watch reported that the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr, posed with a map that erases the State of Israel and presents all of it as "Palestine," at an UNRWA event in Lebanon (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East).

These pictures were broadcast on Palestinian Authority TV and on the Palestinian news site pn-news.net, corroborating PMW's report.

UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness, responding on UNRWA's website, rejected PMW's report. He claimed that the map in question was not intended to reflect the present, but reflected the period before Israel was established:

"UNRWA categorically rejects accusations in the media that the Agency is 'erasing Israel from the map' because its officials and stakeholders stood next to a map which does not show Israel.
The map in question is an embroidery depicting a pre-1948 map and therefore ante-dates the creation of the state of Israel. The allegations are therefore completely false."
[UNRWA's website, May 14, 2013,
http://www.unrwa.org/etemplate.php?id=1748 ]

UNRWA spokesperson Gunness' justification that the map "depict[s] a pre-1948 map" is baseless, as the map includes the PLO-PA flag and not a British flag. That exact map erasing Israel, especially when accompanied by the PA flag, is one of the many ways the PA expresses its rejection of Israel's existence and right to exist.

In addition, Gunness' statement that the UNRWA official "stood next to a map which does not show Israel" is also misleading, as it indicates a passive non-involvement. In fact, the UNRWA official is shown holding the map and the map was the central focus of the picture.

Furthermore, UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness wrongfully claimed that PMW has been "forced to retract" "allegations" about UNRWA in the past:

"The organization (PMW) that originated the accusation has made similar allegations in the past about UNRWA's neutrality and was forced to retract after the agency showed them to be false."
 
In actual fact, PMW has never retracted any report about UNRWA. In the past, PMW has exposed events held by Palestinian organizations that glorified terror and honored terrorists, and did so using UNRWA's name and logo. These events that connected UNRWA with terror glorification were publicized in the Palestinian media and websites, and precisely reported by PMW.

Click to see PMW's report from 2011 of UNRWA's connection to the Al-Amari club that held a football tournament glorifying suicide terrorist Wafa Idris.

Click to see UNRWA's denial that they were connected to this tournament.

It is noteworthy that in 2011, UNRWA spokesperson Gunness chose not to condemn the tournament named after terrorist Wafa Idris, despite the fact that UNRWA's logo was included in the announcement of the event. Nor did he condemn the youth center for glorifying the suicide bomber. Instead, UNRWA denied its responsibility by informing PMW that the use of its name by the Al-Amari youth center in its logo was not authorized.

What is striking about Gunness' claim is that today, a full two years later, UNRWA's name still appears on the club's logo on its Facebook page:

[Al-Amari Club's official Facebook page, accessed May 16, 2013,
http://on.fb.me/12dQ7hx]
 
Worse still, the club continues to celebrate suicide terrorist Wafa Idris as a hero. Idris killed one and injured more than 100 in her 2002 attack.

A few months ago, the Al-Amari Club's Facebook page posted a picture of terrorist Wafa Idris alongside the following text:

[Al-Amari Club Facebook page, Jan. 29, 2013,
accessed May 16, 2013]
"Peace upon you, (i.e., suicide bomber Wafa Idris) daughter of Al-Amari (Refugee Camp.) Would that Heaven be enjoyable for you and Martyrdom death for Allah (Shahada) be enjoyable for you.
13 years have passed and your memory remains because you are the symbol of sacrifice. You are the symbol of pride, pride in its fullest, of our resolute refugee camp. You are the pride of the women of Palestine.
We pledge our loyalty to you, oh Wafa, oh she who fulfilled her commitment and fulfilled her promise, oh most noble of the noble ones. Rest in peace and may a light shine on your pure soul, the woman who is worth a thousand men."
 
Caption on the picture:
"The first female Martyrdom-seeker in the Al-Aqsa Intifada
Martyr (Shahida) Wafa Idris"
 
This text still appears today on the club's official Facebook page, which carries the UNRWA name within the club's logo. Notwithstanding UNRWA's claims in 2011 that its name should not appear in the logo, terror glorification continues to take place under the banner of UNRWA even today.

As a final note, Israel's representative to the UN Ron Prosor reacted to PMW's original report about the map, protesting to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter:

"I wish to draw your attention to a startling event that took place earlier this month. On May 2, 2013, officials from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) attended an event in southern Lebanon. At the event, Ann Dismorr, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, posed for photos with a map that erased the State of Israel and identified the geographic area as 'Palestine.'" (For full letter, see below)
 
Click to see PMW's report from 2010 showing UNRWA's name connected to a football tournament glorifying terrorist Abu Jihad.

Click to see UNRWA's denial that it had any connection to this tournament.

Palestinian Media Watch has documented that other UN organizations have been associated with events glorifying terrorists.

Palestinian Media Watch regularly reports on the PA's denial of Israel's right to exist, and its portrayal of "Palestine" as replacing Israel.

The following is the full text of Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor's letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations
14 May 2013
H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General
United Nations
New York

Excellency,

I wish to draw your attention to a startling event that took place earlier this month. On May 2, 2013, officials from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) attended an event in southern Lebanon. At the event, Ann Dismorr, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, posed for photos with a map that erased the State of Israel and identified the geographic area as "Palestine."

The map identified "Palestine" as the geographic area extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. The State of Israel was conspicuously absent. It doesn't take a PHD in Middle Eastern history or geography to realize that a map of the Middle East that doesn't include Israel is deeply and profoundly prejudiced.

Many in the international community doubt UNRWA's impartiality and motives. Israel supports UNRWA's important humanitarian work; however, actions that encourage incitement, conflict and, ultimately, violence undermine this work. Embracing a map that rejects Israel's right to exist is outrageous and contrary to the integrity, independence and impartiality that UNRWA stands for.

Knowing the importance that you place on coexistence and understanding between peoples, I am sure that you will be dismayed about this event. The integrity and impartiality of UNRWA demands that the UN immediately look into this matter.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of my highest consideration.

Yours truly,

[Signed] Ron Prosor
Ambassador
Permanent Representative


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