In an amazing breach of sworn neutrality, to say nothing of civility, a UN spokesperson on social media attacked the Jerusalem Post and its editor and called for a boycott of the paper.
Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Arab refugees posted the following on his UNRWA Twitter account:
Gunness lost his cool over an op-ed written by a Palestinian Arab and published in the Jerusalem Post which blamed UNRWA for prolonging the suffering of his people in order to justify its existence and deepen its coffers.
Bassem Eid, the author of that op-ed, is the founder and director of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. His piece in the Post criticized UNRWA:
UNRWA, to continue its operation, depends on death and the visual suffering of five million Palestinians who continue to wallow in and around UNRWA facilities.
The more Palestinians suffer, the more power goes to UNRWA, which allows it to raise unchecked humanitarian funds and purchase munitions. People ask: Why not abolish UNRWA? Well, this cannot be done.
The only agency that can abolish UNRWA is the UN General Assembly, which has never had the interests of the Palestinian people at heart. After all, the UN rakes in more than $1.2 billion a year as an “incentive” to continue our status as refugees.
Eid included in his opinion piece a series of conditions he believes the UN donor nations should put in place in order to reform UNRWA.
These conditions, Eid suggested, are essential to ensure that UNRWA ends its perpetuation of his people’s refugee status and instead help his “people strive for a better future.” It is the responsibility of the Palestinian Arab people to insist on these conditions, to rebel against the “arbitrary administration of UNRWA.
Those recommended conditions included auditing all UNRWA funds, encouraging permanent refugee settlement, dismiss Hamas-affiliated UNRWA employees, and cancel what Eid described as “the UNRWA war curriculum, based on principles of jihad, martyrdom and right of return by force of arms.”
The editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, Steve Linde, gently responded to Gunness:
Perhaps Gunness does not understand the difference between an opinion piece and a news article. An opinion piece – which is what Eid’s is – is a column submitted by a non-employee, someone with expertise in a particular subject and which expresses that individual’s opinions or particular views on a subject.
Opinion pieces, in contrast to many news articles, are not intended to contain opposing views. An editor would never inject the comments of the subject being criticized into an opinion writer’s piece.
What Gunness could have done was submit his own op-ed for consideration to the Jerusalem Post.
But that isn’t what Gunness did.
Instead, the UNRWA spokesperson continued lobbing spitballs at Linde and the Jerusalem Post.
GUNNESS CONTINUES ASSAULT
Gunness then sinks even deeper into the sludge of trash talk by repeatedly posting what he claimed was a picture of a Jerusalem Post reporter. In the photo a man wearing a college t-shirt with a gun slung over his shoulders stands in front of a “Kahane was right” poster.
Gunness seemed to believe that distributing this photo (which comes from the blog of an Israeli anti-Zionist Arab rights activist, Didi Remez), proved his attack on Linde and the Jerusalem Post was justified. Gunness is supportive and protective of Hamas, a currently active terrorist organization, but apparently that does not strike him as problematic.