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Jewish Advocacy Groups Throw Weight Behind Bill Defunding Agency Linked To ‘Antisemitic Propaganda’

Jewish advocacy organizations are backing a bill introduced a bill last earlier this month by Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas and Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho that would pause funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) until steps are implemented to ensure that funds are not used to promote antisemitism or potential terrorism.

The bill, titled “The United Nations Relief and Works Agency Accountability and Transparency Act,” would “stop the flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars to this body with a rampant history of anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda and activity,” according to a press release from Roy and Risch. Jewish groups have voiced support for the bill, arguing that the UNRWA is in dire need of accountability.

The UNRWA has been criticized for its social media having “glorified suicide bombers” in the past and its educational curriculum supporting the jihad, according to the Jewish News Syndicate. A non-public report from the State Department found that the department had issued UNRWA with multiple infractions for abetting “armed incursions,” along with “the use of weapons in or near facilities” as well two terrorist tunnels found under UNRWA schools, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Roz Rothstein, co-founder, and CEO StandWithUs, a non-partisan educational organization that supports Israel and opposes antisemitism, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the bill must be a “bipartisan effort.”

“More scrutiny on UNRWA is a long overdue mechanism that should hold the agency accountable, but it is essential that it become a bi-partisan bill to gain greater credibility and ensure its success,” Rothstein said.

Roy and Risch introduced the bill in 2021 but could not garner enough support in a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Risch told the DCNF that he was “extremely concerned” about “antisemitic activities at UNRWA.”

“I’m not the only one — and this bill has enjoyed broad support in my caucus before,” Risch said. “I hope that we can work across the aisle to educate my Democrat counterparts about the many problems that exist with using U.S. money to prop up anti-American and anti-Israel activities and that this could lead us to a different outcome this congress.”

Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism, a leading non-partisan U.S based organization fighting and exposing antisemitism, was similarly pleased with the bill, noting that the organizations receiving millions in taxpayer funding from the U.S. needed to be monitored and thoroughly vetted.

“StopAntisemitism applauds Senator Jim Risch and Representative Chip Roy for introducing this much-needed transparency bill that will hold UNWRA accountable for how they use the $340 million they receive annually from the U.S,” Rez said in a statement to the DCNF. “StopAntisemitism recently met with Senator Risch’s office in D.C. to discuss the rise of antisemitism in the U.S. and around the world and are grateful for his efforts to combat violence against Jews.”

in introducing the UNWRA Accountability & Transparency Act which withholds all U.S. funding unless the Sec of State certifies UNRWA does not employ anyone with ties to US-designated terrorist groups and its schools/infrastructures are not used for terrorist activities— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) February 21, 2023

According to the press release, the bill would require the Secretary of State to report to congress every 180 days that the UNRWA has met a list of criteria aimed at promoting accountability and transparency. The agency would have to submit to financial audits, screen employees for connections to terrorist groups, and ensure all materials being distributed in Palestinian schools do not contain ” anti-American, anti-Israel, or antisemitic rhetoric,” among other things.

“UNRWA’s lengthy and detailed history of promoting antisemitism, violence, and terrorism through ‘educational’ materials, and its continued ties to Hamas, should completely disqualify this corrupt entity from receiving any  U.S. taxpayer funding,” Rep. Roy said in his press release. UNRWA has failed to meet previous commitments to stop its hostility towards Israel, which is an obstacle to peace. If our actions do not match our words, then our word means nothing.”

In 2018, former President Donald Trump suspended all U.S. funding to the organization because it was “irredeemably flawed,” and unable to provide evidence that it was not in any way supporting terrorism, according to CNN. President Joe Biden resumed funding in May 2021, but a Hamas tunnel was found under a UNRWA school in the West Bank just a month later, leading some to question whether the funding is being used for terrorism, according to the Times of Israel.

Dov Hikind, founder of Americans Against Antisemitism, told the DCNF that the proposed legislation was “wonderful” but criticized the President and the Democrats for renewing funding.

“When this money is being misused and being used to support terrorist organizations, it’s not a secret; everyone knows what is going on, but let’s close our eyes and pretend,” Hikind said. “That’s what’s being done, especially by the Biden administration now.”

The UNRWA did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.