An Open Letter to MoveOn: Re: Petition to fund UNRWA

Let me start with this— given the dire need for aid to the innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza— my arguing against an organization  (UNWRA) that could bring needed help to the area feels short-sided at best, cruel at worst.  As with the entirety of this ugly war, we humans are sometimes forced to “take sides” in a way that would normally never happen.  This feels especially true for me at this juncture.

MoveOn is an organization I have supported since before Obama was elected.  Last week, I was filled with dread to receive a mass email from them asking me to support funding the UNWRA via one of their petitions.  Are you familiar with why the UNWRA was recently defunded?

I wrote to them to express my feelings:

Dear Move On,

UNWRA are anti-Semitic Hamas sympathizers. They fund schools that teach children to hate Jews, and collaborate with the mass murder, rape and mutilation of Israelis. They aren’t keeping accurate records of actual people in need in the area.

So NO I will not sign your petition.

I do, however— support more humanitarian aid to the innocent civilians in Gaza. Let’s find a better outlet.

I am a lifelong liberal, progressive, Jewish, Zionist, Democrat. I have supported Move On since before Obama was elected. I am relying on you to open your eyes, and educate yourselves to think and act clearly here. This far left rhetoric is causing more harm than good.


Aimee Golant


Their Response:

Hi Aimee,
Thank you for reaching out to us and letting us know support more humanitarian aid to the innocent civilians in Gaza, but not via UNRWA.  MoveOn welcomes the suggestions and feedback of its members and I’ll share your email with our staff.
You may consider donating to some of these organizations who are offering humanitarian aid for Gaza civilians:
Thanks for all you do.
Mary B

MoveOn Community Support Volunteer

After I thanked the volunteer for her response, I then received a lengthier response from a different volunteer. He promised new information about UNWRA that was supposed to prove that they are innocent, and Israeli bullying caused the bad press and defunding for the organization. The volunteer cited an article written internally by the UNWRA— accusing Israel of wrongdoing, but providing no proof of it, or any non-biased examinations into this allegation against Israel. It would be as if Donald Trump (aka: liar in chief) wrote his own article proclaiming his innocence against the avalanche of well-documented evidence to the contrary— and then providing no proof of it.  Here’s what the MoveOn volunteer wrote:

“Hi Aimee,
Thank you again for reaching out to us. I want to share more information about MoveOn’s process for this campaign.
MoveOn members have a long history of coming together to support during moments of crisis. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees was carefully selected and vetted.
Since its creation in 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, also known as UNRWA, has been a lifeline for over 5.9 million registered Palestinian refugees, especially children, who make up the majority of the population of Gaza. They provide education, food, water, and essential supplies and services. UNRWA is greatly respected and supported within the humanitarian sector, as well as by groups focusing on Israel-Palestine, both Palestinian and Jewish-led, such as Americans for Peace Now. The UNRWA is the largest aid service provider in Gaza and currently houses over 700,000 people in 150 schools during the current crisis.
The UNRWA has been an essential part of the survival and development of people living in Gaza who have not been able to leave the strip in the last 16 years. Prior to October 7, UNRWA sent 500 trucks per day of humanitarian assistance. Now, following the Hamas-led attack on civilians and Israel’s subsequent siege on Palestine, Israeli defense forces have closed all but one border crossing into Gaza, and have imposed strict regulations on who can pass through. Meaning that those 500 trucks have been reduced to 20-30 per day. A 95% decrease.
The UNRWA is a non-political agency that operates in accordance with the UN humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence. Throughout its  existence, it has been subject to right-wing attacks. They fully investigate all allegations of staff misconduct with due process. In response to a recent 2021 watchdog report, UNRWA found that the majority of staff allegations were of people not even employed by, or tied to the agency. Any staff issues were dealt with and resolved by UNRWA’s leadership.
Since Oct. 7 there has been a spike in reports that UNRWA has had to navigate, with some making accusations that agency employees are connected to Hamas. These accusations led to the United States and several countries and world leaders cutting off critical humanitarian aid to the region for months. Recently, a report came out from UNRWA’s internal investigation that alleges UNRWA agency staff falsely admitted connections to Hamas, only after mistreatment and coercion in Israeli detention.

Several world leaders and countries, including Canada and Sweden, recently resumed their funding of UNRWA as a result of the outcome of recent reports. A priority for MoveOn is making sure there are as many humanitarian avenues as possible to ensure that critical aid can reach this region as this crisis escalates. We remain steadfast and hopeful in our principles, that hostages will be returned and a ceasefire agreement can be brokered so that all Israelis and Palestinians may live in peace.
MoveOn members directly support pro-peace initiatives, where we can advance efforts for humanitarian aid in Gaza. At its core, Move On is anti-war and pro-diplomacy, with a commitment to stop all loss of life for people of every background.
We hope this helps you understand why we’re campaigning for UNRWA to receive critical humanitarian aid from the United States again.
Kind regards,

MoveOn Community Support Volunteer”

Here is how I responded to him. So far, he has not
Dear Eric,

Thank you for your continued dialogue.  It’s important that we keep communicating.

This internal UNWRA report that you mentioned— was it vetted and corroborated by a neutral party?  The article states:   “UNRWA declined a Reuters request to see transcripts of its interviews containing allegations of coerced false confessions.”

Forgive my skepticism— but under the circumstances it seems plausible that the UNWRA would accuse the Israeli government of coercion.  So much bad blood there.

From my understanding, complaints about the non-neutrality of the UNWRA go back long before October 7th. Has MoveOn looked into the history? Have they looked into whom the UNWRA regards as refugees? Has MoveOn compared the work of the UNWRA with that of similar organizations— in terms of helping refugees get on their feet and thrive?

The state of Israel has been falsely delegitimized and Zionists/Jews are being demonized, threatened, and intimidated everyday in the USA— especially in left wing circles and on college campuses.   For example, back in 2019, the Israeli – Pride flag was BANNED from the Dyke March in Washington DC. (Where’s the outrage?)  The tidal wave of global anti-semitism post October 7th, is overwhelming. MoveOn’s support of the UNWRA feels like it could be just another left-wing attack.

Given the controversy surrounding UNWRA, wouldn’t there be a more diplomatic way to support the innocent civilians in Gaza— and for that matter— the release of the innocent Israeli hostages?  How about support for the women and their families that were victims of rape as a weapon of war? Total silence on that from MoveOn.

Why is there no MoveOn petition to call out the genocidal threats and brutal violence bestowed upon both innocent Palestinians and Israelis by Hamas?  (Am I wrong about this? Please send me the petition from MoveOn to condemn Hamas.)

There are 7 million Jews of all colors living in Israel— half of the world’s Jewish population. If Hamas wins, where will they go?  The Palestinian people elected Hamas. It’s so hard for me to understand why.  Both sides need to rein in their extremists, and elect new governments asap!

Even one life lost is too many. All the killing is senseless.  I support humanitarian aid 100%. Please help find a better way to do this.


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