Tricked by UNICEF

Financing of Palestinian terrorism makes for one scary Halloween.

By Dave Kopel

National Review Online. Oct. 26, 2007

Americans mostly know UNICEF through the “trick or treat for UNICEF” campaigns. The “trick” is on the donors who think that UNICEF is all about helping poor children. 

UNICEF has been a major financier of Palestinian “summer camps” which encourage children to become suicide bombers. One such camp is named for Wafa Idris, a female suicide bomber

During the late 1990s, UNICEF served as a propaganda organ of the Saddam Hussein regime. Relying solely on Iraqi government statistics, UNICEF and the Saddam government co-authored a report asserting that over a million children in Iraq died because of U.N. sanctions. A map on the first page of the report depicted Kuwait as a province of Iraq.

UNICEF is the primary funder for the “Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation” (PYALARA), which UNICEF calls “a major strategic partner in Palestine.” Materials produced by the group are frequently used in schools operated by UNICEF. 

PYALARA publishes a 16-page newspaper for young people, The Youth Times (TYT). It is distributed at Palestinian universities, colleges, community centers, and in the many U.N.-operated schools in Palestinian areas.

The organization claims that its mission is “expanding awareness of one’s roots and identity, environment and culture, as well as of other countries and the world at large.” Yet PYALARA’s products follow the typical line of terrorist propaganda, in which nothing is the fault of the Palestinians, everything is the fault of the Jews, and there is never any effort to consider the merits of Israel’s position on anything. 

For example, one PYALARA article was admiring a biography of the recently-deceased terrorist Abu Ali Mustafa.

Mustafa was the head of the terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a branch of Yassir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Mustafa met his demise at the hands of Israeli forces in 2001. In the months before Mustafa’s death, his terrorist group had assassinated an Israeli Cabinet Minister, set off three car bombs in Jerusalem, and carried out many other terrorist attacks. 

Earlier, Mustafa and the PLFP had worked with the Japanese Red Army (a Communist terrorist group) and slaughtered 24 people at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. In 1976, the PFLP hijacked an Air France flight. After refueling in Libya, they flew to Entebbe, Uganda, which was, at the time, ruled by the insane, genocidal tyrant Idi Amin. 

The PFLP hijackers, assisted by Amin’s army, demanded that five nations release 53 named, convicted terrorists, or else the plane and its passengers would be blown up.

The Israeli Defense Forces carried out a daring raid on the Entebbe airport, killing the hijackers and their Ugandan accomplices, and rescuing all the hostages. The IDF rescue planes touched down at Ben Gurion Airport on July 4, 1976.

One of the few Israeli casualties in the rescue was Lt. Col. Yoni Netanyahu, whose brother Benjamin would later become Prime Minister of Israel.

So what did the UNICEF-funded PYALARA have to tell young people about the terrorist mastermind Abu Ali Mustafa? That he was “a political leader...whose history prides his nationalistic activism.” Mourning the death of the terrorist, the magazine whined “this is a human being who has a family that awaits his arrival every day.” Sympathy would have been better directed to the many innocents who were murdered at Mustafa’s direction.  

Then, in a lie typical of the Palestinian propaganda press, the PYALARA claimed “the Israelis could have turned to Abu Ali Mustafa to talk peace if peace were what they truly wanted.” In truth, Mustafa was always an adamant foe of negotiations, opposed even to Arafat’s strategy of going through the motions of peace negotiations in order to distract attention from his devotion for war.

Shortly before becoming head of the PFLP, Mustafa was interviewed by Al-Jazeera. He stated: “We believe the conflict and the struggle against Israel is a strategic [principle] that is not subordinated to any consideration.” Thus, “We believe the Palestinian people, both in the Diaspora and under occupation, have the right to struggle using all means, including the armed struggle, because we think the conflict is the constant, while the means and tactics are the variables.” 

Not that UNICEF blames Israel for everything. Bianca Jagger, in her official capacity as “UNICEF ambassador,” has toured the Middle East telling audiences that the United States is the source of evil in the modern world. 

As for the actual needs of children, UNICEF is sometimes an obstacle to progress. For example, UNICEF has been pressuring Guatemala to stop allowing inter-country adoptions. That is, UNICEF would prefer a child to languish in a Guatemalan orphanage rather than be adopted by a loving family in the United States. 

UNICEF’s focus on politics and political correctness has come at the expense of saving the lives of the approximately ten million children under the age of five who die each year from preventable causes. 

According to UNICEF, the major cause of child poverty in the world is the free market—even though countries with free markets have vastly lower levels of child poverty than do the kleptocratic, statist economies extolled by UNICEF. 

A 2003 report praised the North Korean dictatorship:

the particular strength of the DPRK’s policy framework lies in its comprehensiveness, integration and consistency in addressing the interests of children and women. It has been aligned with the collective production system. The Government has proactively broadened and updated its laws and policies on an ongoing basis, also making an effort to harmonize with international innovations and standards.

Given UNICEF’s affinity for the extreme left, it should be no surprise that UNICEF helps fundthe gun- prohibition lobby in Brazil. 

The Executive Director of UNICEF is traditionally chosen by the United States (although nominally appointed by the U.N. Secretary-General). All of the abuses described above took place during the tenure of Executive Director Carol Bellamy, who was selected by President Clinton in 1995. In May 2005, President Bush chose former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman as executive director. 

While there is no reason to believe that Veneman shares Bellamy’s extreme Left agenda, it would be fair to say that she has a long way to go to fix UNICEF. The organization today stills promotes the Brazilian gun prohibition lobby Viva Rio, and funds the pro-terrorist Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation as one of its “partners” in what it calls “occupied Palestinian territory.” UNICEF also “partners” with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which uses ambulances to transport terrorists and their weapons, and whose personnel have participated in suicide bombings. 

UNICEF’s executive board includes China (whose forced abortion policy is neither pro-life, nor pro-choice, nor pro-child) and Bhutan (where children are among the many victims of the regime’s human rights abuses). UNICEF has doled out unaccountable money to the North Korean regime.

Under Veneman, UNICEF is not as bad as it was under Bellamy, and even under Bellamy, the organization performed some good works. However, most people who give money to groups which help children would prefer that none of their donations be used to finance terrorism, the destruction of civil liberties, or tyranny. 

The good-hearted children who “trick or treat for UNICEF” don’t know about UNICEF’s sordid allies, of course. So instead of simply rejecting the requests of the children, gently explain that you don’t want to give money to UNICEF because dictatorships like China help run the organization, and some of UNICEF’s money helps pro-terrorism groups. Then, put a dollar (or five, or ten) in a bag of your own, and tell the children that because of their trick-or-treating, you will be giving more money to a different charity (which you can name for them) which uses all of it money to help children. And if your child’s school is contemplating a UNICEF fundraiser, politely encourage the administration to pick a better charity.

— Dave Kopel is research director of the Independence Institute, in Golden, Colorado.

Share this page:

Kopel RSS feed Click the icon to get RSS/XML updates of this website, and of Dave's articles.

Follow Dave on Twitter.

Search Kopel website:

Make a donation to support Dave Kopel's work in defense of constitutional rights and public safety.
Donate Now!

Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action. Please send comments to Independence Institute, 727 East 16th Ave., Colorado 80203. Phone 303-279-6536. (email) webmngr @

Copyright © 2018