‘I Was Told UNRWA Was ‘Out to Get Me. They have’ – Israeli YouTube channel taken down over criticism of UNRWA

November 1, 2019 by Benjamin Brown - TPS
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The Director of the Centre for Near East Policy (CFNEPR) has made serious accusations against US tech giant YouTube following the removal of the Center’s YouTube channel in mid-October.

David Bedein

The channel, which focused on short documentaries highlighting the organizational structure and shortcomings of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), was removed from the site “due to repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines on Violent or Graphic content.”

Speaking to TPS, David Bedein, Director of CFNEPR, explained that in a recent warning from a journalist, he had been informed of possible steps against his channel.

“I was told UNRWA was out to get me. They have,” Bedein elaborated.

UNRWA recently received the attention of the media ahead of the United Nations General Assembly’s decision on whether to renew the agency’s mandate. While this vote takes place every three years and is common practice, this year may be different.

With the UN currently investigating UNRWA over ethical misconduct, critics of UNRWA have been hoping for member states to impose conditions on UNRWA when renewing the mandate.

Bedein believes that an under-pressure UNRWA is behind the removal of his YouTube channel.

“There is no question about it. UNRWA has influenced Google.” Google owns YouTube, the largest video-streaming site online.

The Untied Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) base in Jerusalem

Speaking on the “freedom of press issue”, Bedein voiced his fears that YouTube’s undertaking may set a dangerous precedent for censorship on social media.

In an e-mail seen by TPS, YouTube informed the CFNEPR of their decision to keep the account suspended, informing Bedein that he “won’t be able to access or create any other YouTube accounts.”

Following the removal of the videos from YouTube, the CFNEPR is hosting its documentaries on the video-streaming site Vimeo.

Aiming to shed light on Israeli-Arab relations, the Centre for Near East Policy Research is currently pushing for reforms of UNRWA.

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