From WSJ, 27 Jan 2017, by DAVID AUFHAUSER and SANDER GERBER*:
Trump halted an 11th-hour transfer of $221 million. But more can be done to end pensions for killers.
PA leader Rami Hamdallah meets with USAID’s David Harden in Ramallah, West Bank, June, 29, 2016.
PHOTO: PRIME MINISTER OFFICE/ZUMA PRESS
In the twilight hours of the Obama administration, Secretary of State John Kerry authorized the transfer of $221 million to the Palestinian Authority—in violation of an informal agreement with Congress not to do so. Fortunately, President Trump stopped the transfer before the money left America’s shores. Now he has the opportunity—and the responsibility—to do more.
Lawmakers had good reason to oppose the transfer. Much like with the $400 million cash ransom paid to Iran last year, no meaningful effort was made to account for how the money was to be spent or to prevent it from being used to kill innocents.
Since 9/11, it has been accepted wisdom that stopping funds flowing to terrorism is a vital way to diminish its reach and incidence...
A second operating principle growing out of 9/11 is that people who underwrite terrorism bear culpability equal to those who commit it.
...Over the past 10 years, Washington has provided more than $4 billion in foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority. The goal has been to promote a government in the Palestinian territories capable of assuming the responsibilities of a sovereign state, including the recognition of the state of Israel as a legitimate member of the community of nations. ...But unlike the many nongovernmental organizations that contribute charitable funds to the region, American assistance programs ...have yet to ensure effectively that taxpayer dollars are not diverted to support acts of terror.
Yet there is no question that this is happening.
First, the State Department has acknowledged the diversion in reports to Congress, as documented most recently in a Dec. 16, 2016, Congressional Research Service report. As a remedy, Washington simply reduced its aggregate aid by an amount that is classified but is reported to be pegged to intelligence estimates of what the Palestinian Authority spends to sponsor acts of terrorism. But money is fungible, and it is sophistry to argue that funds provided for good deeds do not enable the bad deeds of the same political entity, particularly given the scarcity of resources.
Second, the Palestinian Authority’s support for killing—such as the stabbing rampage that took the life of Taylor Force, a West Point graduate, in Jaffa, Israel, last March—is indisputable because it is codified in law. Statutes pledge to “martyr” families triple the income for life of the average salary in the West Bank, free tuition, health insurance and clothing allowances.
So popular is the program of pensions for the maiming and killing of civilians that, according to its own 2016 budget, the Palestinian Authority dedicates more than 500 full-time civil servants to its administration, at a cost of around $315 million, or roughly 8% of the budget of the would-be Palestinian state.
In the face of this widely advertised bureaucracy of terror, the Trump administration should suspend all further aid to the Palestinian Authority. Not another dollar should flow until measures are adopted to assure that no more people are slain because American aid enabled the Palestinian Authority to confidently promise compensation for killing.
Congress has already introduced the vehicle to do this, a bill in the name of Taylor Force. If passed into law, it would condition aid on the secretary of state’s certification that the Palestinian Authority has ended its legal sanction of terrorist financing. Without such a commitment, and strong due diligence by the State Department to ensure that it is honored, American funding of the Palestinian Authority should cease.
That such a straightforward proposition has escaped the Washington establishment for over a decade is perhaps one reason the country has a new president. Mr. Trump should at last enforce the 9/11 orthodoxy that if you stop the money, you stop the killing.
*Mr. Aufhauser was chairman of the National Security Council Policy Committee on Terrorist Financing and the general counsel of the Treasury Department after 9/11. Mr. Gerber is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Chaos is the order of the day throughout the entire democratic world.
This has been accelerated by the hypocrisy and intolerance of the vindictive Left, aided and abetted by foolish bleeding-heart pseudo-liberals who have become accomplices in the undermining of democracy.
One can understand that many Democrats were incredulous and devastated that Hillary Clinton could be defeated by Donald Trump, whose lack of civility, absence of political experience and coarse language even offended conservatives. But the outpouring of rage, the histrionic protest marches throughout the world, the establishment of committees to impeach Trump – even prior to the traditional 100-day honeymoon period – is unprecedented.
Contrary to all the claptrap about democracy that they sanctimoniously preached while in office, leftists are unwilling to accept the fact that their candidate was defeated by a parvenu.
The same chaos has swept through Europe, many of whose citizens are revolting against the failure of the Brussels-based European Union bureaucrats to address their needs and above all the collapse in the quality of their lives resulting from millions of so-called refugees flooding their countries.
This has led to a rise in global populism, a revival of conservative and right-wing political parties and rejection of the “politically correct” way of life imposed by sanctimonious liberal ideologues.
How has this chaos impacted on Diaspora Jews? As history has testified, during periods of stress and anxiety, Diaspora Jews face grave threats. Antisemitism, already having reached record levels since the Nazi era, is poised to become even more vicious.
That situation has been temporarily muted because the prevailing threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorist attacks in many Western nations has directed public anger toward Muslims rather than Jews. This does not apply to Hungary, Greece and Germany.
The Jews, as a minority that has suffered tyranny and persecution, would be expected under current circumstances to concentrate primarily on their own security. Ethics of the Fathers quotes Hillel the Elder, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I?” Liberal-inclined Diaspora Jews – especially those lacking an authentic Jewish education – appear to have reversed this dictum. They consider that the well-being of the world and politically correct standards of social values must be their priority – with disregard to the harm this inflicts on them as a community.
Observing Conservative and Reform Jewish leaders in the US, accompanied by once-mainstream liberal Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League and National Council of Jewish Women, at the forefront of hysterical demonstrations accusing Trump of being fascist and encouraging antisemitism, it is if they have been possessed by a dybbuk.
The same bleeding hearts in the US as well as those in Europe were at the forefront of calls to open the gates to Muslim “refugees” steeped in anti-democratic behavior and nourished on diets of undiluted, visceral antisemitism. Setting aside the question of Islamic State terrorist sleeper cells, there is little doubt that these elements will strengthen existing antisemitism in the older immigrant Muslim communities that failed to integrate. Yet many Jews are so dismally ignorant and oblivious that they even compare these immigrants to Jews facing annihilation during the Holocaust who were denied haven by other democratic countries.
This behavior is even more disturbing at a time of historic opportunities with the election of President Trump.
Although by no means yet assured, the US, still the only true global superpower, may truly treat Israel as a genuine ally, a move that would be reinforced by an overwhelmingly pro-Israel Congress. Trump has repeatedly proclaimed his determination to reverse former president Barack Obama’s hostile anti-Israeli policy and create a new alliance between the US and Israel that would be sensitive to the security needs of the Jewish state. His commitment to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would have more than symbolic value. It would have a major impact in reversing the odious definition of the settlement blocs and even the Western Wall and Temple Mount as “occupied territory.” Israel could proceed to build homes and the Jewish neighborhoods over the Green Line would prosper. Furthermore, the US will hopefully no longer acquiesce to the UN persecution of Israel and will reject calls to return to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines.
Trump is also likely to bring an end to the US component of the scandalous $300 million per annum provided to the Palestinian Authority, much of which is doled out to murderers.
Israel will also have a powerful ally that recognizes Iran as a rogue state and would substantially reduce the genocidal threat from the Iranian Muslim fundamentalists.
All this has yet to be delivered but there is no doubt that there is now a window of opportunity which Israel should exploit to dramatically minimize the security challenges and separate from the Palestinians with defensible borders. This can be achieved if Israel now has the support of a US that can be counted on as a true ally. Over the past eight years under Obama, the US dramatically eroded Israel’s diplomatic standing, treated the Jewish state as a pariah and provided incentives to the Palestinians to stall negotiations and engage in terrorism. With renewed American support, Israel could at long last stabilize itself.
There is no disputing that many Democratic Party supporters, including large numbers of Jews, were bitterly disappointed at the election result and were further outraged by Trump’s triumphant and, in their view, divisive inaugural address. But surely it is in the interest of the Jewish community to develop a good relationship with the new administration, especially taking into account the enormous uplift it could provide to the beleaguered Jewish state.
Even setting aside his religious Jewish son-in-law, Trump has always been close to Jews and his inner councils incorporate an unprecedented number of passionate religious Zionist Jews. This was highlighted by the honored role of Rabbi Marvin Hier as the first Orthodox rabbi invited to invoke a prayer at the presidential inauguration.
In this context, setting aside individual political beliefs, one must question the legitimacy of those purportedly mainstream Jewish organizational leaders who led the scurrilous accusation of fascism against the new president and the Jewish progressive religious groups calling for mourning and fasting.
One of the main justifying positive elements of progressive Jews was that even if they did not consider themselves obligated to follow Halacha (Jewish law), their activity would ensure that they at least remained within a Jewish framework. What their leaders are doing now is the opposite – encouraging them to take up liberal causes even if it means forsaking Israel, the most fundamental component providing them with a Jewish identity.
They have reversed Hillel’s maxim and act for what they perceive to be the universal needs of humanity, dismissing the interests of their own people. They are undermining themselves as a community and acting as lemmings marching off a cliff to their own destruction.
There is only one example in Jewish history to which such behavior can be compared. The Jewish Bolsheviks also turned against their own people, and ultimately the revolution consumed them.
Unfortunately, the vociferous anti-Trump Jewish activists represent a far greater proportion of the Left and their bleeding-heart pseudo-liberal allies than the Bolsheviks, who represented an insignificant proportion of Russian Jews.
It is clear that in the Diaspora, committed Jews will remain overwhelmingly supportive of Israel while the pseudo-liberal or progressive Jews will become less interested in Israel and ultimately lose their identity. Indeed, Christian Evangelicals now play a far greater role in promoting Israel than some of the mainstream Jewish groups.
We live in a world of chaos and upheaval.
Now is the time for all committed Jews to unite, stand together and concentrate primarily on securing their own rights. Diaspora Jews who, from their comfortable armchairs, claim a better understanding than Israelis of what is good for their security should be treated with contempt. Israel is entitled to expect support from committed Jews over the next few years until it stabilizes its relationship with the world and creates an iron barrier to deter its genocidal enemies.
Once the threats to the Jewish people have been overcome, we can and will become more directly involved in tikkun olam (repairing the world) and fulfilling Rabbi Hillel’s wise advice.