Raymond M. Berger
Real Bullet Points

US Senator Dianne Feinstein Is Wrong about Aid to Palestinians

He knew he would become a hero among his people if he killed a Jew.

This month six Democrats introduced a Senate resolution to restore United States civil and humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Leading the charge was long-time US Senator Dianne Feinstein.

“President Trump’s refusal to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people is a strategic mistake”, announced Feinstein. “Denying funding for clean water, health care and schools in the West Bank and Gaza won’t make us safer. Instead it only emboldens extremist groups like Hamas and pushes peace further out of reach.”

Feinstein could not be more wrong.

Rewards for Terrorism

The Palestinian Authority (PA) rules over the great majority of Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and has done so since its creation under the Oslo Accords in 1993. The terrorist organization Hamas, has ruled the Gaza Strip since it seized power in a violent coup in 2007.

For many years, the United States has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the PA and Hamas to pay for health services, education, security and infrastructure projects. But that has all changed with the election of Donald Trump as US president. Last year President Trump ended virtually all US aid to the Palestinians.

Trump’s cuts have been supported by Congressional legislation.

The 2018 Taylor Force Act prevents US economic aid to the PA, as long as the PA provides reward payments to those who commit terrorist acts and their families.

The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, passed by Congress in 2018, allows Americans to sue recipients of US foreign aid in American courts over acts of terrorism. This led the PA to ask the US to cut assistance to it. As explained by a senior PA official, “We do not want to receive any money if it will cause us to appear before the courts,” a back-handed way of admitting that the PA is responsible for terrorism.

Under Trump’s direction, the US has also ended all aid to the United Nations Relief and Works agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which since 1949, has funded food, education and other humanitarian projects in the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere.

According to press reports, President Trump’s decision to cut aid to the Palestinians is motived by two factors: the long-term unwillingness of Palestinian leaders to negotiate an end to the conflict with Israel; and their practice of incentivizing terrorism by providing reward payments to terrorists and their families.1 Trump might have added that the US is tired of seeing millions of dollars of its taxpayers’ money skimmed off by corrupt Palestinian leaders who have become millionaires at the expense of their own people.

Why Did Feinstein Do It?

By pressuring Congress to restore aid to the Palestinians, Feinstein and her colleagues continue a game that has kept corrupt Palestinian governments in power. US aid has also perpetuated, rather than resolved, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But even in the face of the ineffectiveness of this long-term aid policy, left-wing Democrats like Feinstein are motivated by several factors.

One is the idea Palestinians should not have to suffer economic and social deprivation because of the acts of their corrupt leaders. Another is the hope that, by improving living conditions, Palestinian rulers and their people will have an incentive to avoid violence and make peace. After all, the argument goes, if Palestinians have something to lose—-a comfortable life—they are more likely to choose peace over terrorism and war.

There is also the matter of what I call the Extortion Game. Through long years of practice, Palestinian leaders have become adept at this game. They know that, lurking behind every request they make to western powers, is the threat of Palestinian violence.

They have powerful levers at hand. Through their government institutions, schools, media and religious establishment, they can instantly call for violence. They then turn disingenuously, to the west and cry, “If you don’t do as we say, we won’t be able to control the Arab street.” Palestinian leaders did this recently with their threats of violence in reaction to the US move of its embassy to Jerusalem and then US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. That these threats were largely ineffective is a measure of how alienated Palestinians have become from their leaders and how much influence these leaders have lost.

But Feinstein and her gang are still willing to play along with the Extortion Game. Appeasers like Feinstein claim that cutting aid will lead to “instability,” that is, to riots and terrorism.

Perhaps the most important motivation for Feinstein and company is pandering to the left-wing of the Democrat party. Recently, the influence of the far-left on the Democrat Party has grown, especially with the election of radical left-wing members of the House. If the old guard—-represented by Feinstein and her colleagues—-is to survive, they must satisfy the cries of these left-wingers. Placating the Palestinians and blaming and pressuring the Israelis to make concessions are well-worn strategies to accomplish this.

Time’s Up

For the past 25 years and longer, the funding strategy of Feinstein and her Senate colleagues has failed. It has failed to moderate Palestinian leaders, improve the lives of Palestinians or Israelis, or discourage violence and extremism. It has not brought us closer to peace. Rather, it has reinforced the Palestinian narrative of victimhood (why else would continual aid be needed?); impeded the development of an autonomous Palestinian economy; entrenched corrupt leaders; incentivized terrorism; and poisoned the minds of countless Palestinian children through hate education supported by foreign funds.

In 2017, almost half of foreign aid to the PA went to reward payments to those who committed acts of terrorism and other political violence—and to their surviving families, if the attacker was killed as a result of the attack.2

Trump’s decision to end this game is his way of declaring to Palestinians, “Time’s Up.” Get serious about ending the violence and making peace. If you won’t do that, don’t rely on us any longer to fund your dysfunctional ways.

A Victim of Continued Funding to the Palestinians

Isn’t Feinstein just trying to do the right thing? Perhaps. But consider the destination of the US taxpayer dollars that Feinstein wants to send to the Palestinians.

Consider the short life of Hallel Yaffa Ariel.

In 2016, Hallel was a 13-year-old girl living in a Jewish community in the West Bank. She was a dual American-Israeli citizen. By cover of night, Palestinian teenager Mohammed Tarayra, armed with a knife, broke into her room where she lay asleep. Tarayra then plunged his knife into Hallel’s heart, killing the girl.

Tarayra was killed by Israeli soldiers as they attempted to arrest him. But his family will receive a generous lifetime pension as a reward for what PA officials have called his “heroic act.”

Tarayra was the product of years of UNRWA-funded hate education. He knew he would become a hero among his people if he killed a Jew. Today, more Tarayras are in the making because the hate education continues in Palestinian schools, media and civil society institutions….and because Palestinians know that terrorists and their families will receive a lifetime pension as a reward for the killing of Jews, including American children.

And all of this has been helped along by “humanitarian” aid provided in part, by courtesy of the American taxpayer.

Why would any American—-or any decent person, for that matter—-continue to provide millions of dollars of assistance to a government that facilitates and rewards the murder of American children?

Senator Diane Feinstein must have known about Hallel and countless other victims. Yet she continues to push the absurd idea that US money would make Palestinian violence less likely. She tried to resume the flow of dollars that supports the barbarism.

Senator Feinstein’s efforts to restore US aid to the Palestinians are misguided and dangerous.

Footnotes

  1. Berger, R. M. Should Americans Be Impartial in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict? Times of Israel: The Blogs, January 29, 2019. Retrieved April 21, 2019 from:

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/should-americans-be-impartial-in-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/

  1. Lieber, D. PA Payments to Prisoners, ‘Martyr’ Families Now Equal Half its Foreign Budgetary Aid. Times of Israel. July 31, 2017. Retrieved April 21, 2019 from:

http://www.timesofisrael.com/pa-payments-to-prisoners-martyr-families-now-equal-half-its-foreign-aid/

About the Author
The author is a life-long Zionist and advocate for Israel. He believes that a strong Jewish state is invaluable, not only to Jews, but to the world-wide cause of democracy and human rights. Dr. Berger earned a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has twenty-seven years of teaching experience. He has authored and co-authored three books as well as over 45 professional journal articles and book chapters. His parents were Holocaust survivors.
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