Friday, October 06, 2006

6-Oct-06: Crying poor: The terror-laden rise and rise of the Palestinian national payroll and the men who allow it to happen

Don't be offended. But if you're a European who cares about what's being done with the taxes you pay to your government, the Palestinians are playing you for a fool. Not just you alone, but also your government, your politicians and your public-sector watchdogs.

Four years ago, when a hot terror war here in Israel was at its peak with innocent civilians being killed and maimed daily, the European Parliament started an investigation into whether European money was funding the actions of the murderers and savages on our streets. 

We ourselves are parents of a child who was murdered in a 2001 terrorist outrage, one of the hundreds of Palestinian Arab and jihadist bombings that have afflicted Israeli society. So we personally paid close attention when the Europarliamentarians began looking into their own civil service and its actions.

The European Commission is the executive arm of the EU government. During that period (2002 and 2003), Christopher Patten, a smooth, slick and utterly arrogant professional politician presided over an official European Commission program of sending huge sums of money into the maw of the Arafat kleptocracy, while denying eloquently out of both sides of his mouth that anything, Heaven forfend, might be wrong with any of this.

We never for a moment expected the European civil service to police itself in a legitimate way. And in this, we were not disappointed. We also never fell for Patten's manouveurings and chicanery, though most politicians and commentators clearly did. 

For a contrary viewpoint, and some precious insights into how Europeans have had their goodwill and good sense hijacked by the naked ambitions of their own ill-informed politicians, we suggest you pay an occasional visit to the website of the Funding for Peace Coalition. It's one of the very few sources of analysis of the PA's Rewards for Terror scheme and information that manages to see European venality and corruption for what it is.

The culmination of that carefully stage-managed Euro self-examination was that a secret investigation by its internal watchdog, OLAF, ended with a strange sort of whitewash to the Patten-managed terror funding of the Palestinian administration. Strange, because while the headlines of the OLAF audit said "we found no problem", OLAF's report itself - for the handful of people who bothered to read it - said there was no reason to think that everything was kosher, and in fact there were serious problems with the way European money was finding its way from Brussels into the hands of the murderers of Jewish babies and the killers of teenagers like our daughter.

At about the same time, the International Monetary Fund carried out its own audit. Its specialists found poor control mechanisms inside Palestinian government, huge sums 'diverted', rampant corruption and vast numbers of salaried jobs for people who did absolutely nothing (especially in the so-called 'security' arms of the PA.) How surprised, truly, are you to know that in the 2½ years since that IMF report, the payroll of PA employees has grown by a further 35,000?

In 2005, matters got expensively worse when Mahmoud Abbas, who had stepped into Arafat's greasy sandalsquietly incorporated the gunmen of the Fatah-controlled Al-Aksa Brigades into the PA, and assured them a monthly salary from the PA's payroll. 

Thousands more "security" individuals were added to the bloated payroll earlier this year just before the Palestinian Legislative Council elections which were won by Hamas. At about the same time, Abbas pushed through a wage increase (between 13% and 20%) for his "civil service" - essentially a majority of the Palestinian households, since many of the jobs are bogus.

The IMF criticized the move as a "substantial breach of the wage bill containment plan". The World Bank said: "The PA has created a serious fiscal crisis for itself with salary expenditure essentially out of control". [Source: Nigel Roberts, the World Bank's Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza]

The polite, formal objections by international bodies go on. But the money has kept pouring into Palestinian Arab hands since then. Arafat's beaming widow ended up with the mother of all nest-eggs after collecting a million euros a month while her husband was still in charge. And the luxurious villas of Fatah chieftains continue to be erected on the fringes of Ramallah and Gaza City for the insiders.

But for the ordinary man, woman and child on the littered streets of Palestinian Arab settlements, life remains a bitch. Despite the largest, most sustained program of foreign aid in the history of mankind, Palestinian Arab life, for far too many, continues to be lived inside garbage cans and slums. The money, most of it European, did not disappear, as people frequently erroneously say. It simply reached the hands of the Palestinian Arab insiders who - for generations - have built personal fortunes by controlling its kleptocracy. And there it stays, as it traditionally has. (See "Arafat's Swiss Bank Account", a personal memoir by Issam Abu Issa, former chairman of the Palestine International Bank.)

In a September 2006 analysis called "EU plans restarting PA aid: Risk of funding terrorism unresolved" published on the euFunding website, Brad Nielson writes about the publication by Die Zeit, a serious German news magazine, of an investigative report in 2002, detailing EU support of corruption and violence against innocent civilians. The response of the European Commission was derisory, but as Neilson points out, the EC made a commitment that: 
If any evidence comes to light that the PA is knowingly employing members of terrorist organisations, the PA will need to act immediately to take these people off the payroll and bring them to justice.
The evidence was available then. New evidence keeps emerging. 

So the Eurocrats leaned on the Palestinian Arabs to "act immediately", right? Of course not right. (Are you dreaming?) Then, as now, the bureaucrats of the European Commission chose to ignore the information in front of their eyes, pushing ahead with spending more and more and more European taxpayers money on failed Palestinian systems, on catastrophic Palestinian leadership, on known Palestinian terror channels. All this in direct contradiction of its own EU laws and its own statements to the public and to the media. And though almost none of it improves Pal-Arab lives. it keeps going on and on.

And not only by the EU. Keep your mind focused on the hopeless, dire poverty that characterizes daily life on the Palestinian Arab street as you read the following news reports from yesterday:
U.S. Urging Bigger Force for Abbas | Steven Erlanger in the New York Times | The U.S. is proposing to expand the presidential guard of PA Chairman Abbas to 6,000 men from the current 3,500, as part of a $26 million plan to shore up Abbas' position, according to donors who have been briefed by Washington's security coordinator for the Palestinians... The estimate is that $20 million will go to equip the presidential guard and $2 million to expand it, with $4 million going to build a training facility in Gaza and to complete one that is being built in Jericho. [Erlanger's October 4, 2006 NYT article goes on]
The American funding mentioned here is for set-up costs. The source is private donors so that the US government can evade its own restrictive laws on funding terror. And once the deal is done, the monthly salaries for these new "presidential guards" will come from... where?

Just to be clear that Abbas is not the only Pal-Arab insider who knows how to sort out his guns-versus-medicine priorities, here's what his political rivals are doing:
Tunnels feed new Hamas army | Intelligence officials express worry over expanding Hamas forces, say confrontation with IDF soon to come | Alex Fishman (Yedioth Aharonot) Published: 10.05.06, 10:39 | The Hamas organization in the Gaza Strip has assembled an armed and trained force of about 7,500 fighters. A senior military official emphasized that it was not just a large guerrilla force, but an organized military force. This new Hamas army consists of several specialized units, including a short-range missile unit, a long-range missile unit, an anti-tank unit, and a sniper unit, among others. Intelligence sources estimated the army would reach operational capacity, and be capable of confronting the IDF as soon as the coming summer, if the flow of arms, military experts, and money into the Gaza Strip was not stopped. The army did not only have defensive capabilities against the IDF, but offensive capabilities that would allow it to launch long-range missiles towards settlements within the Green Line, and to infiltrate Israel through hidden tunnels. According to military sources, the strengthening of Hamas’ army was a calculated aspect of a long-term plan that began with the rise of the Hamas government, and did not cease for a single day since then. Even recent internal struggles and IDF operations did not hinder the moving forward of the plan... In September alone, 12 tunnels were discovered in a single kilometer near the Gaza Strip town of Dahaniya... It was difficult for Israel to make an exact estimate as to the number of working tunnels there were on the Philidelphi route, but a rough estimate showed several dozen tunnels which were sophisticated, professionally quarried, and fully equipped with tracks and wheeled carts.
For the dwindling ranks of hopelessly-pollyannish individuals who still think of Hamas as somehow less corrupt, more true to their people's interests and so on, than Arafat's and Abbas' Fatah, consider:
  • In 2006, the number of government employees has steadily increased since Hamas took control of Gaza.
  • This includes Hamas' new so-called "special operational force" of 3,000 gunmen, its members drawn from the Hamas-controlled Iz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades and from the Hamas-loyal Popular Resistance Committees (PRC). This new militia was originally headed by Jamal Abu Samhadana, a notorious terrorist who masterminded the 2003 bombing of several US diplomatic vehicles in Gaza, killing three Americans. Samhadana's brilliant career came to an abrupt end in June, but the armed militia continues on its way and continues to draw monthly salaries.
  • President Abbas increased his own Presidential guard from 1,500 gunmen to 10,000 (no misprint - that's ten thousand).
  • Despite the vast fortunes accumulated by individual Pal-Arab insiders over the past forty years, the current average personal income tax rate for Palestinians is - as it always has been - zero. Surprised? You ought to be. Despite the quiet desperation of the Palestinian Arab economy, no Palestinian Arabs currently pay income tax: not the billionaires, not the tycoons, not the monopolists. Zero.
So in light of all the mismanagement and absence of accountability and of transparency, European government money is going to be withheld from these kleptocrats and terrorists, right? 

Not right. As the invaluable Funding for Peace Coalition again points out, in a September 2006 article called "EU hints to PA: Accountability no longer required":
Europe has effectively signaled a readiness to hand over more money to the PA. And Europe has shown that it is not interested in receiving a commitment to previously agreed-upon financial reforms called for by the World Bank. Without proper controls, the European taxpayer will yet again lose his investment, with the average Palestinian's money being directed towards corruption and the war industry. [Funding for Peace Coalition]
At a time when the PA claims to be chronically unable to meet its payroll, are we allowed to ask about the prioritization process that allows failed politicians in Europe and in the Palestinian regime to push ahead with their lethal incompetence on the backs of Israeli and Palestinian victims? 

Thursday, October 05, 2006

5-Oct-06: Roth on BBC: "Israelis Are Desperate for Peace"

Ritula Shah of the BBC's radio news programme " The World Today" interviewed Arnold Roth last night. The issue under discussion was yesterday's and today's visit to the area by the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The BBC asked Roth how ordinary Israelis relate to the talks being held during the visit, and whether Israelis are ready for peace. (Hint: Roth says yes.)

Click to hear the audio interview which was first published on the BBC website. It's being re-broadcast during the day today on the BBC's World Service.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

4-Oct-06: Palestinians Say: Spilling Blood is Wrong; It's Prohibited by Islam!

It's not every day that a news report from a Palestinian source comes up with what seems a humanistic, rational, even meritorious declaration. Today appears to be the day. Listen to these words:
"Shedding blood is 'haram' ('prohibited')" it says. "And we call on all Palestinians to stop this act [meaning bloodshed] which is prohibited by our religion. We call on you, everyone, in the name of Allah, everyone who is carrying a weapon, to lay it down, to embrace peace, and to understand the challenges of painful compromise in the name of peaceful relations with people who are different from us but who are, nevertheless, human beings with their own rights, ambitions and beliefs."
Okay, so we lied. Here's the actual quotation, in full, from a Palestinian source.

Read the words of the well-publicized Palestinian PRC (Popular Resistance Committee) carefully, and think about the long, long, long, long road ahead of all of us before peace -- with its painful compromises -- becomes thinkable, let alone achievable.

Spilling Palestinian blood is prohibited by Islam, faction declaresDate: 02 / 10 / 2006 Time: 11:54 تكبير الخط تصغير الخط Gaza - Ma'an - Shedding Palestinian blood is 'haram' ('prohibited'), the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) said in a statement issued in the Gaza Strip on Monday. The statement added, "We might be killed by the occupation and [for that] we can be patient and we can have sacrifices against the enemy, but to kill each other, that is unbearable." The PRC warned against the bloodshed while the Palestinian dream is being strangled. The statement asked why the world rejects the results of the elections and said, "Was there any fault committed by the Palestinian people when Palestinians voted freely in the elections and chose Hamas and the resistance to get rid of Oslo?" The statement called on all Palestinians to stop this act which is 'haram' (prohibited in Islam). "We call on you, everyone, in the name of Allah, everyone who is carrying a weapon, to aim it in the right direction, which is at the enemy," the statement said.
Think also of all the intermediaries, all the outside agencies, all the neighboring governments, all the "aid" agencies, all the compromised journalists and photographers, and all the agenda-laden analysts who are only too happy to assist in ensuring the weapons to which they refer are pointed in the right direction.

We're reserving a special space in our comments section (below) for Islamic clergy or individual adherents of the Islamic faith who are prepared to go public with a condemnation of this grotesque usurpation of their religion.

We plan to publish every single one that we receive.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

3-Oct-06: Palestinian Leadership: When The Going Gets Tough, Demand More Terror

Hamas and Fatah have spent the past few days blasting away at each other and at any unarmed civilians (Palestinian Arab civilians) unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. As the toll of dead and injured rises, the messages from their respective heads are distinctive and notable for (a) their utter lameness and (b) the implicit threat they contain for a tried-and-true solution.

First, listen the words as conveyed by Australia's ABC, of Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas regime:
As Prime Minister, I call on all citizens to be responsible and to rise above disagreements, especially in the face of a serious escalation from the occupying forces, who are threatening to expand their aggression in Gaza. I call for an end to incitement, and call for national unity to be preserved and the institutions of the people to be protected, especially now we are in Ramadan, which dictates that we protect our unity and brotherhood.
Then from the same source, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestine Authority and chief of the Fatah terror organization:
I call on all different factions to work hard on dialogue and to stand in the same line and to empower our national unity in confronting the occupation and the siege that is being implemented against our people and our cause. So we can get out of this crisis which threatens our national discourse and threatens to do away with all our national achievements and to throw our people in the garbage of internal fighting.
It's a fact that intended self-slaughtering bombers have been routinely intercepted at the gates of our cities by alert IDF actions on a depressingly regular basis over the past several months. Experience shows it only takes one slip, one piece of bad luck, for Palestinian Arab savages from Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaida to succeed in their devil's-work.

We're praying that a massive diversionary attack against Israelis is not the result of these tweedledum/tweedledee messages from Haniyeh and Abbas. If they stand for something other than a call for re-energized, renewed terror attacks on Israelis, then we're not sure what it is.

3-Oct-06: The Mess That Political Correctness Gets You Into

For the past 48 hours, rifle-toting fighters loyal to Fatah and to Hamas have been blowing each other's brains out in various parts of the Gaza Strip.

The casualties (10 dead, 100 wounded on Sunday; 2 more dead yesterday with many more wounded; the Palestinian government's cabinet building riddled with bullets) have been happening at the kind of fearsome rate you would expect among a population that's armed to the teeth. And naturally they include plenty of innocent, unarmed non-gunmen because - well - that's what happens when you tolerate savages with lethal weapons in their hands on your streets.

So how do the "objective", "impartial" news media report on the mutual massacres?

Just as you would expect, if - like us - you are appalled at the ongoing, unchecked group-think, ignorance and shallowness of reporters, photographers, headline writers, editors, "fixers" and news producers who ply their trade in this neighbourhood.

Take the BBC's Gaza specialist Alan Johnston who delivers yet another classic of the whitewash-Palestinian-terror genre of reportage for his employer's website. Immediately under the heading "Gazans bury dead after clashes" , Johnston starts his story from Gaza City like this:
"Once more, Gaza has been burying its dead. Not - this time - the victims of Israeli attacks, but the casualties of factional street fighting. "
Two notorious, blood-drenched terror organizations getting stuck into one another in the most violent way, and Mr Johnston frames their story as one of victimhood. The Israelis are of course the attackers - that's beyond obvious.

Not one syllable to suggest that both Fatah and Hamas openly declare themselves as engaged in an aggressive struggle against an occupying force (the Israelis) whose "crimes" against them justify any form of barbaric savagery. No, for Mr Johnston the victimhood of the Gazan Arabs is so self-evident that he's probably wondering why Zionists like us even bother to call him to account for this shallow piece of agenda-driven reportage. Oh, and if you're looking for a reference to terror anywhere in Johnston's BBC article, look elsewhere.

The Guardian, under a rather laconic header ("Hamas Closes Offices as Violence Spreads"), points out that many of the injuries occured when a gun battle erupted at Gaza City's main hospital. (Just imagine the vituperative fury and demands for UN Security Council sanctions if it had been Israel that directed gunfire at a Gazan hospital.)

Then it offers this piece of bald-faced malevolent untruth:
In addition to the internal Palestinian rivalry, there has been a series of Israeli military operations in Gaza since the capture in June of a soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, by Palestinian militants. Israel says it is acting to get its soldier back, but more than 200 Palestinians have died in the operations, most of them civilians. Yesterday, Israel's chief of staff said a much larger military operation in Gaza was being considered.
It might have been a tad more honest and accurate if the paper had explained that many of those 200 Palestinians were armed combatants and that the military operation under consideration is related to the unrelenting rocket attacks on peaceful Israeli settlement, towns and cities (never occupied, never disputed) located within firing range of Gaza. Rocket attacks which on any theory of international relations amount to acts of war. (Rocket attacks that we have been chronicling here daily for many months. But which are still basically unknown outside Israel.)

On this point, The Scotsman gets it right when it says:
"General Halutz [the IDF chief of staff] also raised the prospect of a broad ground offensive in Gaza to try to stop Palestinian militants from firing homemade rockets into Israel."
Its article is entitled "Unity hopes fade as infighting leaves eight Palestinians dead", and it includes this rather telling, even poignant, quote:
The ordinary people of Gaza were yesterday trying to avoid getting caught in the crossfire of fighting between Hamas and Fatah that continued for most of the day. "This is forbidden in Islam - we are in the holy month of Ramadan," said Majed Badawi, 33, who managed to escape uninjured after his car was hit by gunfire. "It's a shame on Hamas, who call themselves real Muslims, and a shame on Fatah as well. Why are they fighting and over what? We are victims because of both of them."
Why is it so rare to find a quality journal that is ready to go against the commonly-accepted PC narrative and chooses to depict - accurately - Gazan Arabs as victims of Palestinian terror?