Thursday, May 04, 2017

04-May-17: When Mahmoud met Donald: Thinking about the PA's Rewards for Terror scheme

In the White House yesterday [Image Source]
We had a welcome opportunity yesterday to publicly express some things about the Palestinian Authority's blood-soaked Rewards for Terror scheme. That's not its official name but it does describe what actually goes on.

The occasion was a formal visit by PA president Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, and a perceptive article by Ben Cohen: "As Trump Meets Abbas, Victim Families Press Issue of Financial Rewards for Palestinian Terrorists" [Ben Cohen | The Algemeiner | May 3, 2017]

Some excerpts (and Arnold Roth is quoted):
The PA currently spends $300 million annually on the payments – close to 8 percent of its budget. Critics say that the PA actively incentivizes terrorism, by promising financial rewards and national glory for those who participate...
“There are some small indications that ‘concern’ was expressed in the name of the United States during the Trump/Abbas encounter concerning the ongoing PA payments scheme that rewards Palestinian Arabs for engaging in terror,” noted Arnold Roth, whose 15 year old daughter, Malki, was murdered in the suicide bombing of Jerusalem’s Sbarro pizza restaurant in August 2001.
“The passions that the prisoner payments scheme arouses in Palestinian Arab society seem never to be adequately captured in mainstream news reports – I worry that they are not well-enough understood by the people now exercising power in Washington,” Roth told The Algemeiner.
Roth argued that western governments enjoy leverage over the PA which they are reluctant to exercise.  “Mahmoud Abbas’ perpetually insolvent administration stays in business only because of massive hand-outs of foreign aid,” he stated. “In a sane world, the providers of those donations – the US and the European Union in particular – would be attaching real conditions to them. But mystifyingly they don’t.”
Stephen Flatow, whose 20 year old daughter Alisa was murdered in the 1995 suicide bombing of an Israeli bus by Islamic Jihad, asserted that “raising the issue for discussion is just not enough.”
...Neither Trump nor Abbas mentioned the issue of the prisoner payments at their joint appearance on Wednesday. “If the issue is not raised, I wouldn’t understand the rationale for the US position and I’d be extremely disappointed,” Flatow said. “The PA’s payments to terrorists –on  a sliding scale no less, based on the number of Jews killed or injured – serves to encourage others to commit terror.” [Read the whole article here]
It's worth noting that Wednesday's Abbas state visit came as the US Congress is weighing legislation (described here: "Senators introduce Taylor Force Act to cut Palestinian funding over terror rewards", JNS, September 30, 2016)
to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards for terrorism. U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC.), Dan Coats (R-IN.) and Roy Blunt (R-MO.) introduced the Taylor Force Act, which would require the U.S. secretary of state to certify the Palestinian Authority has ended its policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorist and their surviving family members. The bill also calls on the PA to publicly condemn terror attacks and to take steps to bring the perpetrators to justice.
We wrote about Taylor Allen Force [here] about 14 months ago. An American visitor to Israel as part of a Vanderbilt University school trip and a graduate of West Point Military Academy, he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian Arab terrorist who also injured 10 others in an attack on the seashore at Jaffa.

Poster at a British protest against the incitement of the PA
[Image Source]
The legislation that bears his name is not yet US law. It was referred to the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs in February [source] and is currently working its way through the system.

Whatever the outcome, the name of the murdered young US veteran will get considerably more respect there than it did when the "moderate" Arab-operated-but-European-financed Ma'an News Agency turned its attention, so to speak, to what was done to him:
Ma'an says the attacker is a 22-year-old from a village, al-Zawiya, near Qalqiliya. It gives his name as Bashar Masalha. What does Ma'an tell its readers about the man who was murdered by the villager? Not his name, not his age, not his background or anything about his life; just that he was "an American tourist". Nor do they mention how an Israeli musician, sitting near the beach and strumming on his guitar, gave the fleeing knife-man a massive whack on the head, destroying his musical instrument but slowing the murderer down so that the armed security people in pursuit could catch up with him and eventually stop him,
Not surprisingly, the Arabic version of the Ma'an report, the one which the editors assume will not be read by people outside the Arab world, honors the knife-man in a sub-heading as "shaheed", or "martyr". Mr Force is not mentioned at all. Hamas, whether because it's true or because they wish it were, issued a Tweet [here] saying the killer came from its ranks. The American man he murdered is dismissed as "a Zionist"... ["09-Mar-16: News reporting and how it ensures more terror"]
(By the way, people concerned with the pursuit of peace and a much better future for children on our side and on the Arab side as well certainly ought to know more about Ma'an and the hideous values it disseminates. We try to do our bit.) 

Ben Cohen's Algemeiner article ends with a quote worth emphasizing from Grant Rumley, a Palestinian affairs expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noting 
the centrality of the prisoner payments issue to Palestinian internal politics. “Any change on the payments policy will cost Abbas dearly at home,” Rumley said.
Yes, changing the Rewards for Terror scheme will be expensive for Abbas.

But we think the question for non-Palestinian Arabs is: so what? Should we be worrying about the political future of this 82 year-old kleptocrat, this inveterate inciter to hatred, this career politician now in the thirteenth year of his four-year term as president and continuing to hold tight for more?


Abbas parading with freshly-freed terrorists, all of them killers,
in 2014. In the days after this rally took place, very one of the ex-prisoners
enjoyed a Rewards for Terror payday beyond anything of which they
dreamed - all of it funded by the foreign aid budgets of EU states and the US. 
We should care instead whether the payments - funded mainly by ordinary and unwitting taxpayers in the United States and Europe under the guise of international foreign aid - that serve to perpetuate a culture of lethal bigotry and the weaponizing of Palestinian Arab children can be stopped as a matter of urgency.

We should care about what it will take to cultivate a new and completely different kind of leadership among the Palestinian Arabs, one that will focus on reshuffling the core values of their own people so that building them a better future takes precedence over stealing ours.

It could be that Abbas agrees. In yesterday's meeting, he said (according this source):
We are coming into a new opportunity a new horizon that would enable us to bring about peace... [Associated Press, May 3, 2017]
Can someone urgently show him and his entourage the way to the exit? That new horizon is needed desperately.

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