Sunday, May 06, 2012

6-May-12: Are the Palestinians getting the freedom, the funding, the support that they demand from the United States? Yes and no.

Ramallah, February 2011: This masked Palestinian Arab burning
a US flag was described (in the original caption) as expressing
his solidarity with the protestors in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Your
taxes at work.
There's never enough plain, well-informed talk about how public funding from Europe has enabled  terrorism, hatred and self-delusion to remain central features in the 'achievements' of the Palestinian Arab leadership.

We took some small role during the era of the arch-terrorist Arafat's presidency in drawing attention to this. By writing and speaking, we and many others tried to show how foreign aid was the fuel that made these appalling aspects of PA rule possible. A handful of examples of articles we published:
Today, there are many who think the nepotism, the waste, the corruption, the incitement and most of all the organized suppression of genuine peace-building efforts among Palestinian Arabs somehow ended when Arafat was buried. That of course would be mere wishful thinking.

And it is by far not only European money that allows it all to happen. America's taxpaying citizens are entirely justified to wonder whether US aid to the Palestinian Arabs is going to the right people, in the right manner and subject to the right conditions. A Palestinian Arab journalist of notable integrity provides us with a reminder of why this is important.

Writing for the Gatehouse Institute, a US-based thinktank, Khaled Abu Toameh published a short analysis this past Friday entitled "What the Palestinians Want" (online here). He points out something that most Americans, and not only Americans, simply do not know: the largest provider of bilateral development assistance to the Palestinian Arabs happens to be the US. Via the USAID agency, the Palestinians have pulled in some $3.5 billion since 1994. These funds were earmarked for education, health, humanitarian assistance - the usual targets, plus programs  to enhance democracy and governance, private enterprise, water resources and infrastructure.

How successful has this flood of free money been? Here's a very recent insight. President Obama signed his approval of America's latest gift - some $147 million - to the Palestinian Arabs a week ago [source]. Almost immediately afterwards, the US consulate sponsored an event in Ramallah, the PA's prospering capital city, to mark World Press Freedom Day. How did that go?

The event did go ahead but the streets outside the glitzy Movenpick hotel were blocked by protesting Palestinian Arabs carrying placards that read: "USAID go out!" and "We reject aid from those who deny our people the right to self-determination." They chanted slogans denouncing US "bias" in favor of Israel and  accusing the US of "covering up" for Israeli "war crimes". Twenty or so Palestinian Arab professional unions and similar organizations, including absurdly the journalists' union, announced a boycott of the US-sponsored event. Not surprising then that many of the Palestinian journalists, invited to cover the event, stayed away. Their spokespeople explained this was because US "supports Israel" and is working toward "normalizing" relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

A few months earlier, visiting US diplomats including the ambassador experienced the indignity of having shoes hurled at them, a traditional expression of loathing in Arab culture.

So what is all this wailing and gnashing of teeth about? Abu Toameh explains it concisely:
Palestinians are reminded almost every day that the US, which has been providing them with billions of dollars, is a foe rather than a friend, although no one seems to ask how come a foe is so generous... The Palestinians want the US to endorse all their demands and force Israel to give them everything... No matter how much the US tries to help the Palestinians, it will always be viewed by many of them as an enemy. US aid should be conditioned not only on transparency and accountability, but also on an end to the campaign of hatred and incitement.
And will those millions make a difference? Khaled Abu Toameh nails it:
The Americans can pour billions of dollars on the Palestinians every year, but that won't change their hearts and minds, especially toward the US. The same applies to the rest of the Arab world, where the masses continue to strongly detest the US. The $147 million that Obama released to the Palestinians will probably help pay salaries of civil servants and improve infrastructure in Palestinian cities and villages, but the aid will surely not change the Palestinians' attitudes toward the US... The anti-US sentiments are the direct result of incitement by the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinians against the US. 
So does it make sense to keep funding them?

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