Aid to the Palestinians Is Counterproductive to Peace
President Trump has suggested that the U.S. start cutting aid to the Palestinians because of their reluctance to negotiate in good faith for peace with Israel. Like the mouse that roared, Palestinian officials are acting with outrage at the president's tweets. They seem to feel that they have a God-given right to U.S. taxpayer money.
To scope out the situation, we first need to look at how much aid (welfare) is involved. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has a budget of approximately $1.23 billion of which $355 million comes from Uncle Sam. From that, about $95 million goes to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. On top of that, America also sends $290 million to the Palestinians through the U.S. Agency for International Development. Since 1994, this has come to approximately $5.2 billion.
UNRWA claims that nearly 20% of its budget goes toward education. This might seem like a lofty goal, but one has to wonder why anti-Israeli hate is allowed to be taught to the young Palestinians in their schools. This in and of itself is a major reason why the Palestinians are trapped in a rut of eternal victimhood.
The Palestinian Authority's new textbooks for first to fourth grade demonizes Israel and glorify "martyrdom," a report published Sunday claims, citing an "alarming deterioration" since a previous study.
The report, by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), says that the 2016-2017 elementary school curriculum in the P.A. "teaches students to be martyrs, demonizes and denies the existence of Israel, and focuses on a 'return' to an exclusively Palestinian homeland."
Israeli officials say these textbooks, which show maps that don't include Israel and have passages in them that glorify terrorist attackers, are a key source of incitement that drives terror attacks. To this we can add that they lock in yet another Palestinian generation to the delusion that Israel doesn't exist and that someday, the Palestinians will come to have the land that is now Israel.
In February, at his first White House meeting with President Donald Trump, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said incitement is a key factor in the long-running conflict with the Palestinians. "They continue to call for Israel's destruction – inside their schools, inside their mosques, inside their textbooks. You have to read it to believe it," he said.
"I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate that they've taught from an early age," Trump said, responding to a reporter's question about concessions each side needs to make.
Apart from the schools, the Palestinians are also known to give money to the families of terrorists, whom they call "martyrs." Whose money is that?
Even when this aid is legitimately spent, it still has a downside. It relieves the Palestinian leadership from the responsibility of looking out for its people's welfare. It locks the Palestinian people into a continual state of dependency while allowing their leadership to "heroically" thumb its nose at bargaining with Israel in good faith. Looked at in this light, one can argue that U.S. aid to the Palestinians is counterproductive. It allows those Arabs to avoid reality and perpetuate their myths – myths that keep them chained to a status of permanent refugees who, in large part, have their food, shelter, and health care dependent on the generosity of others, mainly in the West. This has been going on since 1949 – nearly seventy years.
Under these conditions, it is no less than obnoxious that any U.S. money goes to the Palestinians. If others want to fund them, let them. If the Palestinians want to be intransigent, let them, but not on our dime. It is to be hoped that President Trump is serious when he says the U.S. might cut aid given to the West Bank and Gaza. That money is better used at home – and the cuts could sober up the Palestinian leadership.
One last thought on this aid: When was the last time the Palestinians ever said "thank you" to America for its largesse? It seems that simple gratitude might be another virtue missing from their palette.