Give a violent society money to improve the quality of people’s lives and they will become more peaceful. At least, that’s the theory. As people get jobs, earn and save more, raise larger families, build bigger homes and drive better cars, they have less time, and less desire, to engage in terrorism.
For decades, this has been a primary motivation for the international funding of the Palestinian Authority. In Gaza, too, numerous projects, chiefly under the auspices of UN agencies, are funded by other nations.
Except that it hasn’t worked.
On March 13 this year, Palestinian Media Watch, a non-profit research institute engaged in monitoring Arabic-language media in the PA since 1996, reported, “US aid to the Palestinians fuels terror, not peace.” PMW’s review of data in the US Congressional Research Service for the years 2011 through 2022 reveals that, as US aid increased, so did the number of murders as the result of Palestinian terror. Conversely, as aid decreased, so did the number of murders. During this time, US aid for Palestinian-Arabs totaled $8.228 billion.
During the presidency of Donald Trump, who cancelled some 80 percent of US aid to the PA, the number of murders as the result of Palestinian terror dropped to three, the lowest of the entire 12-year period. When current US President Joe Biden restored massive amounts of aid in January 2021, the number of murders spiked to the previous highs of 2015.
Already years earlier, American legal scholar Thane Rosenbaum opined in The Washington Post (April 28, 2017) that the foreign funds were merely “lavish incentives to commit violence.” Maurice Hirsch of PMW concludes: “While US aid to the Palestinians flows freely, Palestinian terrorists feel emboldened and murder Israelis. Only when the US demonstrates moral clarity and stops aid because the PA promotes terror, do the Palestinians understand that terror does not pay.”
Numerous statements from PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his cohorts in recent years have confirmed that payments to the families of terrorists come before other payments.
“We emphasize that the issue of the families of the martyrs and the prisoners is at the top of our list of priorities, and any amount [of money] we have will be earmarked for them” (PA TV, “Stories from Palestine,” March 5, 2022).
“Even if we are left with one penny, it will be paid to the families of the martyrs and the prisoners” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida [official PA daily], January 8, 2023).
What does that mean practically?
“As part of its Pay-for-Slay policy,” explains Hirsch (PMW, March 15, 2022), “the PA pays monthly salaries to imprisoned terrorists and released terrorists, simply as a reward for their participation in terror. The PA also pays monthly allowances to injured terrorists and to the families of dead terrorists. Cumulatively, Palestinian Media Watch estimates that in 2022 the PA spent no less than 865 million shekels [US$239 million] paying these terror rewards.”
The monthly stipends pay more than most jobs in the PA, making anti-Israel violence very attractive for unemployed Palestinian-Arabs. The results are disturbing. What country would tolerate it? Following is a list of the monthly acts of anti-Israel violence committed by Palestinians, resulting in 43 deaths and 147 injuries in the period March 2022 through February 2023, excluding attacks on soldiers.
While payments to terrorists’ families continued uninterrupted, a doctors’ strike was narrowly averted last year when the PA didn’t keep its pledges to increase doctors’ meager salaries (PMW, March 15, 2022). Likewise patient care was under-funded (PMW, June 23, 2022). Medicine and treatments, in particular for
cancer patients, were unavailable because there was no money to pay for it.
This year, teachers in the PA have been on strike since February 5 for wages owed them since a year ago. Over a million children have been affected.
Writes Hirsch (PMW, March 15, 2022): “True to his promise, Abbas has sanctified the PA terror reward payments even if it means punishing the PA’s teachers, the PA’s doctors, or even Palestinian cancer patients.”
“Teachers and schools at the UN agency for Palestinians [United Nations Relief and Works Agency–UNRWA] regularly call to murder Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism.”
This is the conclusion of a scathing 100-page report released jointly on March 14 this year by the Swiss human-rights organization UN Watch and the textbook-reviewing organization Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education.
· Staff at UNRWA’s Al-Zaytun Elementary School in Gaza “glorified terrorists and encouraged martyrdom.” Children in the fifth grade “were taught to glorify Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who carried out the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre in which 38 civilians including 13 children were killed. Photos of Mughrabi were hung on the blackboard, depicting her as a model “hero” and “fighting leader” to be emulated. Mughrabi has numerous streets (and children) named after her.
· In the UNRWA Syria offices, Labibeh Iskandarani posted a photograph of Adolf Hitler with a text urging him to awaken because “there are still some people you need to burn.”
The report lists dozens of similar cases of “incitement by UNRWA staff, in breach of the agency’s stated policies of zero tolerance for racism, discrimination or antisemitism in its schools and educational materials.”
Hundreds of educators, staff and teachers at 30 UNRWA schools were found to “promote hate and violence on social media,” or were involved in “drafting, supervising, approving, printing and distributing hateful content to students.” According to the report, “The hatred is systemic at UNRWA.”
Reports such as this one are not particularly new. They have been released to government and UN officials for years. The UN has responded with rebuke of the report authors, denials, and cosmetic temporary suspensions of a handful of employees who made a “mistake.”
UNRWA’s budget for last year was $1.6 billion. So where is that money coming from?
It comes from donor countries that fund Palestinian projects in the PA or Gaza either directly or through local governments, or via UN agencies such as UNRWA.
And although funding has been reduced since PMW revealed the PA’s nefarious Pay-for-Slay terrorist-reward program, billions still make their way to Palestinian coffers, for propaganda causes through schools and media programming, or disappear in private accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere.
Of the twenty largest foreign donors just to UNRWA programs in 2022, only three were Muslim countries. The lion’s share of UNRWA’s $1.6 billion budget is provided by Western countries.