OpinionColumn

The Biden administration must stop paying terrorists to kill Jews

Empowering Iran and funding the Palestinian Authority is deadly and contravenes U.S. law.

Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, March 9, 2016. Credit: Flash90.
Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, March 9, 2016. Credit: Flash90.
Lauri B Regan
Lauri B. Regan
Lauri B. Regan is the vice chair of the executive board of the Endowment for Middle East Truth and the vice president and treasurer of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. She is a board member of Polaris National Security and the former chair of the American Zionist Movement’s Antisemitism, Anti-Zionism and Holocaust Denial Project.

While much of the American left’s attention over the past several years has been focused on ensuring that “Black Lives Matter,” it is starting to appear that, to the Biden administration and many Democrats, Jewish lives absolutely do not matter.

Since taking office, President Biden has focused on reversing everything positive that the Trump administration did to fight antisemitism and help Israel survive in the very dangerous neighborhood in which she exists, surrounded by enemies who seek to destroy her and facing terrorism on a daily basis.

In particular, Biden has been consumed with reversing three Trump policies that present existential dangers to Israel’s survival: Entering into a new Iran nuclear deal no matter the cost financially or existentially; empowering Palestinians despite their refusals to exist in peace side-by-side with the Jewish residents of Israel; and demonizing Israel—its policies and its democratically elected government—including boycotting scientific and technology institutes in Judea and Samaria (commonly known as the West Bank), eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights while shunning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Empowering Iran

President Trump withdrew from the Obama-led 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was enabling the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism to eventually obtain nuclear weapons. While Obama ignorantly believed that creating an Iranian hegemon in the region, notwithstanding its avowed promise of annihilating Israel, would allow the U.S. to comfortably withdraw from the Middle East, the void he left behind was filled by Russia and now China, both of which have developed a military alliance with Iran.

Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA was intended to slow Iran’s hegemonic ambitions through the implementation of a series of crippling sanctions on the regime. Unfortunately, rather than continue this successful “maximum pressure” campaign, Biden has spent his tenure undoing the damage to Iran’s economy and bending over backwards to negotiate a new, even weaker nuclear agreement.

Until recently, this effort was led by Biden-appointee, Hamas-loving Robert Malley, who was removed from his position several months ago under mysterious circumstances and is now under FBI investigation for purportedly sharing classified information with our enemies.

The most distressing aspect of Biden’s efforts with Iran are that, as he has a habit of doing, he is ignoring the rule of law and taking unilateral steps to reach an arrangement with Iran that is in direct contravention of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).

INARA was passed with a bipartisan consensus that any future deal with Iran directly or indirectly related to its nuclear program would require Congressional review prior to implementation, which includes limiting the president’s ability to grant Iran relief from sanctions.

Knowing that Congress will never approve the measures he has been taking, Biden has chosen on his own to avoid Congress and either not enforce sanctions, assist Iran in evading sanctions and/or specifically provide sanctions relief, thus easing the stress on the Iranian economy.

In a far cry from Trump’s policy of bringing Iran to its knees, Biden has also chosen to provide Iran with an economic windfall in the form of tens of billions of dollars in cash, including the repulsive and dangerous decision that he recently made to pay Iran a $6 billion ransom for the release of five American hostages.

While the administration claims the funds will be used for humanitarian purposes, everyone knows that money is fungible and will be used to continue Iran’s support of its terrorist proxies who murder innocent Israeli citizens, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In fact, one Islamic Revolutionary Guards commander shared in a video that paying Iran $1 billion per hostage would help Iran “balance its budget.” Biden accommodated by paying $1.2 billion per individual, thus incentivizing Iran to continue to kidnap Americans with guarantees of a financial windfall for its nefarious and deadly activities simply for doing so.

This is just a drop in the bucket, as Biden plans to issue multiple sanctions waivers that will move tens of billions of dollars to the terrorist regime that will be used to further its nefarious activities.

Funding Palestinian terrorism

Trump’s approach to Palestinian terrorism and intransigence was to cut off over $200 million of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority as well as discontinuing funding for the Hamas-supported United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

He also signed into law the bipartisan Taylor Force Act—named for an American murdered by a Palestinian terrorist—which prohibits certain American aid to the P.A. unless the P.A. ends its policy of rewarding Palestinian terrorists and their families for killing innocent Israelis, a policy known as “pay-for-slay.”

The days of preventing U.S. taxpayers from funding terrorism ended the moment Biden entered office. He immediately and unconditionally restored $235 million in U.S. aid to the P.A. and UNRWA, both of which support terrorism against Jewish civilians.

At the same time, Biden is once again ignoring the rule of law—this time the Taylor Force Act—notwithstanding that terrorism in Israel has been increasing dramatically since he entered office, with Palestinian martyrs and their families being rewarded financially with funds provided by the U.S.

Shockingly, we recently learned that the Biden administration knowingly funded Hamas’ terrorism when it made the decision to restart aid to the Palestinians. The Free Beacon reported that official documents reveal, “The Biden administration pushed through plans to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer aid to the Palestinians despite internal assessments that those plans [had a high risk of boosting] the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas.”

The report continued:

State Department officials in 2021 outlined the concerns in private communications, asking the Treasury Department to exempt them from laws that bar the U.S. government from injecting taxpayer aid into territories controlled by Palestinian terror groups. The Biden administration needed this authorization in order to move forward with its plans to unfreeze more than $360 million in U.S. funds for the Palestinian Authority that were cut off during the Trump administration due to the authority’s support for terrorists.

Notwithstanding the “high risk” assessment that Hamas would benefit from U.S. aid, the Biden administration plowed ahead, Israeli lives be damned. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a staunch supporter of Israel and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, stated:

Today’s report again confirms that Joe Biden and Biden administration officials are pathologically obsessed with undermining Israel. They made a day one decision to pour hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars into areas controlled by Palestinian terrorists, despite knowing that such actions would benefit terrorist groups that have the blood of Americans and Israelis on their hands. State Department officials knew that doing so risked violating the most basic American laws prohibiting assistance that benefits terrorists, and so they rushed to lawlessly exempt themselves from those restrictions.

The flow of money to fund terrorism against Jews must end

Israel is now on the precipice of a new intifada as violence ramps up while Israel’s enemies are empowered with financial rewards funding their terrorist activities. In August alone there have been three terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens resulting in the deaths of four innocent Jews, bringing the total number of Israelis killed by Palestinian “martyrs” to 28 this year.

The timing is not coincidental. It is occurring under Biden’s watch as he sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to the P.A. despite the escalation of violence in Judea and Samaria, and news that Iranian proxies Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are operating there. He has also authorized the release of tens of billions of dollars to the P.A.’s patron, Iran. The insanity must end.

The Biden administration must abide by the rule of law and not only enforce sanctions on Iran but also submit any plan, understanding, deal, agreement, pact or other arrangement that would send funds to the Iranian regime or that would directly or indirectly address its nuclear and other weapons and arms programs to Congress as required pursuant to INARA.

As stated by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) in a letter to the Biden administration, any “deal or understanding with Iran that does not permanently and completely halt Iran’s nuclear enrichment raises concerns that your administration is entrenching an Iranian nuclear program that threatens U.S. national security.”

The administration must also abide by the Taylor Force Act and end U.S. funding of the P.A.’s policy of pay-for-slay. Congress must also pass the Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act, which has been reintroduced in the House by Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and in the Senate by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and builds upon the Taylor Force Act by seeking to hold financial institutions that process pay-for-slay payments accountable, which would help prevent Palestinian terrorists from benefitting financially from murdering innocent civilians.

Taylor Force’s parents Stuart and Robbi noted,

The family of the terrorist who murdered Taylor, celebrated as a hero by Hamas, has been receiving martyr payments as a reward for his despicable actions. No foreign bank from any country, particularly those which claim to be U.S. allies, which participates in rewarding those who kill innocent Americans should be able to evade responsibility. We want to say thanks again to the co-sponsors of the bill for their leadership and for helping us ensure that Taylor did not die in vain.

It is time for American Jews, and all people of good moral conscience, to ask President Biden: Do Jewish lives matter? If so, why are you helping antisemitic terrorist regimes and individuals murder them?

Enough is enough. Stop funding terrorism, whether directly or indirectly, through the waiver of sanctions on Iran, the authorization of the release of billions of dollars to Iran and its proxies or funding for the P.A. and other Palestinian institutions like UNRWA that seek to incite hate towards and violence against Jews.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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