U.S. officials say that President Joe Biden is planning to visit a major Palestinian Arab hospital in Jerusalem during his upcoming trip to Israel. Good. Maybe it will galvanize the president to rethink the racist attitudes that are inherent in the administration’s treatment of the Palestinian Arabs.
Al Makassed, the hospital which Biden is reportedly planning to visit, is the largest of six Palestinian Arab hospitals in Jerusalem. It is in the midst of a financial crisis caused by the Palestinian Authority.
The problem is that the P.A. regularly refers patients to Al Makassed from the hospitals in P.A. territory but then fails to pay the bills for their treatment. The Arab news service Middle East Monitor reported last month that the P.A. currently owes $47 million to Al Makassed. That was three weeks ago; by now, the debt is probably even larger.
As a result, Al Makassed has been unable to pay its staff or pay for the equipment that it needs. The situation is so bad that recently the hospital was forced to close its doors except for emergency patients.
But fear not! The Biden administration appears to be ready to come to the P.A.’s rescue. The Jerusalem Post reports that a Biden visit “could mean renewed funding after the Trump administration cut $25 million to the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network, of which Al Makassed is a member.”
It seems obvious that if Biden goes to Al Makassed, it will involve writing them a check. He’s not going to visit a bunch of bed-ridden cancer patients and then tell reporters, “Sorry, we don’t have any money for them.” If he wasn’t preparing to give them a sizable donation, he would pick some other site to visit.
Biden should not be cleaning up the P.A.’s mess. Instead, he should say to its leadership: “Stop paying terrorists, and start paying your hospital bills.”
According to Brig. Gen.(res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, “the Palestinian Authority’s legislation and allocations of monthly salaries and benefits rewarding imprisoned and released terrorists, and the families of “martyrs,” amount to $300 million annually.”
That $300 million is enough to pay the P.A.’s tab at Al Makassed six times over.
The problem, in other words, is not a lack of funds. The P.A. has more than enough money to pay its bills at Al Makassed. It simply chooses not to. And why should it when the Biden administration can be counted on to foot the bill with American taxpayers’ money?
This is where the racism comes in.
Adults pay their bills. The Biden administration treats the leaders of the P.A. as children—or worse. The implication of letting the P.A. get away with not paying its bills is that there is something inherently inferior about Palestinian Arabs that makes them incapable of understanding that they have to pay the money that they owe.
Is Biden saying that Palestinian Arabs are, by their nature, too stupid, too irresponsible or too immoral to pay their bills? All three, it seems.
This is yet another illustration of what is known as the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” a phrase coined by Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
Biden is, in effect, saying to the P.A.: “We expect you to stiff the hospitals and give the money to terrorists instead. You’re too stupid to know better. So we’ll just keep bailing you out. We’ll pay the hospitals, so you don’t have to.”
And so the Al Makassed Hospital has become the collateral damage in this tragedy, a victim of the Biden administration’s “soft bigotry” towards Palestinian Arabs.
Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism.”