(December 23, 2022 / JNS) In 2018, the Trump administration signed into law the Taylor Force Act to prevent the U.S. government from sending funds to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) as long as it continues to fund terrorism. Now, a new lawsuit supported by victims of terror is seeking to compel the Biden administration to follow suit.
Filed by America First Legal, a new firm founded and led by former Trump presidential senior advisor Stephen Miller, the lawsuit identifies the Biden administration funding the P.A. with more than $1 billion in taxpayer dollars as a violation of the Taylor Force Act, named after a Vanderbilt University student and former army officer stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in 2016.
“Joe Biden is breaking the law by allowing our tax dollars to fund terrorism in Israel, and he must be stopped. I have deep respect for my fellow plaintiffs who have been tragically and directly impacted by Pay to Slay, and I am proud to be on the same team as we hold this failed administration accountable,” U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) said, referring to the P.A. terror-funding policy’s nickname.
Miller said, “Our lawsuit seeks to stop President Biden from violating the Taylor Force Act and illegally subsidizing terrorism against Americans who visit or live in Israel…Thank you to Dr. Ronny Jackson, Taylor’s parents Stuart and Robbi Force, and Sarri Singer, a survivor of a Palestinian suicide attack against a Jerusalem bus, for your courage in fighting back against the lawless Biden administration.”
Advocates for victims of terror Stuart Force (Taylor’s father) and Sarri Singer, director of Strength to Strength, offered their perspectives on the new lawsuit.
Force said he sought “to put a human face on the horrific effects of the Palestinian Authority’s Pay for Slay policy. Multiply the devastating loss of our beloved son Taylor by the hundreds of Israeli families that have also been impacted by this inhumane atrocity of Pay for Slay and you will understand why we are committed to ending the flow of U.S. dollars to the P.A.”
Singer, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, described her own experience with terrorism which inspired her to participate and form her organization.
“On June 11, 2003, I was on bus 14 in Jerusalem when a terrorist who was recruited by Hamas boarded my bus strapped with explosives and detonated,” she recalled. “He injured over 100 of us and murdered 17 innocent people including all those seated and standing around me. It is almost 20 years later, and I am still dealing with the long-term effects of the attack. There is still shrapnel in me that is not operable and not a day goes by that I am not reminded that a simple bus ride to meet a friend for dinner turned into one of the largest bus bombings in Israel during that time.”
Force could not understand why Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were breaking the law passed in his son’s name. “It is a total mystery to me why Biden and Blinken are violating a federal law, the Taylor Force Act. Only they know what motivates them,” he said. “If they understood what motivates Israel’s enemies, the elimination of the State of Israel, I would think they would stop any funding that could possibly find its way into the wrong hands. Honestly, I don’t know why this administration makes the decisions it does on any issue.”
Singer echoed that sentiment.
“I couldn’t even begin to guess [the Biden administration’s] motivations, but I wouldn’t think that they have bad intentions,” she said. “The fact is the law is clear and that is what matters. Many people worked very hard to pass the Taylor Force Act which is so important. Under the law, as long as the Palestinian Authority continues to use foreign aid to fund the pay for slay program, U.S. funds should not be directly sent to them.”
Jackson sees political motives in the Biden administration ignoring the Taylor Force Act. He said, “I believe Joe Biden is doing his best to score cheap political points with the antisemites in his party who have openly advocated for the Palestinian Authority while condemning one of our greatest allies, Israel.”
Force and Singer explained how the funds provided by the Biden administration to the P.A. were in violation of the law. “Aside from the increased rocket barrages, tunnel construction, and increased frequency of attacks on innocent civilians when ‘foreign aid’ increases, the money is used in its widespread PR campaign to incite violence and foment hatred of Israel and the United States,” Force said.
Singer emphasized how these taxpayer dollars intended to aid the Palestinian people would only exacerbate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Funds that supposedly go to help the Palestinian people are actually being used to pay terrorists and their families,” Singer said. “Foreign aid should be going to help people, not to incentivize violence and encourage future terrorist attacks. It only gets in the way of peace. As long as the conflict continues, both sides will suffer.”
Force was realistic about the time it would take to change minds, but said this lawsuit was an important step.
“I understand that changing beliefs and ideology is a long term prospect. By stopping the flow of dollars that funds Pay for Slay, we hope to change their criminal behavior. Ending Pay For Slay is a necessary step in the search for a better life for all,” he said.
Jackson emphasized that “the American people want their taxpayer dollars to be used responsibly.”
“In the Palestinian Authority’s case, we know they are not exclusively using our money for humanitarian efforts,” said the Texas lawmaker. “They are using it to advance their anti-Israel agenda, including paying people to carry out terrorist attacks. The Taylor Force Act gave the P.A. an ultimatum: stop funding terrorism if you want humanitarian aid. The P.A. brazenly chose terrorism over their own people, and Joe Biden has decided he simply does not care that blood is on his hands.”
David Litman, senior analyst at Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) said, “While Israel’s designation of terror-linked NGOs led to extensive, and often hyperbolic and misleading, media coverage, virtually none was given to the Palestinian Authority’s decrees that effectively nationalized Palestinian NGOs, including those to which U.S. aid is being funneled. This lawsuit should help direct attention to this reality and the implications it has for efforts to circumvent the Taylor Force Act.”
Singer pointed out the consequences of the resuming of American funding for the PA.
“Unsurprisingly, since the Biden administration resumed this illegal funding, Palestinian terrorism has greatly increased in Israel,” she said.
She also revealed how she continues to live with the painful effects of the terrorism she experienced nearly 20 years ago.
“It’s very real,” said Singer. “I think people think you go through something like this and OK, a year or two goes by, and everything’s fine, and that’s not the reality of the situation. Everyone deals with it differently and everyone deals with trauma differently…For me what’s been really incredible and has helped in the healing has been the connection with other victims of terrorism, that peer-to-peer support piece…I don’t want our club to get any bigger. This is a club none of us asked to join.”
She added, “For me in the healing process, having justice is really important…There has to be more accountability, part of that healing process is not to sit back but to take action…like taking action like these suits.”
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