(April 20, 2020 / JNS) A global pandemic can teach us a lot about the priorities of a government.
Take the Palestinian Authority. Even with the outbreak of COVID-19, the P.A. continues to prioritize payments to convicted terrorists and their families over the distribution of salaries to teachers and social-welfare recipients.
Last year, the P.A. spent more than $14,000,000 on payments to jailed terrorists and the families of deceased terrorists. Based on figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that could buy 387,143 coronavirus test kits or 465 low-cost MIT ventilators.
As countries around the world shift their budgetary allocations to confront the pandemic, the P.A. has transparently exposed its values—salaries to murderers and their families continue to come before the well-being of Palestinians.
Maybe this should not be a surprise. After all, the P.A. spends six times more of its budget on terror payments than it does on welfare payments.
One cannot but wonder why Palestinian leaders are not held responsible for the current and forthcoming consequences of the outbreak of the coronavirus in the Palestinian territories.
For example, IfNotNow, a self-proclaimed Jewish-American “progressive” organization, recently tweeted:
“Thousands of Palestinian workers face a similar choice, made more difficult by the occupation, that workers across the world are facing: stay home with not enough money to feed the family or go to work and risk getting sick.”
Despite the clear attempt to circumvent the P.A.’s long record of rejectionist attitudes to peace, which would have allowed the Palestinians long ago to establish an independent state, IfNotNow shamelessly attempts to portray Israel as the principal perpetrator of Palestinian suffering during this ongoing pandemic.
Not only that, it completely disregarded Israel’s efforts to cooperate jointly with their counterparts to flatten the curve.
Contrary to IfNotNow, on March 24, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which has a long-standing reputation for its lack of praise for Israeli government activities, published its first “emergency situation report,” noting “unprecedented cooperation on efforts aimed at containing the epidemic” between Israeli and Palestinian medical teams.
The report also noted: “As part of this efforts, COGAT is facilitating four trainings for Palestinian medical teams, while the Israeli [Health Ministry] donated over 1,000 testing kits and thousands of PPEs [Personal Protective Equipment] to the West Bank and Gaza.”
Alon Bar, the deputy director-general for the United Nations and international organizations at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, commented: “We hold discussions and consultations every day with the relevant U.N. officials. We hear from them praise for the State of Israel for the coordination and good cooperation in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, which in our view is essential and necessary for an effective response to the spread of the virus.”
But IfNotNow has conveniently chosen to disregard this exemplary joint cooperation in an attempt to simultaneously condone the terrorism propagated by the Palestinian leadership and vilify Israel.
Another example of this strategy can be seen in IfNotNow’s Facebook page, which featured the following post: “40,000 Palestinians working in Israel have now lost their jobs. With the threat of unemployment looming overhead the Israeli Defense Ministry has given many West Bank residents the option to continue working in Israel … with the handoff that they do not return home for months.”
The implicit accusation here is that Israel is forcefully displacing Palestinians from their homes. What is worse, it implies that the State of Israel is taking advantage of this pandemic to assert its geo-political interests.
Again, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only does this assertion ignore the internationally recognized advantages of halting movements across borders during this pandemic, but it ignores the concerns of Palestinian officials. P.A. Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said that the continued movement of the workers between Israel and the West Bank was causing a “severe blow” to government efforts to curb the spread of the virus. In other words, movement across borders needed to come to an immediate halt.
Remember, too, that Israel’s economy is also in shambles. Three national elections over the course of a single year have cost the economy tens of millions of dollars. In a record high, more than a million Israelis have lost their jobs (nearly 25 percent of the country’s workforce).
Nevertheless, almost two-thirds of Israelis (63 percent) think that Israel should aid the Palestinians during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a study published by the Truman Institute for Peace at the Hebrew University.
So, what are the dangerous repercussions of IfNotNow’s inaccurate and misleading charges?
For one, it incites the demonization of Israel. But more importantly, by failing to hold the Palestinian leadership accountable, it fails the Palestinian people.
For 15 years, the Palestinians in the West Bank have been subjected to a dictatorship spearheaded by P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas. Young people with unused positive potential have gone through a system of education that centers on anti-Semitic and anti-Israel doctrine, incitement, hatred and terror at the expense of progress. Christians have been discriminated against while members of the LGBTQ community have been persecuted. The humanitarian crisis in the disputed territories did not begin with the outbreak of the coronavirus. The humanitarian crisis was created, and is renewed, every time Palestinian leaders prioritize the murder of Jews over the well-being of their people.
Those who call themselves human-right activists, should recognize that by dismissing the historic and ongoing human-rights violations by Palestinian leaders, they are condemning the Palestinian people to a future filled with never-ending violence and hopelessness.
Yoni Michanie, a former paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, holds a master’s degree in diplomacy and international security from IDC Herzliya. He is an Israel advocate, public speaker, Middle East analyst, and a campus advisor and strategic planner at CAMERA.
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