Samantha Power and the business of funding terrorism

Won’t someone please help the poor terrorists?

Samantha Power. Photo by Eric Bridiers.
Samantha Power. Photo by Eric Bridiers.
Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli-born journalist who writes for conservative publications.

Samantha Power, who once called for a military invasion and occupation of Israel, appeared in her new role as the head of USAID to complain about aid to terrorists.

Power made her complaints at the virtual winter event for the Alliance for Middle East Peace, an organization that, like anything middle eastern with the word “peace” in it, is anything but peaceful. Nevertheless, ALLMEP managed to lobby Congress into allocating a quarter of a billion dollars to promote “peacebuilding” efforts by organizations like its anti-Israel member groups.

“Investments in the health and wellbeing of Palestinians benefits everyone, including Israelis,” Power complained. “Yet today, it has become controversial to provide life-saving aid to the Palestinian people and invest in their development.”

Having the United States fund a welfare state in the West Bank and Gaza, buying butter so that Hamas and the PLO are free to focus on buying guns, missiles and suicide bombers helps no one, least of all Israelis. The PLO’s Palestinian Authority paid out some $150 million in 2019 to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists as part of its “Pay-to-Slay” program.

The PLO’s puppet regime has over $4 billion in debt, and keeps claiming that it’s on the verge of bankruptcy. And yet despite pressure from its donors, it has refused to stop paying terrorists.

Power is well aware of this, even as she decided to play dumb in her address to her partners.

The Alliance for Middle East Peace cheered Power’s nomination to head USAID. And Power in turn praised ALLMEP for convincing Congress to allocate $250 million to promote “peace” which will be allocated through USAID.

Power, the NGOs and the terrorists win while Americans lose. Again.

Power, whose tenure as Obama’s United Nations ambassador marked new lows in hostility toward Israel, has wasted little time in ushering in a new era at USAID. USAID, under Power, will provide 25 percent of its funding directly to “local implementers,” which will reduce control and accountability over taxpayer money. It will make it easier for that money to fall into the hands of Islamic terrorists.

When former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promoted an NGO transparency bill that would disclose foreign governments funding anti-Israel groups in Israel, Samantha Power, then Obama’s U.N. ambassador, warned him that it would harm Israeli “democracy.”

Before that, Power had met with a variety of groups including anti-Israel organizations like B’Tselem and Mossawa. The year before, Mossawa’s director had been arrested at a “Gaza Strip solidarity rally,” and the anti-Israel group has falsely accused Israel of apartheid.

Under Obama, Power was accused of trying to delist a terrorist group tied to Al-Qaeda and Hamas so that it could receive USAID cash.

Now that Power runs USAID, she has even more leeway to reshape its aid agenda.

Even when the aid really is humanitarian, anything that the PLO does is aimed at promoting its terrorist campaign and trying to expand its territorial gains.

Take the case of the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.

Power’s USAID boasted that it provided $10 million to EJHN. The P.A. has pushed large numbers of patients from the territory under its control in the West Bank into EJHN hospitals. Rather than focus on its own hospitals, the PLO has deliberately outsourced medical care to hospitals in Jerusalem because it provides effective propaganda.

Every time Israel attempts to reduce the ability of PLO and Hamas terrorists to enter Israel, the terrorists and their media allies clamor that this will hurt Arab Muslim patients traveling to Jerusalem for treatment. But it’s the PLO which maintains a situation that makes it unnecessarily difficult for its patients to receive medical treatment, for political reasons.

The PLO views even medical treatment as a vehicle for asserting a claim to Jerusalem. It chooses to make its own people miserable and to make obtaining health care difficult because manufacturing misery in every area of life creates victims and promotes its war against Israel.

The militarization of humanitarian aid is commonplace among Islamic terrorist groups, whether it’s the Houthis siphoning off aid in Yemen and deliberately creating a famine, or Hamas reselling expired medicine, but the PLO has been particularly creative in manufacturing and profiting from humanitarian crises. And Power is happy to play into their hands.

Also appearing at the ALLMEP gala was Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, the director of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Program at the United States Institute of Peace. Ellenbogen had previously falsely claimed that Abbas represented a “moderate alternative to Hamas” and had complained about “Washington’s inability to engage directly with Hamas.”

The Institute of Peace is controlled and funded by the United States government.

“To be an effective broker, the Biden administration will have to engage closely with the Palestinians, not just Israel,” Ellenbogen has argued.

These are the sorts of deadly cliches that have killed quite a few Israelis and Americans.

At a Senate hearing, Power trafficked in the same old false narratives that “economic deprivation and despair helps create a receptive environment for radicalization.”

Islamic terrorists routinely come from wealthy families. Terrorists, whether it’s Osama bin Laden or Muntasir Shalabi, who carried out an attack in Israel using his silver SUV and who allegedly enjoyed a lifestyle that included multiple homes in Israel and America, as well as multiple wives, are not poor or economically deprived. People who are genuinely poor have to work for a living. Terrorism and political violence is generally a game for those who don’t.

Power knows all this, but the myth of poor terrorists who become radicalized only because they have to choose between affording a bomb vest and putting bread on the table is a politically convenient pretext for justifying their campaign to kill Jews and destroy the Jewish state.

Hamas is the third richest terrorist organization in the world, yet we never stop hearing about how desperate life is in Gaza. Khaled Mashaal, its boss, has an estimated net worth of $2.6 billion.

Upon his death, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat’s fortune was said to be in the billions. Mahmoud Abbas, his successor, has a nest egg estimated to be in excess of over $100 million. While he claims that his people are starving, he reportedly flies around in a $50 million private jet. One son owned several companies, with $35 million in revenues, and another son bought a $1.5 million luxury apartment in London.

Economic deprivation isn’t the issue here. What’s “radicalizing” the terrorists is just how much money and power they can gain from being terrorists. And, just as in Afghanistan, the United States has been financing the lifestyles of the rich and infamous Islamic terrorists.

If the United States stopped “investing in their health and wellbeing,” there would be less terror.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.

This article was first published by FrontPage Magazine.

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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