Have you ever read a news report about a Palestinian Arab who starved to death? Even one? Of course not, because it never happens. Yet the foreign minister of Sweden is now claiming that the Palestinian Authority must provide salaries to terrorists and their families because otherwise, they will “starve.”
Sweden, which was the first country in the European Union to recognize the P.A.-occupied territories as the “State of Palestine,” has given the Palestinians more than $700 million in aid since 1993. The Swedes are now in the middle of handing out another five-year, $183 million grant package to them.
In an interview by the Swedish Jewish newspaper “Judisk Krönika” (Jewish Chronicle) on March 19, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was asked how she felt about Swedish tax dollars contributing to the P.A.’s policy of providing salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists. The foreign minister squirmed.
“Are people supposed to starve to death or what? What are these families supposed to do if they don’t receive money?” she replied, according to a translation provided by the Swedish-born journalist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein.
That’s an interesting propaganda tactic. Pretend that what your opponent advocates will result in the death of innocent people. That immediately discredits anyone who disagrees with you. After all, anybody who wants to see little children—of any background or nationality—die of starvation is surely a wicked person who must be ignored.
We hear similar demagoguery when Palestinian advocates want Israel to permit the entry of all goods into Gaza. Right now, Israel prevents the Gaza Strip from importing weapons and dual-use items, such as concrete. Even U.S. Mideast “peace processor” Dennis Ross has admitted that allowing the entry of concrete is a mistake because the Hamas regime uses it to build terror tunnels instead of resident housing.
Hamas’s Western apologists often claim that little Palestinian children in Gaza are starving to death because of Israel’s cold-hearted blockade. In reality, the only way they are not eating enough is if their normal diet consists of hand grenades and automatic rifles.
You can be sure that if even a single Palestinian Arab ever died of starvation, it would be front-page news around the world for weeks on end. You haven’t heard about it because it hasn’t happened.
Do you know what percentage of Palestinian children in Gaza are malnourished? Not starving, but simply malnourished? UNICEF screened 7,969 Gaza children for malnutrition-related disorders in 2016. It found a total of 489 children were malnourished. That’s 6 percent.
Wallström either knows that number or could obtain it in two minutes. Yet she prefers to falsely suggest that large numbers of kids are on the brink of “starvation” and would drop dead if the P.A. didn’t give them financial rewards for the murderous attacks carried out by their imprisoned or deceased parents.
And in case you’re wondering how the Palestinian malnutrition rate of 6 percent compares to a similar rate in the United States, note that according to the organization “Feeding America,” one in six (16.7 percent) of American children “don’t know when their next meal will be.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 16.6 percent of American households with children under the age of 6 live with “food insecurity,” which is defined as being “uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet their needs.”
A few days after the interview with Wallström, it occurred to somebody in her press office that the minister’s comments might sound less than plausible. So, they sent a “clarification” to the interviewer, insisting that Sweden’s aid to the P.A. does not go directly into the pockets of imprisoned terrorists or their families.
That’s just one more cheap trick. Foreign aid obviously is fungible. Sweden’s lavish aid grants to the P.A. free up other funds are then used to reward terrorism.
If the Swedes are truly concerned about the quality of nutrition among the families of imprisoned or dead terrorists, why don’t they ship them food? Instead of sending the money to the PA.—whose notoriously corrupt leaders routinely siphon off funds intended for humanitarian purposes—Sweden could send care packages directly to families.
That said, the families of terrorists shouldn’t count on receiving packages of Swedish meatballs any time soon. Officials in the Nordic country don’t genuinely care about the well-being of individual Palestinians. They only spout this nonsense about “starving” children when they want to bash Israel or protect the P.A. from criticism.
It’s just one more rhetorical weapon in the never-ending international campaign of harassment against the Jewish state.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.