While I served as the deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the No. 2 position in the $40 billion U.S. government agency, I often asked why it was in America’s national security interest to fund the Palestinians. The answers from career staff that I would inevitably get were: First, because it’s in our national interest to promote a two-state solution. Second, if we and other like-minded countries don’t fund the Palestinians, they might fall into the arms of Islamic radicals. Third, this is a way for us to guide them to become developed—the so-called journey to self-reliance—and finally, the Israelis want us to.
I didn’t believe any of it then, and I don’t believe any of it today.
Let’s look at each of the arguments presented for assistance to the Palestinians—both representatives of Fatah, the fat cats who call Ramallah home and who are direct descendants of and adherents to the philosophies of the Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat, as well as the bloodthirsty adherents to Hamas who make their homes in five-star hotels in Qatar. Make no mistake, the two groups are cut from the same cloth and have no interest in a two-state solution. If Fatah were any different from Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, its leaders would not be standing by Hamas at this moment. However, they serve obediently as Hamas’s mouthpieces to Western donors like, tragically, the United States.
Does our national security interest dictate support of Palestinians?
We actually have evidence that demonstrates that our national security interest derives no benefit from support to Palestinians. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. government halted all assistance to the Palestinians. Contributions to the coffers of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and to the U.N. Relief Works Agency for Palestinian “Refugees” (UNRWA) in Gaza stopped flowing. The U.S. embassy’s own USAID office was closed. Additionally, in March 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law the Taylor Force Act, which makes it illegal for the United States to provide assistance to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continues to pay salaries to “resistance fighters” and the families of so-called Palestinian “martyrs,” another word for suicide terrorists.
Guess what? Israel was able to keep a lid on much of the terror activities emanating from Hamas-administered Gaza and P.A.-administered territories.
The Trump administration recognized that the leadership in both Ramallah and Gaza is in no way representative of the Palestinian people in the same sense that we in the United States enjoy representation. Abbas has been “president” of the Palestinian Authority since his sole election in 2005. He is now in the 18th year of his four-year term. Gaza, similarly, has been ruled by Hamas terrorists since 2006 when it was popularly elected by a wide margin over Abbas’s Fatah group. Make no mistake: Gazans elected Hamas in an overwhelming majority, and all polling indicates that were elections held today, Hamas would enjoy even wider margins than before.
UNRWA is a farcical U.N. agency that exists to perpetuate its own existence. The “relief” work that it undertakes is flagrantly antisemitic and in league with Gaza’s Hamas rulers. UNRWA’s presence actually embeds further in Gazans the desire to eradicate all of the Jews. Ostensibly, UNRWA is present in Gaza to provide education and health facilities for local Palestinians. It is a stand-alone agency for Palestinian “refugees” because Palestinian so-called refugees do not meet the regular U.N. requirements to merit refugee status as dictated by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. Rather, the corrupt U.N. system has a carve-out for Palestinians in order to control what they learn and to keep them as a permanent underclass among Arabs worldwide.
In no way has our national interest been served by supporting the Palestinians. Trump cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the USAID budget that otherwise was designated to support Palestinians and, guess what, our national security was not impacted one iota. In fact, disconnecting Israel from the two-state solution paradigm allowed Arab countries to forge lasting peace agreements with Israel as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords.
Might Palestinians embrace radical Islam if we don’t support them?
One need only listen to the chilling audio of rampaging Palestinian monsters as they slaughtered Jews, beheaded babies, raped women and kidnapped more than 200 people and brought them into Gaza on Oct. 7 to know that they have already embraced radical Islam. The cries of Allahu Akbar (“God is Great”) were shouted to justify their invasion of Jewish kibbutzim and the savage massacres that followed. Their calls for jihad, “holy war,” to eradicate the Jews are well-known. Gaza is a fully mobilized jihadist society. The so-called moderates in Fatah (who are in no way moderate) ordered their imams—through the Palestinian Religious Affairs Ministry—to issue a call for Palestinians to join the jihad against the Jews and alongside Hamas.
UNRWA schools, which received renewed funding from the Biden administration to the tune of $345 million each year in American taxpayer dollars, don’t teach the traditional 3 “R”s that we are used to in the United States (reading, writing and ’rithmetic). In fact, Gazan children, from the time they are in pre-school, are taught Jew-hatred. A Gaza kindergarten graduation ceremony features students dressed as Hamas terrorists killing religious Jews they encounter.
UNRWA schools and hospitals enable Hamas. It is well-known that Hamas stores weapons in schools, hospitals and mosques, forcing the other occupants of those facilities to serve as human shields to protect weapons caches. Western media have been reporting this since 2014 when UNRWA repeatedly “discovered” hidden supplies of guns, grenades, ammunition, etc. that it knew were present all along. UNRWA’s and the U.N.’s willingness to go along with the Hamas fiction is a reflection of their fecklessness and abuse of their mission. Weapons inside mosques merely demonstrate that the imams and worshippers are radicals bent on destroying Israel and killing Jews; our support to them does nothing but embolden their efforts as UNRWA and other relief organizations act as their shield. The teaching of jihad and the value in becoming a shahid, a “martyr,” to preschoolers is the ultimate cynicism. The unwillingness of Western donors to recognize this fact goes a long way to demonstrating their self-interest in keeping Palestinians dependent on them and their largesse rather than on their efforts to make anyone’s life better.
Is there a journey to self-reliance for Palestinians?
At USAID, the goal of the agency should be to put itself out of business. It should be to put international relief organizations out of business. It should be to have no more needs in the world: no hunger, no illiteracy, no war.
In some parts of the world, this works. Many former recipients of foreign assistance from the United States, including Israel but also including South Korea, Taiwan and many European countries, have become donor countries themselves. Indeed, the concept of paying it forward is something that Israel’s MASHAV, its foreign assistance agency, demonstrates regularly with its efforts to improve agriculture in Africa, Latin America, Asia and even in areas governed by Palestinians.
Somehow, the self-reliance memo never made its way to the Palestinian leadership—not in Ramallah, not in Gaza, not in Jordan, not in Qatar. Instead, they have journeyed away from Israeli offers of land for peace, away from Israeli concessions in search of peace, and away from American and other offers to mediate. They have chosen their journey’s route. It is a route that ends with the total destruction of Israel.
Palestinians have, since 1948, been in a perpetual state of dependence on others, like a dog begging for scraps from the table and never able to make it on their own. They have been bankrolled by Arab oil money, bankrolled by Western donors who perpetuate others’ dependence on them, bankrolled by the United Nations in its misguided belief that it is relevant, and yes, bankrolled by the United States. But for the Trump administration’s termination of assistance, support for the Palestinians has enjoyed bipartisan support in Democratic and Republican administrations, as well as in both parties in Congress.
The question we should be asking is why? At no time has the question of Palestinian assistance come into question, nor has a Palestinian journey to self-reliance been entertained. Every donor to Palestinian coffers does it for one reason only: to keep the problem contained and to keep the Palestinians “over there.” The NIMBY syndrome (“Not In My BackYard”) kicks into gear. No one wants to absorb Palestinian so-called refugees into their own countries. Israel can contend with them. Donors just pay the bills.
What about those bills? It is well-known and widely documented that Arafat and his successors have skimmed billions of dollars from donor funds that were loosely monitored. According to Forbes, Arafat died a billionaire. The leaders of Hamas who live in the lap of luxury in Qatar these days are all billionaires. It’s not often that “freedom fighters” have an opportunity to accrue such massive wealth, but the begging dog at the table was paid—and paid well—to be someone else’s problem, to be Israel’s problem. In no way was their wealth conditioned on eventual Palestinian self-reliance.
Is this what Israel wants?
Administration officials always tout that “Israel asks us to give money to the Palestinians.” When questioned further as to who in Israel wants that, career bureaucrats are suddenly mute. There are no Israeli pronouncements in favor of Biden’s $100 million of American taxpayer money going into Gaza. None. It’s like having Europe fund Al-Qaeda after Sept. 11. You will not find an Israeli official who will go on the record saying that they support money flowing to Palestinians. So where did the fiction begin?
Israel has become the stuck-ee when it comes to the Palestinians. It must accept that others will throw money at the Palestinian problem so that it doesn’t become a problem for them. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to grin and bear it when President Joe Biden shows up in Israel, in the middle of a war, and announces that he will give $100 million to the enemy. After all, Netanyahu is fighting a war, and he needs American-manufactured ammunition.
Israel knows that every bit of assistance—whether money or flour or gas or water—goes to and through Hamas, the governing body of Gaza. For Americans to be told that it will be monitored and only used for humanitarian purposes is to be lied to.
Biden continues to throw up roadblocks for Israel. He wants Israel to go slowly, to act deliberately, to refrain from using too much force as the Jewish state seeks to rescue more than 200 Jews who are being held hostage in inhumane conditions by marauding monsters.
Biden’s requests and demands are unreasonable. No one told President George W. Bush to go slowly after America was attacked on 9/11. The massacre in southern Israel on 10/7 was the equivalent in terms of population loss of a dozen 9/11s. Israel does not want more aid flowing to Hamas. Israel does not want to go slow.
Israel wants two things at this point: It wants to free the hostages and recover bodies of those who have been murdered by bloodthirsty Hamas terrorists. And it wants to destroy Hamas utterly. These are very reasonable goals. They are achievable if the United States, the United Nations and other donors get out of Israel’s way and let the Israel Defense Forces do its job. There should not be one additional dollar of foreign assistance going to Gaza and the Palestinians until every single hostage and murdered body are returned to Israel. Only then can the United States consider limited humanitarian assistance.