(May 3, 2017 / JNS) By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org
The Washington Post’s chief correspondent in Israel has discarded all pretense of objectivity and is now openly lobbying for a political cause—and it’s one of the most distasteful causes imaginable: justifying the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) policy of paying imprisoned terrorists and their families.
William Booth, the Post’s longtime Jerusalem bureau chief, has never been very careful about keeping his personal opinions out of his news articles. But his May 3 report on PA payments to terrorists crossed the line from journalism to outright advocacy.
“Israel and its congressional supporters,” Booth reported, are urging President Donald Trump to press PA President Mahmoud Abbas “to stop social welfare payments that the Palestinian Authority makes to the families of Palestinian prisoners and assailants either wounded or killed by Israeli forces during terrorist attacks.”
Let’s dissect that remarkable sentence.
Start with Booth’s phrase “social welfare payments.” The obvious purpose of the phrase “social welfare” is to make the payments seem more palatable. The dictionary definition of “social welfare” is: “organized public or private social services for the assistance of disadvantaged groups.”
Booth apparently wants Washington Post readers to think the recipients of the funds are innocent widows and orphans—who, after all, should not be blamed for the acts of their terrorist relatives, and therefore deserve government support.
That line of thinking is, of course, absurd. The family of Dylann Roof, perpetrator of the June 2015 South Carolina church massacre, is not responsible for what he did—but that does not mean they deserve to be supported by the U.S. government. The siblings of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh were not to blame for his deeds, but that does not mean they merit receiving “social welfare” payments because their brother was executed.
There are two obvious reasons the PA financially supports terrorists’ families. One is the PA wants to encourage the terrorists to proceed with their murderous plans, by giving them the peace of mind that their families will be taken care of if they are killed or jailed. The second is the PA reveres the terrorists’ families, viewing them as an admired part of the Palestinian war against Israel. But you won’t find any acknowledgment of these obvious facts in William Booth’s dispatches.
The payments to the families, however, are just part of the problem. There is also the matter of PA payments made directly to the terrorists themselves. Mr. Booth somehow forgot to mention this inconvenient information.
Thanks to a detailed report published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, we know that Palestinian terrorists who are currently in Israeli prisons receive up to $3,429 monthly from the PA. The longer a terrorist’s sentence—meaning, the more Jews murdered—the more the terrorist is paid. Some of the terrorists involved in the murder of my daughter Alisa, in 1995, are among the recipients of these generous PA stipends.
There is an additional category of terrorists who receive payments directly from the PA. Terrorists who have been released from prison receive a grant of up to $25,000. Once again, the PA uses a sliding scale—the more time you served, the more you get paid.
There are quite a few released terrorists who have received these PA grants. Some completed their jail sentences (why they were not given life sentences is beyond me). Some were set free in lopsided prisoner exchanges. Some were released in unreciprocated “gestures”—the kind of “gestures” State Department officials such as Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk were always pressuring Israel to make, supposedly to encourage the PA to return to the negotiating table.
I don’t recall those “gestures” ever accomplishing anything except putting more killers on Israel’s streets. Nor do I recall William Booth ever writing any follow-up stories in The Washington Post about Palestinian terrorists who are set free and then return to terrorism. I don’t remember Booth ever asking Ross or Indyk if they regret pressuring Israel to set terrorists free.
The Post recently announced Booth is being promoted. Sometime this summer, he will relocate to London to become the newspaper’s bureau chief there. Is there any chance his successors in Jerusalem will be objective reporters, rather than advocates for the Palestinians, like Booth? I’m not holding my breath.
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.