by Jonathan Feldstein
On March 8, 2016, American Taylor Force was murdered along the Tel Aviv beach. Bashar Masalha stabbed Force and wounded 12 others, including a pregnant woman. Sadly, Force was not the first, and will likely not be the last, American victim of Palestinian Arab terror.
More sadly, and shocking, your US tax dollars indirectly motivate, and fund, such acts of terror against Americans, Israelis and others. In light of Palestinian Authority president Abbas meeting with President Trump recently, and outrageously claiming that they teach their children peace, it’s important to highlight a perversion of the US-PA relationship.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to incite and support violence and terror. These are the supposed “partners’ with which Israel is to make peace. The dehumanizing of Jews and Israelis that’s so widespread within the PA echoes the similar behavior of the Nazi regime, and precipitating the Final Solution. Yet this is not a precursor but rather a symptom of an ongoing, decades old, pathology.
The PA also pays monthly stipends for families of “martyrs,” terrorists killed while attempting to murder others, and “salaries” to terrorists that are caught and imprisoned. While its nonsense that poverty motivates terror since there’s poverty worldwide, but none with the culture of murder and “martyrdom” like the PA, providing such a stipend for one to go on a murderous terror spree is certainly an added perk. It’s like getting a bonus at work for a job well done.
Imprisoned terrorists’ “salaries” can range from $364 to $3,120 a month, increasing with the length of the prison term. A stipend to the family of a married civilian “martyr” with two kids starts at about $2500 a year. The PA cumulatively allocates more than $303 million (in 2016) for this, representing about 7% of its annual budget.
Here’s the thing however. Rather than generating income to pay for a budget to operate the Palestinian Authority and its terror network through taxes on building, investing, and creating things, most of the PA’s annual budget is paid for by other countries. The US alone provides the PA with $300 million annually. At that rate, every American is actually underwriting a “terror tax” of almost $1 each. Therefore, at least indirectly, all Americans are paying the families of murderers of US citizens and others, encouraging more terrorism and death. With the official PA news agency celebrating and reinforcing the perversion that Palestinian terrorists are heroes, they inspire kids to grow up and become murderers.
Now, initiated by SC Senator Lindsay Graham, a group of US Senators are proposing the Taylor Force Act which would restrict funds “available for assistance for the West Bank and Gaza” unless the President affirms that the PA is “taking credible steps to end acts of violence against Israeli citizens” and that it “terminated payments for acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens.”
It’s possible that cutting off of funding could destabilize the PA and eliminate meaningful projects that actually benefit Palestinians without harming others. It’s not in Israel’s interest to see anarchy and infighting that may spill over into Israel, creating more bloodshed. But if the alternative is continued US funding of Palestinian terrorism and incitement, the Taylor Force Act certainly has merit and deserves support.
Fortunately, President Trump addressed the issue head on. “There cannot be lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate. All children of God must be taught to value and respect human life, and condemn all of those who target the innocent.”
Perhaps that, along with a financial carrot and stick, the PA might actually make changes from celebrating their terrorists as national heroes, paying them and their families, and inspiring others to do so as well. Perhaps. Financial incentives have worked with other countries. Maybe this will work. It’s certainly a step in the right direction.
In addition to the Taylor Force Act, there’s also the Koby Mandell Act. Named for 13 year old Koby Mandell, an American-Israeli who was murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists 16 years ago this week. The Koby Mandell Act directs the Department of Justice to “undertake steps to ensure that all American citizens harmed by terrorism overseas receive equal treatment by the US government regardless of the terrorists’ country of origin or residence, and to ensure that all terrorists involved in such attacks are pursued, prosecuted, and punished with equal vigor, regardless of the terrorists’ country of origin or residence.” Recently, the US government requested the extradition of a Palestinian terrorist in Jordan. In another case, the US has sought to bring charges against the murderers of Kristine Luken, an American Christian murdered by Palestinian terrorists, who have already been tried and convicted in Israel.
The wheels of justice are slow, but supporting efforts like the Taylor Force Act today, and the Koby Mandell Act of 2001, provide momentum, and teeth, to make that happen.
While the family of the murderer of Taylor Force continues to receive a stipend from the PA, that’s not so with the murderers of Koby Mandell, and his friend Yosef Ishran. They escaped, and have never been found or brought to justice. Presumably, they are anonymous and get no stipend from the PA.
In the year following his murder, Koby’s parents, Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell, established the Koby Mandell Foundation (KMF). They turned their pain and grief into something inspiring that continues to help other families like theirs who have lost someone due to terror or other tragedy.
The paradox, however, is vivid. The Palestinian Authority pays terrorists and families of “martyred” terrorists, and incredible organizations like the Koby Mandell Foundation that provide healing and comfort to the victims of these terrorists spend all year raising money to provide support for families of these terrorists’ victims.
The paradigm must change.
KMF programs like the year-round Camp Koby for bereaved children, and the Women’s Healing Program, connect family members of terror victims, and provide an array of therapeutic healing in an environment of unrestricted caring and love, in which these survivors can express themselves openly, verbally, just with a hug, or in absolute silence, among others who understand intuitively and completely.
The KMF has established a scholarship fund, to enable more bereaved Israeli children to benefit from these invaluable programs. Other scholarships are needed as it costs $2000 to fund one child for a year of Camp Koby activities each year, as the programs are all free, and no government support is received. In advance of the busy summer Camp Koby season, this scholarship campaign will provide support for at least 100 bereaved children.
It’s outrageous that a family of a terrorist gets more money than it costs to provide one scholarship for a child of a terror victim. Regardless of, or maybe specifically because US tax dollars fund PA terrorists, you can support Camp Koby’s healing programs and make a positive difference.
Reprinted with permission of the author. Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He writes a regular column for Charisma magazine’s Standing With Israel. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.