By: Jonathan Feldstein; townhall.com
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. As Palestinian Authority President Abbas meets with President Trump this week, it’s important to highlight a perversion of the US-PA relationship.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) incites and supports violence and terror. It 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.
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 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, 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, 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 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.
Perhaps 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 is vivid. The Palestinian Authority provides an annual stipend for 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.
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.
In memory of Kristine Luken, another American murdered by terrorists, KMF has established a scholarship fund, to enable more bereaved Israeli kids 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, as the programs are all free, and no government support is received.
It’s outrageous that a family of a terrorist gets more money than it costs to provide one scholarship for the family 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.