by Hugh Fitzgerald
The United States on Friday ended all funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees,” and it is instructive to look back at the “Palestinian” fury at the American government earlier this year for cutting its contribution to UNRWA from $125 million to $60 million; it was something to behold. It was full of dire warnings about what terrible things would ensue for these “refugees” (that is, the five million people whom UNRWA calls “refugees,” even though only 20,000-40,000 are still alive of those who actually left Palestine in 1947-1949; the rest are the ever-multiplying descendants of the 700,000 Arabs who left). There were repeated warnings of “devastating consequences.” Apparently these desperate “Palestinians” have no other conceivable sources of support to call on, such as, for example, several of the richest countries, per capita, in the world — Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar. Between them, they can’t come up with an extra $65 million for their “Palestinian” brothers. This is strange, especially when you consider how very deeply they feel for the “Palestinians,” as is shown by their rhetoric and votes at the U.N. And it can’t be for want of money. Why, in the last year, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bought a $500 million dollar yacht, a $300 million dollar chateau, and a $450 million dollar painting by Leonardo, without batting an eye. Could it be that the P.A. insists that the money must come from the Americans, and not from other Arabs, to reinforce the idea that the United States “owes” the “Palestinians” this aid? From a January Al Jazeera report:
“If the wakala [UNRWA] goes away, there will be no education, no healthcare, no sanitation,” Yazan Muhammad Sabri, an 18-year-old Palestinian refugee in Dheisheh camp told Al Jazeera last week.
“There won’t be anything – everything will disappear.”
Salah Ajarmeh, a 44-year-old refugee living in Aida camp, had said that “if the services stop, there will be a revolution”.
“Palestinian uprisings began in the refugee camps in Jordan and Syria, and this will happen again.”
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, also urged the US government to reverse its decision.
“The move will have devastating consequences for vulnerable Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, including hundreds of thousands of refugee children in the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria who depend on the agency for their education,” he said in a statement.
“It will also deny their parents a social safety net that helps them to survive, and undermine the UN agency’s ability to respond in the event of another flare-up in the conflict.”
There have been no “devastating consequences,” no “Palestinian uprisings.” Just the usual whines from those with a sense of permanent and total entitlement. Apparently the Americans have no right to stop funding the “Palestinians” to an extravagant degree, and must keep funding them no matter what their behavior. What have been the “dire consequences”? Some “Palestinians” working for UNRWA, with its much-overstaffed, very well-paid bureaucracy, will have lost their jobs, and forced to accept — life is so unfair! — less cushy employment, a loss of a great many sinecures, and less exalted salaries.
By cutting aid to UNRWA, the Trump administration is making the point that UNRWA’s definition of what constitutes a “Palestinian” refugee — the administration is not accepting the claim that the term refers not just to anyone who was himself a refugee, but also to anyone who is the descendant, no matter how any generations removed, of someone who was a refugee. Under this definition, which is UNRWA’s, the number of “refugees” will forever increase. The “Palestinian refugees” are the only “refugees” in the entire world who are permitted to be defined in that way, and the American government has lost patience with this colossally expensive farce.
In late August, when the Trump administration dropped the other shoe and declared that it would cut aid to the Palestinian Authority itself by more than $200 million, the response was sheer fury. How dare the Americans cut aid that they owe the “Palestinians” in perpetuity, to judge by the apoplexy of Mahmoud Abbas? Abbas needn’t worry about himself — he and his two sons have accumulated between them $400 million, skimmed from the foreign aid intended for the “poor Palestinians,” and which they will hold onto no matter what. But he doesn’t like this new policy in Washington of outrageously daring to link American aid to changes in “Palestinian” policy. How dare the Americans make demands when they should simply be handing over the sums, and not presuming to dictate what the Palestine Authority does or does not do?
If the administration had first been trying to change the policy of UNRWA with its ever-expanding rolls of “refugees,” it was now trying to change the policy of the Palestinian Authority itself, its policy of paying large, ever-increasing sums to the families of terrorists killed, wounded, or imprisoned in Israeli jails. Families of individuals killed by Israeli security forces are paid stipends of about $800 to $1,000 per month. These payments go on forever. The families of convicted Palestinians serving time in Israeli prisons receive $3,000 or higher per month until they are released. Large sums are involved. For example, payments to the families of just one terrorist, sentenced to life at 20 and expected to live to the age of 80, would be close to $2 million.
But the payments received by terrorists’ families from the “Palestinian Martyr’s Fund” are only one of the ways that the PA encourages terrorists. Another way is to honor the memories of those terrorists who have been killed, by naming streets, squares, parks, schools, and even summer classes after these “Palestinian” murderers, who are held up as models of conduct on children’s shows on “Palestinian” television, where the sweetest-faced little Arab girls lisp songs in praise of those who murder Jews, and express the wish that when they grow up they can do the same thing themselves.
Previous administrations have been fully aware of this PA policy of “pay for slay” and for glorifying terrorists, but until now no American administration has done something to punish the PA for these practices. The administration has done the only thing that gets the attention of the “Palestinians”: it has unceremoniously cut American aid. The Trump administration has had it with the “pay for slay” policy of the PA, and with its grotesque honoring of mass-murdering terrorists.
Even if there were no such “pay for slay” policy, and no honoring of terrorists by naming public places after them, American aid to the “Palestinians” should be stopped. It has no convincing justification. Such aid only appears to confirm the PA in its denunciation of the Americans as responsible for the establishment of the state of Israel, and therefore they owe the “Palestinians” some kind of recompense.
The idea that the Americans are simply being generous to those they have been persuaded need help is something the “Palestinian” mind refuses to comprehend. If aid is given, it can only be because it is owed. And it is owed because the Americans are responsible for the State of Israel coming into existence. It offends Arab amour-propre to believe that the despised Jews could have held out on their own against so many Arabs; surely the Americans must have been supplying the Jews with indispensable support of all kinds.
But that isn’t true. Let’s go back to the founding of the Jewish state or even earlier, back to the establishment by the League of Nations of the Mandate for Palestine. Great Britain, not the U.S., was the Mandatory authority, thereby committing itself to facilitating Jewish immigration and close Jewish settlement on the land. The U.S. not only had no responsibility for the Mandate but, despite Woodrow Wilson’s enthusiasm for the League, never even became a member of the League. No aid from the American government was extended to the Jews of Mandatory Palestine.
In 1947-49, the United States, like many other Western powers, established an embargo on weaponry for both sides, weaponry that might have helped the Jews in their fight for survival. Great Britain did supply Egypt, Iraq, and especially Jordan with arms. It was Jordan’s Arab Legion, armed and trained by British officers under the celebrated Glubb Pasha, that was the most effective fighting force on the Arab side.
While some Jewish American soldiers did volunteer to fight for the Zionist cause, that was their individual decision. The Israelis did have some Sherman tanks from sources in Europe. There were also shiploads of small arms smuggled into Palestine from Europe, almost all from Czechoslovakia, by the Jewish Agency, which were to prove decisive in Israel’s war. Here were the shipments:
Total deliveries (confirmed until October 1948)
34,500 P-18 rifles
5,515 MG 34 machine guns with 10,000 ammo belts
10,000 vz.24 bayonets
900 vz. 37 heavy machine guns
500 vz. 27 pistols
12 ZK-383 submachine guns
10 ZK 420 semi-automatic rifles
500 vz. 26 light machine guns
91,500,000 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridges
15,000,000 9mm Parabellum cartridges
375,000 13mm cartridges for MG 131
150,000 20mm cartridges for MG 151
375,000 7.65mm cartridges for vz. 27 pistols
Israeli Avia S-199, 1948
25 Avia S-199 fighters
61 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX fighters
Only 18 of the Spitfires arrived before the cessation of hostilities.
The Czechs also provided training for Israeli pilots.
There were no significant shipments of weaponry from the U.S.
Nor did the U.S. intervene to help Israel in the early period of its existence. 19,000 separate attacks by Egyptian fedayeen, encouraged by Nasser, did not lead to any softening of the American position. When Israel finally went to war against Egypt in the Sinai Campaign of 1956 to stamp out those attacks, it was France and Great Britain, for their own good and sufficient reasons, that briefly allied with Israel in order to deal Nasser a stinging defeat that might curb his leader-of-the-Third-World aggressiveness. President Eisenhower, however, not only did not join this alliance, but pressured Israel in 1957 to pull its troops back from the conquered Sinai, without obtaining any guarantees from Egypt to halt the fedayeen. Ben Gurion refused at first. Eisenhower voted at the U.N. to denounce Israel’s “occupation” of the Sinai (only two states voted against the resolution: France and Israel). He then went on nationwide television to criticize Israel’s refusal to withdraw. Still Ben Gurion would not budge. Finally, Eisenhower threatened that if Israel did not withdraw, he would approve trade sanctions against the country and might also cut off all private assistance to Israel, which amounted that year to $40 million in tax-deductible donations and $60 million annually in the purchase of bonds. Ben Gurion relented, and the Israelis pulled out completely from the Sinai, without having obtained any guarantees from Egypt.
This history has certainly not been acknowledged by the “Palestinians,” so determined are they to paint Israel as a creation of the Americans, which in turn is supposed to explain and justify present-day American aid to the “Palestinians.” Even in the Six-Day War, though Israel did have some American weapons, notably Sherman tanks, Israel’s victory was secured in the first day of the war, when Israeli pilots, flying not American but French (Dassault) planes, managed to destroy almost the entire Egyptian Air Force, some 338 planes.
Israel was not, pace Abbas and his henchmen, America’s creation, not in the Mandate period, not during its War for Independence, not during the Sinai Campaign, not in the Six-Day War. Nor has it been hopelessly dependent on America since. In fact, over time, the Israelis with their ever-increasing technological marvels — remember Stuxnet? — have been the greatest foreign source of military advances for the American forces, giving, in the literal sense, as good as they get. And no other country has been as helpful to the United States in sharing valuable intelligence about the Islamic world as Israel. Think only of the daring Israeli raid earlier this year, when 100,000 Iranian documents pertaining to its nuclear program, held under the tightest possible security, were located and smuggled out of the country by Israeli agents, “one step ahead of the Iranian authorities.” These documents were, of course, shared with the United States.
The American government owes the “Palestinians” nothing. Enough absurd claims about “five million refugees.” The Americans will help pay for 20,000-40,000 refugees who left Palestine/Israel between 1947 and 1949, but not for five million children and grandchildren of those refugees. We’ve done more than enough. As for the aid given directly to the “Palestinians,” if they do not halt their “pay for slay” policy, and refuse to end their practice of honoring murderers by naming public places after them (and do not rename those already so named), then why are they entitled to anything? They are promoters of Islamic terrorism. They subsidize, and honor, Muslim terrorists. End of story. They are not different in kind, but only in degree, from those in Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. They can forget about America, and instead make the rounds of their Arab “brothers” in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates, Qatar, none of whom have in the past been exactly generous with the “Palestinians” — including those who have lived in their countries for decades, but have been prevented from obtaining citizenship, and barred from many occupations. Let the Palestinian Authority hold out its begging bowl everywhere it goes. It will be fascinating to see the response.
First published in Jihad Watch.