Why Isn’t AIPAC Lobbying for Taylor Force Act?
WASHINGTON, DC — Eighteen thousand people are here in the nation’s capitol to advocate for Israel. On Tuesday, they will fill the halls of Congress to lobby for important pro-Israel legislation, including legislation on BDS, which would punish countries and corporations who boycott Israel. That’s all highly admirable. But why did AIPAC, which supports the Taylor Force Act, choose not to lobby for Senate and Congressional passage of the act?
On March 8, my organization will posthumously award the Elie Wiesel Prize — chosen and presented by Marion and Elisha Wiesel — to Yoni Netanyahu and Taylor Force, two heroes who defended liberty and were murdered by terrorists.
Taylor Force was a West Point graduate and Army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was murdered in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist on March 8th, 2016. As it stands, Congress is considering legislation named after him — the Taylor Force Act — to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority for paying large stipends to individuals who commit acts of terrorism, and to the families of deceased terrorists.
Taylor Force was on a study trip with his fellow MBA students from Vanderbilt University when he was stabbed, along with 11 other people.
This horrific crime was celebrated by the Palestinian government, which offers incentives to murder Jews and rewards to those who are imprisoned or “martyred.” Under this “pay-to-slay” policy, the Palestinian Authority — which has repeatedly pledged to end terrorism — provides generous monthly stipends to terrorists and their families for attacks against Israelis.
Men who have served at least five years in Israeli jails, and women who have served at least two, are entitled to these “salaries” for life. The more heinous the crime, the more money a prisoner receives. Terrorists also receive health benefits and priority for employment after they are released from jail. Palestinians can earn more money by attacking Jews and going to jail than they can earn for most jobs in the West Bank.
The PA, which pleads poverty and begs for international aid, spends roughly $140 million for payments to terrorists. That money is coming out of Americans’ pockets, whose tax dollars are sent to provide aid — ostensibly for the welfare of the Palestinian people. Given the fungibility of money, however, any US. funding allows the PA to divert other resources to the pay-to-slay program, which now consumes about 7% of the PA’s budget.
President Trump has repeatedly criticized the PA for this policy, and told PA President Mahmoud Abbas directly that it has to stop. Abbas thumbed his nose at the president, as well as the Europeans, who also demanded a halt to the policy. Instead, Abbas declared his determination to not only continue to incentivize murder, but to increase the amount paid to terrorists.
Trump subsequently decided to withhold some aid from the Palestinians. Congress has also become fed up with seeing taxpayer money going to support terrorism. The Senate is now poised to pass bipartisan legislation, the Taylor Force Act, to cut the roughly $400 million in US assistance to the PA if the payments continue.
It is essential that Congress quickly pass this law, named in honor of the murdered American soldier, and send a message to Palestinian officials that America will no longer stand by silently while they pay their people to attack innocent men, women and children — Jews and non-Jews, Israelis and non-Israelis.
It is tragic that it took the murder of an American citizen to prompt Congress to finally act. Sadly, Taylor was not the first American to be killed by Palestinian terrorists. Since Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Peace Accords in September 1993 — and pledged to end violence — at least 54 Americans have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
Taylor Force should be alive today, pursuing a career in business and continuing to contribute to the welfare of the United States — as he did during his military service.
We are proud to honor Taylor Force with the Elie Wiesel Award. But the greatest homage to Taylor Force will come with the passage of the Taylor Force Act.
AIPAC, are you listening?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America” is the international best-selling author of 31 books including his most recent, “The Israel Warrior.” For tickets to The Champions of Jewish Values Awards Gala on March 8, go to www.thisworldgala.com.