Among the conference speakers, the only person who spoke of this was US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. “I worked for 35 years in Manhattan,” he said. “If a guest, in the middle of a party, had said that they hated Jews, he would have been immediately and forcibly escorted out of the gathering. On the other hand, if someone says, ‘70 years after the Nazis killed the Jews, Israel is doing the same thing to Palestinians,’ that’s maybe considered an extreme opinion, but is not seen as illegitimate.”
The ambassador has pinpointed the problem.
Not only did the Global Conference on Antisemitism fail to properly address modern-day antisemitism taking the lives of Jews within our midst, but even the Knesset, the government, the media and nearly every other public forum also fails to take seriously the murder of Israeli citizens by Palestinians who are raised in a culture of antisemitism.
Aside from a few interviews and declarations, it would be hard to say that Israel experienced any national mourning, as if these deaths are unavoidable consequences of living in a Jewish state; as if Israelis are no longer so concerned about each other; as if he who takes one life has not destroyed an entire world; as if there’s only the singular “lone wolf” terrorist acting outside of a culture of hatred, and there’s nothing we as a nation-state can do about it.
At last month’s AIPAC policy conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated emphatically:
Raise your arms up high if you agree with me that President Abbas must cease paying terrorists to murder Jews. Do you know how much he pays? He pays 350 million dollars a year to terrorists and their families. That’s a little less than 10% of the total Palestinian budget. It’s an astounding number. He pays Hakim Awad. Hakim Awad is the terrorist who murdered the beautiful Fogel family, Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children, including the infant Hadas, three months old. He is paying this murderer, who over the course of his life will collect 2 million dollars. I have a message for President Abbas: stop paying terrorists! What message does this send to Palestinian children? The message is: murder Jews, and you will get rich. I believe that President Abbas has to find something better to do with the money!
Yet Netanyahy forgot one small detail: action. Simply stated, Israel controls the Palestine economy. While Netanyahu speaks of 10 percent of the PA’s budget being spent on salaries for terrorists, a whopping 70 percent of all Palestinian economic activity flows through the Jewish state. A position paper issued by the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council revealed that the tax returns the Ministry of Finance and the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories transfer to the PA every year stands at NIS 9 billion, which represents 54 percent of the total Palestinian budget. In addition, 60 percent of PA imports — some NIS 10 billion — come from the Israeli economy. And 66 percent of Palestinian exports, amounting to NIS 3 billion, head to Israel, which the Yesha paper notes “turns Israel into the central market for the Palestinians.”
Netanyahu has more than enough power to cause the Palestinian economy to tremble. Instead, the government continues to financially prop up the Palestinian Authority, claiming that they must do so to protect Israeli interests. If the Abbas government collapses, government ministers say, chaos will reign in the PA, and then we will be forced to take responsibility for millions of Arabs in Judea and Samaria.
Recently, members of Netanyahu’s government have promoted the passage of a law to reduce or offset the funds sent to the Palestinian Authority by any amounts paid out to terrorists, similar to the Taylor Force Act now pending in the US Congress. Yet despite the support in Israel for similar legislation, a close look at the proposed law reveals that after the initial reductions, very quietly the money will be returned to the Palestinians, as has happened in previous instances with their water and electricity debt, or with the offsets from previous years.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committeer Avi Dichter was quick to recognize that the law would be summarily ineffective, saying to the committee: “The direction the proposed law is heading is very problematic. Government offices should think things through in order not to kill the proposal.” Knesset member Anat Berko of the Likud Party added: “We are funding the hangmen and sometimes even the rope. The time has come to put an end to this.” And Knesset member Elazar Stern of the Yesh Atid Party wondered: “How could it be that in the United States this law passed, and in Israel, it didn’t?”
They are all right, and Israel must take action.