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August 26, 2019 7:14 am

Lutherans Ask US to Subsidize Terror-Supporting Palestinian Authority

avatar by Dexter Van Zile

Opinion

An IDF soldier maps a terrorist’s home for demolition. Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Office.

Earlier this month, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) passed a resolution that calls on the US government to subsidize the Palestinian Authority (PA) as it pays salaries to murderers and terrorists serving time in Israeli jails.

Proponents of the resolution, which was passed by the assembly “en banc” (without any debate, along with a number of other resolutions), would likely say that it does not ask the US government to directly subsidize the Palestinian Authority — but instead, calls on Congress to send millions of dollars to Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem.

Only a grinch could say no to such a thing. Giving money to a hospital is a good thing, right?

The problem is that AVH needs US money because the PA hasn’t been able to pay its bills to the facility.

According to ELCA documents, the Palestinian Authority owes a total of $95 million to a network of six hospitals in East Jerusalem, of which Augusta Victoria is a part. It’s a big deal, because many Palestinians rely on AVH for treatment of chronic illnesses.

A fact-sheet produced by the ELCA states that the hospital “offers specialized care not available in other hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, including radiation therapy for cancer patients and pediatric hemodialysis” and that “approximately 30 percent of the cancer patients treated at AVH are from Gaza.”

Despite being unable to fund this hospital, however, the PA has managed to find money to fund its”pay-to-slay” program, which pays salaries to terrorists and the families of terrorists serving time in Israeli jails for killing Israeli civilians (among other things).

The worse the crime is, the more money the killers and families get.

The PA’s pay-to-slay program monetizes dead Jews in a manner akin to how the US government paid bounties for the scalps of Native Americans in the early 1860s. It incentivizes murders like that of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb, who was recently killed while hiking with her father and brother. If her killers are caught and sent to prison (we pray that they are), they will receive a salary for their crimes.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas made it perfectly clear that he is more interested in paying terrorists than in taking care of his people, when he declared in July 2018: “Even if we have only a penny left, it will only be spent on the families of the martyrs and the prisoners, and only afterwards will it be spent on the rest of the people.”

According to researcher Dov Lieber, the PA’s budget for 2017 allocated a total of $153.4 million for beneficiaries of the pay-to-slay program. That’s enough money to pay off the PA’s debt to the network of hospitals in East Jerusalem in its entirety, plus some.

There’s an indisputable moral hazard at play here, which helps explain why the powers that be within the ELCA lumped the resolution in with a bunch of others for an “en banc” approval. Putting the resolution in question before the entire body would have given fair-minded and alert Lutherans a chance to object to its passage.

For all their talking about promoting peace in the Holy Land, mainline Protestants keep doing two things: They make it harder for Israel to defend itself from murderous attacks like the one that killed Rina Shnerb on August 23, and they keep making it easier for Palestinians to get away with perpetrating these attacks.

That’s what the ELCA is supporting.

Dexter Van Zile is the Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA).

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