What’s Behind the Palestinian Authority’s “Pay-for-Slay” Policy

March 21 2017

For most of its history, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has offered generous financial rewards (made possible by American funding) to terrorists and their families. It even has an entire ministry for distributing these payments, which ensure that they are directly proportional to the murderousness of the attack committed. Douglas Feith and Sander Gerber examine what this “pay-for-slay” policy suggests about the PA’s true attitude toward terror:

Mahmoud Abbas says he opposes widespread violence of the type that occurred during the first and second intifadas (1987–1993 and 2000–2005), and his security forces work with Israelis to prevent the outbreak of a new intifada. At the same time, however, the PA stokes hatred of Israel (and of Jews), urges anti-Israel attacks, and rewards terrorists. In other words, the PA encourages small-scale terrorism but cooperates with Israeli authorities to prevent larger-scale terrorism. The Israeli government finds itself in a mind-boggling twilight zone, partly of its own making. Its officials complain vehemently about incitement, but they’ve never tried to shut the PA down. . . .

The knifings and car-rammings that have characterized Palestinian terror emanating from the West Bank over the past two years are often described in the West as spontaneous signs of exasperation by Palestinians faced with oppressive Israeli occupation policies. But the official system of rewards for terrorism calls that into question. If exasperation were so potent a motivation, why would the PA have to offer such rich financial incentives to spur its people to violence?

Commonly described as peace-seeking and opposed to violence, the PA appears to contrast favorably with Hamas. But no one paying attention can honestly say that the PA opposes the murder of ordinary Israelis going about their business on the streets. In fact, the PA exerts itself to cause such murder, though it works to calibrate the violence. It blocks West Bank-based attacks by its Palestinian political opponents and works to head off devastating Israeli retaliation. It has been successful on both counts for the last dozen years.

The theme of PA propaganda is that the only way ultimately for the Palestinian people to maintain their honor and achieve justice is to drive the Jews violently off the land. Hence the praise of terrorists as heroes and martyrs, the naming of streets and public squares after Palestinians who have murdered Israelis in pizzerias and at bus stops, the school pageants at which small children are praised for saying they want to grow up to be killers of the Jewish “occupiers,” the laws promising large financial rewards for terrorism, and the ministries and other institutions that exist to pay terrorists.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Israel & Zionism, Knife intifada, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy

Lessons for the U.S. from Israel’s 2007 Bombing of the Syrian Nuclear Reactor

March 23 2018

In 2007, then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan came to Washington with overwhelming evidence that Syria, with North Korean help, had built a nuclear reactor for military use. After a debate among his advisers, President Bush told then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he had chosen to pressure Bashar al-Assad diplomatically to give up his nuclear program. Israel itself then bombed the reactor, which was located in an area that in a few years would become the heartland of Islamic State. Earlier this week, for the first time, Jerusalem publicly took responsibility for the attack. (Amnon Lord explores possible reasons for that decision here.) Elliott Abrams—then the deputy national security adviser for the Middle East—related the discussion within the White House over what to do about the reactor, and also explained what could be learned from the affair, in a 2013 article for Commentary:

The Israelis believed that if they [or American officials] spoke about the strike [after it happened], Assad might be forced to react to this humiliation by trying to attack Israel. If, however, we all shut up, he might do nothing—nothing at all. He might try to hide the fact that anything had happened. And with every day that passed, the possibility that he would acknowledge the event and fight back diminished. That had been the Israeli theory, and the Israelis knew their man. We maintained silence and so did Israel—no leaks. As the weeks went by, the chances of an Israeli-Syrian confrontation grew slim and then disappeared. Syria has never admitted that there was a reactor at the site. . . .

Two final points are worth noting. First, in May 2008, Turkish-mediated peace talks between Israel and Syria were publicly announced in Istanbul. The discussions had begun secretly in February 2007, and obviously had continued after the Israeli strike on [the reactor]. It would appear that the strike . . . made the Syrians more, not less, desirous of talking to the Israelis because it made them afraid of Israeli power. It also made them more afraid of American power until we undermined our own position, which is the second point.

A very well-placed Arab diplomat later told us that the strike had left Assad deeply worried as to what was coming next. He had turned Syria into the main transit route for jihadists going to Iraq to kill American soldiers. From Libya or Indonesia, Pakistan or Egypt, they would fly to Damascus International Airport and be shepherded into Iraq. Assad was afraid that on the heels of the Israeli strike would come American action to punish him for all this involvement. But just weeks later, Assad received his invitation to send a Syrian delegation to [a] big international confab [organized by] then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Annapolis Conference, and according to the Arab envoy, Assad relaxed immediately; he knew he would be OK. . . .

Finally, this incident is a reminder that there is no substitute for military strength and the will to use it. Think of how much more dangerous to the entire region the Syrian civil war would be today if Assad had a nuclear reactor, and even perhaps nuclear weapons, in hand. Israel was right to bomb that reactor before construction was completed, and President Bush was right to support its decision to do so. Israel was also right in rejecting fears that the incident would lead to a larger war and in believing that it, and the United States, would be better off after this assertion of leadership and determination.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Bashar al-Assad, George W. Bush, Israel & Zionism, Nuclear proliferation, Syria, US-Israel relations