Foreign Aid Should Be Used to Help the Palestinian Economy, Not to Line Pockets

The Palestinian Authority (PA) receives billions of dollars in foreign aid every year, much of it from the United States. Yet economic conditions in Gaza and the West Bank have been steadily deteriorating. Blaming the PA’s “corruption, inefficiency, and lack of transparency” for the fact that these funds have done little to improve the lives of Palestinians, Shimon Shapira and Jacques Neriah call on the U.S. to see to it that its money be used more wisely, and suggest a number of ways this can be accomplished:

[T]he PA suffers from underdevelopment, virulent poverty, pandemic housing problems, unemployment, lack of adequate medical care, inadequate educational institutions, a catastrophic infrastructure, and ecological and environmental hazards stemming from the pollution of water sources and aquifers—all of which became ammunition for radical Islamic organizations, which have taken advantage of the plight of much of the population to incite against Israel, the Jews, and foreign powers associated with the Jewish state, mainly the United States. . . .

[I]t is of the utmost importance that the U.S. propose an improved economic recovery plan to the Palestinians that will generate a situation in which Palestinians will not allow the extremists to rule their lives. The recovery must not be another cash handout to the Palestinians, but rather a program aimed at improving Palestinian infrastructure. . . . [To this end], the U.S. will have to present a package deal to be disbursed over the next few years to create growth, employment, prosperity, and recovery. All projects would be implemented by U.S. firms working with local sub-contractors. . . .

[For instance], Palestinian cities are a city planner’s nightmare. Reorganizing the cities/refugee camps to best serve their citizens should be a priority. The Gaza Strip is one of the densest areas in the world. The only way to survive the demographic outburst is . . . by dismantling the existing refugee camps and building instead a modern complex of high-rise towers together with the required infrastructure (kindergartens, schools, playgrounds, clinics/hospitals, and municipal services). In the new political situation, it is inconceivable that a condition can be allowed to exist in which a Palestinian refugee living in his own state will still be considered a refugee.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy, U.S. Foreign policy

To Defeat the Legacy of Islamic State, Start Rebuilding the Communities It Destroyed

Now that the borders of Islamic State (IS) are slowly contracting, argues Alberto Fernandez, there is a moral and strategic imperative to reconstruct some of the non-Muslim communities that it has destroyed—and the U.S. should encourage local government to help:

Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate is crumbling, if all too slowly. Sadly, though, its ultimate collapse will not be the end of the story. It will leave behind a still-lethal insurgency that will almost certainly attempt to stage terrorist attacks around the world as well as a wide swath of physical destruction and devastated lives stretching from Aleppo to Ramadi.

And yet, even while the Islamic State is “losing,” there is no denying that it has also “won” some things. It has created grim facts on the ground. It has wiped out communities that will never rise again. Many Yazidi villages and towns within its orbit are destined to remain permanently empty because of slaughter and the flight of despairing survivors. IS jihadists also succeeded in destroying the ancient Christian community of Mosul, whose surviving members were robbed of everything they had when they were expelled from the city in July 2014. Many of the survivors of these same minority groups remain scattered around the region, and some still haven’t decided whether they should stay, with all the risks that it would entail, or leave forever. Islamic State has torn a hole in the fabric of the region’s millennia-old diversity that can never be fully repaired. . . .

But we should consider fresh ways for Muslim leaders to show concrete support for restoring what IS sought to exterminate. Even the resurrection of a single community would be a powerful message of solidarity and diversity in a Middle East that is becoming increasingly monochrome. . . .

In . . . Israel, one kibbutz incorporated and commemorated survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and other Jewish partisans. Imagine the resurrection of a non-Muslim community that the Islamic State sought to exterminate. What a powerful message that would send. And the message would resonate even more strongly if the work were to be done with the support of Muslim states.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: ISIS, Middle East Christianity, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Yazidis