It’s Time to Cut Off Financial Support for Mahmoud Abbas

Dec. 15 2017

In response to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the president of the Palestinian Authority has declared that he no longer consents to Washington playing a role in the peace process. Kevin Williamson argues that America should take him up on this offer:

If President Abbas desires to end diplomatic relations with the United States, the United States should think seriously about obliging him. . . .

[T]he Palestinian cause has in no small part devolved from an instrument of civilizational conflict to an instrument of ordinary grift, a phony jihad used to fortify the alliance between fanatics and financial interests that is the default model of government throughout much of the Muslim Middle East. To keep this particular grift going, it is necessary that there be no settlement between Israel and the Palestinians and no meaningful progress toward it. That means that every little step toward resolution must be met with murder and terrorism—terrorism is in fact the main Palestinian mode of negotiation. . . .

[In addition to the support it provides directly], United States is a very large contributor to UNRWA, the relief agency for Palestinian “refugees.” (There aren’t many Palestinian refugees, really, but, unlike the rest of the world’s peoples, Palestinians inherit refugee status.) The United States is also a large contributor to other UN programs and international organizations that provide aid to the Palestinians, who, thanks to their incompetent and malevolent leadership, have no real economy to speak of. In 2016, the United States gave more in aid to the Palestinians than any other country did. It is time to rethink that.

UNRWA is a troubled and troubling organization on its best day, an encourager and enabler of Palestinian radicalism. The prospects for peace probably would improve if it were dissolved. But, short of that, the United States should consider accommodating President Abbas’s demand and stepping away from the situation for a while, taking our aid money with us. If President Abbas must have his obstinacy and his cheap theatrics, then let him pay the full price for them.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians, U.S. Foreign policy

The Proper Jewish Response to the Pittsburgh Massacre

Nov. 21 2018

In the Jewish tradition, it is commonplace to add the words zikhronam li-vrakhah (may their memory be for a blessing) after the names of the departed, but when speaking of those who have been murdered because they were Jews, a different phrase is used: Hashem yikom damam—may God avenge their blood. Meir Soloveichik explains:

The saying reflects the fact that when it comes to mass murderers, Jews do not believe that we must love the sinner while hating the sin; in the face of egregious evil, we will not say the words ascribed to Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We believe that a man who shoots up a synagogue knows well what he does; that a murderer who sheds the blood of helpless elderly men and women knows exactly what he does; that one who brings death to those engaged in celebrating new life knows precisely what he does. To forgive in this context is to absolve; and it is, for Jews, morally unthinkable.

But the mantra for murdered Jews that is Hashem yikom damam bears a deeper message. It is a reminder to us to see the slaughter of eleven Jews in Pennsylvania not only as one terrible, tragic moment in time, but as part of the story of our people, who from the very beginning have had enemies that sought our destruction. There exists an eerie parallel between Amalek, the tribe of desert marauders that assaulted Israel immediately after the Exodus, and the Pittsburgh murderer. The Amalekites are singled out by the Bible from among the enemies of ancient Israel because in their hatred for the chosen people, they attacked the weak, the stragglers, the helpless, those who posed no threat to them in any way.

Similarly, many among the dead in Pittsburgh were elderly or disabled; the murderer smote “all that were enfeebled,” and he “feared not God.” Amalek, for Jewish tradition, embodies evil incarnate in the world; we are commanded to remember Amalek, and the Almighty’s enmity for it, because, as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik explained, the biblical appellation refers not only to one tribe but also to our enemies throughout the ages who will follow the original Amalek’s example. To say “May God avenge their blood” is to remind all who hear us that there is a war against Amalek from generation to generation—and we believe that, in this war, God is not neutral.

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More about: Amalek, Anti-Semitism, Judaism, Religion & Holidays