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

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times