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The Senate Should Stop Stalling and End U.S. Funding for Palestinian Terror

March 7 2018

In December, the House of Representatives passed the Taylor Force Act, which would withhold aid from the Palestinian Authority (PA) until it ends payments to terrorists and their families and takes steps to discourage terror. The Senate, however, is holding up the bill. Michael Barbero, Sander Gerber, and Michael Makovsky urge senators to prioritize its passage:

As soon as a terrorist is arrested, the PA provides him with a salary and, sometimes, a guaranteed government job upon release. The bloodier the crime and longer the sentence, the greater the reward. . . . The families of, as official Palestinian documents put it, “those martyred and wounded as a result of being participants or bystanders in the revolution” . . . also receive a monthly payment, health insurance, and tuition assistance. . . . In 2017, the Palestinian Authority budgeted $350 million to reward terrorism—around $160 million for jailed and released terrorists plus $190 million for terrorists’ families. This is roughly what American taxpayers contribute to Palestinians through payment of PA debts and direct support of projects in PA territories (excluding several hundred-million dollars to the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency).

On strategic and humanitarian grounds, the United States should support the Palestinian people. A viable, uncorrupt, moderate PA serves U.S. and Israeli interests. Indeed, Israel and the PA cooperate on security matters, serving the interests of both parties, and it is important that such cooperation continue.

But none of these interests is served when the PA pays terrorists. Nor will suspending aid that amounts to roughly 8 percent of the PA’s budget trigger its collapse. Instead, it would pressure the PA to choose between terror and its people, revealing its true nature.

Read more at The Hill

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

The Future of a Free Iran May Lie with a Restoration of the Shah

June 25 2018

Examining the recent waves of protest and political unrest in the Islamic Republic—from women shunning the hijab to truckers going out on strike—Sohrab Ahmari considers what would happen in the event of an actual collapse of the regime. Through an analysis of Iranian history, he concludes that the country would best be served by placing Reza Pahlavi, the son and heir of its last shah, at the head of a constitutional monarchy:

The end of Islamist rule in Iran would be a world-historical event and an unalloyed good for the country and its neighbors, marking a return to normalcy four decades after the Ayatollah Khomeini founded his regime. . . . But what exactly is that normalcy? . . .

First, Iranian political culture demands a living source of authority to embody the will of the nation and stand above a fractious and ethnically heterogenous society. Put another way, Iranians need a “shah” of some sort. They have never lived collectively without one, and their political imagination has always been directed toward a throne. The constitutionalist experiment of the early 20th century coexisted (badly) with monarchic authority, and the current Islamic Republic has a supreme leader—which is to say, a shah by another name. It is the height of utopianism to imagine that a 2,500-year-old tradition can be wiped away. The presence of a shah, [however], needn’t mean the absence of rule of law, deliberative politics, or any of the other elements of ordered liberty that the West cherishes in its own systems. . . .

Second, Iranian political culture demands a source of continuity with Persian history. The anxieties associated with modernity and centuries of historical discontinuity drove Iranians into the arms of Khomeini and his bearded minions, who promised a connection to Shiite tradition. Khomeinism turned out to be a bloody failure, but there is scant reason to imagine the thirst for continuity has been quenched. . . . Iranian nationalism . . . could be the answer, and, to judge by the nationalist tone of the current upheaval, it is the one the people have already hit upon.

When protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me,” they are expressing a positive vision of Iranian nationhood: no longer do they wish to pay the price for the regime’s Shiite hegemonic ambitions. Iranian blood should be spilled for Iran, not Gaza, which for most Iranians is little more than a geographical abstraction. It is precisely its nationalist dimension that makes the current revolt the most potent the mullahs have yet faced. Nationalism, after all, is a much stronger force and in Iran the longing for historical continuity runs much deeper than liberal-democratic aspiration. Westerners who wish to see a replay of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 in today’s Iran will find the lessons of Iranian history hard and distasteful, but Iranians and their friends who wish to see past the Islamic Republic must pay heed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Nationalism, Politics & Current Affairs, Shah