The welcome disruption in Palestinian aid
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Churchill’s aphorism, “If you are going through hell, keep going,” is as interesting for what it doesn’t say as for what it does. Because of the traits that made its author great, we think of it as a call to persevere in the face of hardship – which it is. The unstated corollary is that one’s journey shouldn’t be unnecessarily prolonged.

Months after its welcome decision to cut by half U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – an organization so corrupt it has been called “one of the greatest obstacles to peace” - the Trump administration recently announced its decision to cut $200 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority and a number of NGO-run programs in Judea/Samaria. It’s worth recalling that the PA froze relations with the U.S. in December after we moved our embassy to Israel’s capital in accordance with U.S. law.


The reaction to the administration’s decision was swift and predictable. “The U.S. administration is demonstrating the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool,” said Palestine Liberation Organization’s Hanan Ashrawi, who has spent decades providing outraged soundbites to credulous Western media. That’s not actually how blackmail works, which Dr. Ashrawi should know since she and her comrades have been practicing it for years and to great effect on gullible Westerners.

The reliable chorus of Palestinian sympathizers also howled their disapproval. J Street, a left-wing pressure group that the PLO’s Washington emissary recently referred to as his “allies,” condemned the move as an attempt “to adopt as US policy the disastrous agenda of Israel’s far-right.” They claim that the cuts are a blueprint “for one side’s capitulation.” That’s true and welcome, except J Street disagrees with the side that’s being pressured to capitulate.

While the American people, individually and collectively, are incredibly generous to international humanitarian causes, it’s worth noting that the aid monies provided by American taxpayers are not merely charitable. They should be tied to specific policy outcomes. In the case of the Palestinian Authority, not only have those policy goals been unsuccessful, they’ve been ostentatiously mocked by the recipients.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in desperate need of disruption. In this conflict, a disruptive event usually takes the form of violent outbursts in which Palestinians disproportionately suffer for the provocative actions of their terror groups. The Peace Process Cartel – the group of international journo-tourists, State Department alums, and Aspen-Davos sophisticates that has spent the last quarter century being flamboyantly wrong about negotiated peace – believes that political disruption can work only one way: Israel makes tangible concessions such as giving up terrorist prisoners or land in exchange for intangible Palestinian promises and rescindable recognitions.

The Trump administration has decided to try a different tactic: the United States will support our ally and sister democracy in the conflict and will pressure the recidivist terror organization that nominally governs the “West Bank” to implement changes – changes whose necessity are in dispute by exactly no one. Instead of continuing to fork over millions of American dollars in exchange for policy outcomes that everyone agrees fly in the face of our national interests, we’ll put pressure on the side that deserves it rather than the side that some people think is best-equipped to handle it.

Will Palestinian civilians suffer because of these cuts? Regrettably, that’s a real possibility. U.S. taxpayers should take note, though, that the donors appear more concerned about Palestinian suffering than do the recipients who are, after all, tasked with actually governing Palestinians.

Continuing on our road through hell just because it’s the road we know best isn’t the answer to this conflict. Precisely the opposite. Governments generally resist disruption and course correction, but we’ve indulged that luxury for far too long and with disastrous results. Change was needed and this change – this disruption – is a welcome one.

Jonathan Greenberg is an ordained reform rabbi and the senior vice president of the Haym Salomon Center. An expert in Middle East policy and former staffer at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, you can follow him @JGreenbergSez.