Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Debunking the US government thought process on the PA’s ‘Martyr Fund’


By Martin Leeper - April 02, 2018
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Section: [Main News]
Tags: [US foreign policy] [aid] [martyr]

Last week the US Congress passed a 1.3 trillion dollar spending bill. Within over 2,000 pages was a small hidden piece of legislation called the Taylor Force Act

Contrary to a spending bill, this act dictates how the US cannot spend money. The act cuts foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over a long standing social program, the so-called martyr’s fund, which provides assistance to families of political prisoners or Palestinians killed resisting Israel’s occupation.  
 
The act was named in memory of Taylor Force, a US Army veteran who was stabbed to death in 2016 on the streets of Tel Aviv. After the passing of the bill, Chuck Schumer, the senate minority leader of the Democratic Party told the Algemeiner, “Now the Palestinian Authority will face additional financial consequences for its abhorrent policy.”
 
The martyr’s fund was set up in 1967, the same year as the Six-Day War as a way to compensate and recruit fighters to resist Israel’s military occupation. Since then the fund has ballooned into a substantial welfare program assisting roughly 35,000 Palestinian families.
 
Israeli politicians and pro-Israel groups around the world use terror, terrorism and terrorists to devalue and dehumanize the Palestinian struggle against an oppressive occupation.
 
As in America, any act big or small is so quickly labeled terrorism the term has lost any semblance of meaning.
 
The fund does provide money to the families of violent perpetrators, but true terror attacks are the great minority of recipients. To say the Palestinian Authority (PA) is funding terrorism is vastly overstating what the fund does and recklessly avoids the realities of life under occupation - the lack of rights or access to a just legal system and the constant, violent reminders of who is in power.
 
Was the stabbing Taylor Force a horrific and terror inducing act of violence? Yes. But was the teenager, Ahed Tamimi, terrorizing the Israeli soldiers on her family’s property moments after they shot her younger cousin?
 
The fund is a social counter to the fact that one could be detained without legal justification at any time. The support for families if they lose a family member whether they were a source of income or not helps keep social stability.
 
This is why even Israel doesn’t truly want them to halt the fund for fear the PA might fall out of favor and give space for more radical organizations like Hamas.
 
Does this fund actually inspire violence and terrorism?
 
Dawoud Yusef is a spokesman for Addameer, a prisoner support and human rights association based in Ramallah. Yusef sees no reason to believe this fund inspires attacks. His reasoning is fairly simple, if this fund was an economic incentive than we would see “attacks rise during times of economic hardship. We would see a corresponding decrease in the economy with a rise in attacks,” Yusef said. This, however, is not the case.
 
Yusef believes if money was the only consideration then we would see much more attacks, particularly in places of greater economic turmoil, such as East Jerusalem. Again, however, this is not the case.
 
“It’s insulting,” Yusef said. “Any argument that tries to say the money [is the motivator] overlooks the a) nationalist motive or b) the occupation motive.” The idea, for Yusef, follows this greater trend to dehumanize the Palestinian.
 
If money is the only factor than there is no moral calculation or justification. Therefore, if any Palestinian had the opportunity to kill an Israeli they would because they are without normal human emotion.
 
“It’s saying if all Palestinians had the choice to be assassins, specifically against people they apparently hate, then they would because they’re not fully human,” Yusef said. “It is a part of this narrative that reduces Palestinians down to animals.”
 
If money isn’t the incentive for Palestinian’s hostility towards Israel but rather Israel’s occupation of Palestine, then the lack of funding won’t change very much on the ground.
 
Israel has little to fear, in general, from a de-militarized occupied people. The US, however, made sure not to leave the state vulnerable. In the same spending bill, the Congress approved nearly $4 billion in military aid for Israel. This is on top of a $38 billion military aid package back in 2016.
 
Since WWII and the creation of Israel it has been the greatest single recipient of US foreign assistance.

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