Friday, December 21, 2007

Will Lavishing more $$$ on the Palestinians Miraculously Make them more Stateworthy?

Six months ago I wrote about the dangers of enabling (On the Disastrous Consequences of "Enabling": Pitfalls Ahead of New 'Mideast Envoy' 6/29 & Why "Enabling" Only Perpetuates the Problem 6/18), a concept in psychology that describes counterproductive efforts to help an individual, often in the throes of addiction. Enabling is doing for someone things that they could, and should be doing themselves. Simply, enabling creates a atmosphere in which the individual can comfortably continue his unacceptable behavior.
The analogy seems an apt one for the West in its efforts to "help" the Palestinians move closer towards statehood. Below, several articles pointing out why this hasn't worked so well in the past and why it's not likely to meet with great success now. What's most confounding is that we seem to have learned little from the recent past. The Palestinian Authority has squandered more than $6 billion dollars in aid since 1994, making the Palestinians the most subsidized people on the planet.
Don't get me wrong; I understand that ordinary Palestinians are suffering and their needs are great. I'm not adverse to the West providing both humanitarian aid as well as assistance in building their economy and social infrastructure. But is it unreasonable to attach a few minimal strings to that handsome sum now pledged, totaling over $8 billion? Couldn't we get them to maybe eliminate the incitement to hatred emanating from their airwaves? At least humor us with a moratorium on the 'Virgins of Paradise' music video, exhorting young men to commit jihad and become martyrs on the fast track to Paradise? Or to insert some maps in the school textbooks that actually show Israel existing in the Middle East? Or put a damper on the Friday sermons at the local mosques preaching death to the Jews? Or do we really believe that more money and good faith is the answer?
david brumer

International Aid to PA No Guarantee for Boosting Moderates - Khaled Abu Toameh
Since its establishment in 1994, the PA has received nearly $6.5 billion in international aid. The assumption was that economic prosperity would weaken radicals and boost the moderates among the Palestinians. But hundreds of millions of dollars went into secret bank accounts or to build villas for senior PA officials. The international community that was pouring money on the PA did not seem to care about the stories of financial corruption and embezzlement. Nor did the donors pay attention to the fact that Arafat was inciting his people not only against Israel, but also against the same "infidels" who were signing his checks. While the billions of dollars promised at the Paris conference on Monday are likely to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians and strengthen their economy, there is no guarantee that the financial aid would have a moderating effect on many of them. This money is mainly designed to keep Fatah in power and prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank. Unless the PA changes its rhetoric and starts promoting real peace and coexistence with Israel, the millions of dollars are not going to create a new generation of moderate Palestinians. The only way to undermine Hamas is not by channeling billions of dollars to the PA leadership, but by offering the Palestinians a better alternative to the Islamist movement. (Jerusalem Post)


What About the Palestinians' Record? - Diana West
Christmas came early to the Palestinian Authority when the "international community" decided to pledge billions in aid. Why? Did the PA end its terrorist ways? Stop state-sanctioned incitement against Israel and the West? Change Fatah's charter (forget about Hamas) calling for Israel's destruction? What we call "foreign aid" to the PA may be understood as a form of "jizya," the protection money paid to Muslims by non-Muslims. We avert our collective eye from the goals of jihad. Instead, we see ourselves as villains - Israel for its existence, and Israel's supporters for, well, their support for Israel's existence. (Washington Times)

What to Expect for $8.6B in Palestinian Aid - Greg Sheridan
So international donors have pledged $8.6 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority. This eye-popping amount of money will continue the Palestinians' status as the highest per capita aid recipients in the world. Not that I'm suggesting Palestinians don't have it tough, even if most of their suffering is caused by the appalling decisions of their corrupt, incompetent and extremist leadership. The aid pledged in Paris may do some good. It may stabilize living standards on the West Bank. And by exacerbating the contrast between a more prosperous West Bank, controlled by Fatah, and an increasingly poverty-stricken Gaza, controlled by the religious extremists, Hamas, it may strengthen Fatah against Hamas. Assuming all this works out perfectly, at the very best we might get a slightly improved status quo. Fatah is a busted flush of ageing cronies and local war lords. It has not produced a new generation of leaders and it has very little support among the Palestinian people. Remove the Israelis from the West Bank and the estimates of how long Fatah would remain in power range from two weeks to two hours. (The Australian)

Questions about Palestinian Aid - Steven Stotsky
The argument for increasing foreign aid to the Palestinians stems from the belief that the way to defeat radicalism is to eliminate its ostensible cause - poverty and ignorance. But as early as 1958, Daniel Lerner discerned that political activism in the Middle East was not driven by the "have nots," but rather by the "want mores." Claude Berrebi of Princeton University analyzed Palestinian terrorism and determined that "if anything...those with higher education and higher living standards are more likely to participate in terrorist activity." Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova in the Journal of Economic Perspectives found that Palestinian suicide bombers were more likely than the general population to have completed secondary education and were less likely to come from an impoverished environment. They also found similar results associated with membership in Hizbullah. (CAMERA)

What About the Palestinians' Record? - Diana WestChristmas came early to the Palestinian Authority when the "international community" decided to pledge billions in aid. Why? Did the PA end its terrorist ways? Stop state-sanctioned incitement against Israel and the West? Change Fatah's charter (forget about Hamas) calling for Israel's destruction? What we call "foreign aid" to the PA may be understood as a form of "jizya," the protection money paid to Muslims by non-Muslims. We avert our collective eye from the goals of jihad. Instead, we see ourselves as villains - Israel for its existence, and Israel's supporters for, well, their support for Israel's existence. (Washington Times)

What to Expect for $8.6B in Palestinian Aid - Greg SheridanSo international donors have pledged $8.6 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority. This eye-popping amount of money will continue the Palestinians' status as the highest per capita aid recipients in the world. Not that I'm suggesting Palestinians don't have it tough, even if most of their suffering is caused by the appalling decisions of their corrupt, incompetent and extremist leadership. The aid pledged in Paris may do some good. It may stabilize living standards on the West Bank. And by exacerbating the contrast between a more prosperous West Bank, controlled by Fatah, and an increasingly poverty-stricken Gaza, controlled by the religious extremists, Hamas, it may strengthen Fatah against Hamas. Assuming all this works out perfectly, at the very best we might get a slightly improved status quo. Fatah is a busted flush of ageing cronies and local war lords. It has not produced a new generation of leaders and it has very little support among the Palestinian people. Remove the Israelis from the West Bank and the estimates of how long Fatah would remain in power range from two weeks to two hours. (The Australian)

Funding the Palestinians
Daniel Pipes
Lavishing funds on Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to achieve peace has been a mainstay of Western, including Israeli, policy since Hamas seized Gaza in June. But this open spigot has counterproductive results and urgently must be stopped. Some background: Paul Morro of the Congressional Research Service reports that, in 2006, the European Union and its member states gave US$815 million to the Palestinian Authority, while the United States sent it $468 million. When other donors are included, the total receipts come to about $1.5 billion.The windfall keeps growing. President George W. Bush requested a $410 million supplement in October, beyond a $77 million donation earlier in the year. The State Department justifies this lordly sum on the grounds that it "supports a critical and immediate need to support a new Palestinian Authority (PA) government that both the U.S. and Israel view as a true ally for peace." At a recent hearing, Gary Ackerman, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, endorsed the supplemental donation.Not content with spending taxpayer money, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice launched a "U.S.-Palestinian Public Private Partnership" on Dec. 3, involving financial heavyweights such as Sandy Weill and Lester Crown, to fund, as Rice put it, "projects that reach young Palestinians directly, that prepare them for responsibilities of citizenship and leadership can have an enormous, positive impact."One report suggests the European Union has funneled nearly $2.5 billion to the Palestinians this year. Looking ahead, Abbas announced a goal to collect pledges of $5.8 billion in aid for a three-year period, 2008-10, at the "Donors' Conference for the Palestinian Authority" attended by over ninety states on Monday in Paris. (Using the best population estimate of 1.35 million Palestinians on the West Bank, this comes to a staggering amount of money: per capita, over $1,400 per year, or about what an Egyptian earns annually.) Endorsed by the Israeli government, Abbas immediately raised nearly that amount for 2008 at the donors' conference.Well, it's a bargain if it works, right? A few billion to end a dangerous, century-old conflict – it's actually a steal. But innovative research by
by Steven Stotsky, a research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) finds that an influx of money to the Palestinians has had the opposite effect historically. Relying on World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other official statistics, Stotsky compares two figures since 1999: budgetary support aid provided annually to the Palestinian Authority and the number of Palestinian homicides annually (including both criminal and terrorist activities, and both Israeli and Palestinian victims).
In brief, each $1.25 million or so of budgetary support aid translates into a death within the year. As Stotsky notes, "These statistics do not mean that foreign aid causes violence; but they do raise questions about the effectiveness of using foreign donations to promote moderation and combat terrorism."
The Palestinian record fits a broader pattern, as noted by Jean-Paul Azam and Alexandra Delacroix in a 2006 article, "Aid and the Delegated Fight Against Terrorism." They found "a pretty robust empirical result showing that the supply of terrorist activity by any country is positively correlated with the amount of foreign aid received by that country" – i.e., the more foreign aid, the more terrorism.
If these studies run exactly counter to the conventional supposition that poverty, unemployment, repression, "occupation," and malaise drive Palestinians to lethal violence, they do confirm my long-standing argument about
Palestinian exhilaration being the problem. The better funded Palestinians are, the stronger they become, and the more inspired to take up arms.
A topsy-turvy understanding of war economics has prevailed in Israel since the Oslo negotiations began in 1993. Rather than deprive their Palestinian enemies of resources, Israelis have been following Shimon Peres's mystical musings, and especially his 1993 tome, The New Middle East, to empower them economically. As I wrote in 2001, this "is tantamount to sending the enemy resources while fighting is still under way – not a hugely bright idea."
Rather than further funding Palestinian bellicosity, Western states, starting with Israel, should cut off all funds to the Palestinian Authority.
Mr. Pipes (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

2 comments:

Lao Qiao said...

What makes the Palestinians so very hard to understand is the fact that they are not fighting for their own intersts in conventional terms. Many of them, perhaps most of them, have defined their primary need as the destruction of Israel. Given a choice between achieving their own state and recognizing Israel, on the one hand, and dying in a jihad while killing Jews, on the other hand, they have been choosing the latter option ever since the U.N. voted to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, way back in 1947.
The United States and the Soviet Union managed to deal with each other during the Cold War since both sides wanted to survive. It is much harder to come to terms with an opponent for whom survival is not a priority.
The world assumes that statehood and, implicitly, survival are what the Palestinians most want. Some of them do. The majority prefers mutual destruction to mutual statehood.

NYAPIKORES said...

amen to lao qiao, who in a few stark sentences is able to encapsulate the 'Palestinian' mindset. thee keey is in in his last sentence.