On April 7, the eve of the Jewish holiday of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced to the world that the United States will reinstate “economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people.” However generous this may appear, it actually means that the Biden administration chose Holocaust Remembrance Day to declare their intention to finance Palestinian-Arab terrorism with American tax dollars, including “$75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million for peacebuilding programs through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and $150 million in humanitarian assistance for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).”
The Biden administration chose Holocaust Remembrance Day to declare their intention to finance Palestinian-Arab terrorism with American tax dollars.
Apart from the moral questions this raises, one significant problem is that the U.S. government enacted the Taylor Force Act (H.R. 1164), which ensures that the U.S. government cannot use American tax revenues to pay for Palestinian political violence in Israel. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on December 5, 2017, and signed into law by President Trump on March 23, 2018. The Taylor Force Act (TFA) requires that the U.S. government only give aid to the Palestinian Authority on the strict condition that the PA takes “credible steps to end acts of violence against Israeli citizens and United States citizens,” such as the March 2016 attack that killed former U.S. Army officer Taylor Force while he was visiting the Jewish State on a goodwill mission.
A recent piece by Bassam Tawil for the Gatestone Institute International Policy Council reveals that the Biden administration has informed Congress that the PA uses international and U.S. cash to pay off killers and their families. Tawil explains that the Biden administration “emphasized that the PA’s actions will not impact its plan to renew funding to the Palestinians.” This is in direct violation of American law. The obvious truth is that President Biden and his administration have no intention of abiding by the Taylor Force Act. The Democratic Party, especially its progressive wing, are no longer allies nor friends to the Jewish people or the Jewish State of Israel. Their entire concern is for whatever they consider to be social and economic justice for the Palestinian people.
The United States should not finance political violence against Jews and Americans in Israel. The Palestinian Authority’s practice of funding that violence is known throughout the West as Pay-for-Slay and within the PA, using religious terminology, as the Martyrs Fund. It is a slush fund that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA use to financially compensate any local Arab who kills or attacks any Jew or any Jewish ally, anywhere in Israel. The more blood, the wider Mahmoud Abbas opens his rather substantial wallet.
That the U.S. is again providing financial support under these circumstances is not surprising, considering Joe Biden’s long and unfortunate history of undermining Israel. On June 22, 1982, Biden famously threatened to cut off U.S. financial aid and was rebuked by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who told him:
Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.
In less than two months in office, Biden has already reversed a slew of policies that President Trump had secured, including a return to calling East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and Judea and Samaria “occupied territories.” Under President Trump, the United States did not finance Palestinian terrorism against Israel. Taylor Force was a 28-year-old Army vet who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before he was murdered on behalf of “Palestinian liberation.” His wife was left bloodied on the streets of Jaffa that day, March 9, 2016. He was a Christian American victim of the Palestinian Authority and its hatred for Jews and for fundamental Western norms of decency and morality.
President Biden is now in an untenable situation: he promises that he will give U.S. cash-dollars to the PA even as the PA vows to maintain the Martyrs Fund. Last November, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris told the world: “We will take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem, and work to reopen the PLO mission in Washington.”
Biden, however, seemed to contradict his Vice President by insisting that his administration will abide by the Taylor Force Act. “I’m going to fully support the Taylor Force Act, which holds aid to the PA based on payments they make to terrorists in Israeli jails,” he said.
Meanwhile, just months after the passage of the TFA, Mahmoud Abbas swore that he will finance the Martyrs Fund by any means necessary. MEMRI TV translates:
At a ceremony held in Ramallah on July 23, 2018, to honor Palestinian prisoners and “martyrs,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: “If we had one single penny left, we would spend it on the families of the martyrs and the prisoners… We consider the martyrs and the prisoners to be stars in the sky of the Palestinian people and struggle.“
The unresolved question prior to this moment was how President Biden intended to simultaneously uphold the Taylor Force Act while restoring funding to the Abbas regime. The answer is now clarified, as Biden appears satisfied to have it both ways. He will finance the Martyrs Fund while claiming to do otherwise, and most Americans, Democrats especially, won’t know or care.
In a March 12, 2021, Algemeiner piece titled, “Is the Biden Administration Planning on Violating the Taylor Force Act?” by (Taylor’s father) Stuart Force, Sander Gerber, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, we read that “news reports indicate the PA believes it can satisfy the Administration by making terrorist compensation ‘needs based.’” In other words, whereas previously PA compensation was based on physical harm inflicted upon Jewish and American citizens, now it will be based on the economic needs of the attackers and their families. The Palestinian Authority apparently hopes this will allow the Biden administration to legally skirt the legislation. But whether that maneuver succeeds or not, money is fungible and thus can be used on needs outside of the Martyrs Fund while freeing up other funds to go to precisely that.
For example, Shoshana Bryen notes:
American money will be used for schools, water projects, ‘civil society’ programming and agriculture. But fungibility means that the PA won’t have to spend its money on those things, and will therefore have more money to pay terrorist salaries.
It should not, therefore, be an enormous surprise that just days before Joe Biden took office, the PA doubled its payment to the terrorist who murdered an Israeli mother, as the blogger Elder of Ziyon tells us. The PA paid cash to the murderer of Dafna Meir, a nurse and mother of six children, just prior to Biden actually taking office. Since then, Mahmoud Abbas and the PA are preparing again to fund murder with American cash. This will be in addition to the funds it already receives from other sources, such as the European Union, the United Nations, and any number of anti-Zionist NGOs.
As we read in the Jerusalem Post on March 12, 2021:
The two Palestinian terrorists who killed Ruti and Udi Fogel and three of their children a decade ago will receive a 50% pay raise from the Palestinian Authority ten years after the 2011 attack, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported. The two have received a monthly salary as part of the PA’s “pay for slay” policy since the day of their arrest, with each earning NIS 338,400 ($101,847) so far.
The article goes on to note that if the Palestinians who murdered the Fogels and their three children are released, they will continue to receive funding that comes from foreign sources, potentially now including U.S. government funding. If, for example, they live to be 80 years old they will have received something close to NIS 6.5 million—almost 2 million in U.S. dollars.
Yet another way that the PA enables the Biden administration in its efforts to enable them is through hiring released terrorists to do no work. Palestinian Media Watch tell us:
In reality, the terrorists receive the payment merely as a reward for their acts of terror and pursuant to their incarceration. Despite receiving a ‘salary,’ they are only actually required to fulfil the duties of their ostensible positions, if specifically ‘requested’ to do so.
Under President Biden, American Jews may now be compelled to finance the murderers of their brethren in Israel—in the name of “social justice.”
Sander Gerber, who helped draft the Taylor Force Act, is quoted in the Algemeiner as saying that there “is an open acknowledgment by the State Department that the Palestinian Authority is actively sponsoring terrorists and that it has taken no steps to revoke the laws and dismantle the bureaucracy of its terrorist payment structure. Unless the laws that pay terrorists are revoked, the Biden administration giving money to the PA could be guilty of money laundering for terrorism.”
What seems clear is that this administration has little interest in upholding American law vis-à-vis Palestinian-Arab terrorism against Israeli civilians or even against Americans. What is perhaps most galling is that under President Biden, American Jews may now be compelled to finance the murderers of their brethren in Israel—in the name of “social justice.”
Michael Lumish is a Ph.D. in American History from Pennsylvania State University who has taught at Penn State University, San Francisco State University, and the City College of San Francisco.