I caught my breath when I read this piece in The Times of Israel — How American taxpayers are funding Palestinian terrorism, by Edwin Black, November 10, 2013. The takeaway message is that the Palestinian Authority, the author asserts, is using donations from the US and other countries to pay monthly salaries to Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails for “acts of terrorism”.
Under a sliding scale, carefully articulated in the Law of the Prisoner, the more heinous the act of terrorism and the longer the prison sentence, the higher is the salary. Detention for up to three years fetches a salary of almost $400 per month. Prisoners incarcerated between three and five years will be paid about $560 monthly — a compensation level already higher than that for many ordinary West Bank jobs. Sentences of 10 to 15 years fetch salaries of about $1,690 per month. More severe acts of terrorism, those punished with sentences between 15 and 20 years, earn almost $2,000 per month. These are the best salaries in the Palestinian territories. The Arabic word ratib, meaning “salary,” is the official term for this compensation. The law ensures the greatest financial reward for the most egregious acts of terrorism.
My first response was disgust and outrage! Killing, maiming, and butchery should never be rewarded regardless of who the perpetrator and victim might be. In a very impoverished community, won’t poor young men and women be enticed to commit acts of violence just to provide a monthly salary for their families? I think it’s very likely.
I’ve heard the average salary for attorneys in Gaza is about $500 USD per month. If this journalist is correct, it appears to be much more lucrative to commit “an act of terrorism” and draw a salary of $2000 USD per month. Think of it —- the prisoner could be making 4 times what his lawyer brings home.
Then I paused and thought about this horrific transaction.
Palestinians consider these people “freedom fighters” or “resistance fighters”. If these fighters are killed, they are “martyrs”. Large posters are plastered all over the Gaza Strip with pictures of martyrs who are highly respected by everyone. One young Palestinian in his late 20s – early 30s has memorized the name, date and circumstances of martyrdom for each and every martyr. This is quite a feat since there have been thousands.
Freedom fighters = soldiers. Resistance fighters = military (albeit with less hardware and munitions at their disposal).
Stripping away the uniforms, weapons, and the power structure from the soldiers in the Israeli army, what remains? Young men and women fighting for a cause they believe in, willing to kill, maim and butcher the enemy as directed by their superiors. And each is drawing a salary. I doubt that American taxpayers are directly contributing to the Israeli soldiers’ salaries, but there’s no doubt that we’re subsidizing Israel’s military to the tune of $3 Billion/year, in equipment and armaments. My U.S. Senator, Martin Heinrich, is very proud of his support for these expenditures of US tax dollars. He’s bought the AIPAC mantra hook, line and sinker — “Israel has a right to defend herself.”
If we feel disgust at paying salaries to Palestinian freedom fighters, than we must be intellectually honest and feel disgust at subsidizing Israel’s military. Americans are fueling this savagery (perhaps on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide) and only our military industrial complex is the winner because much of the $3 Billion/year actually stays in the United States in the form of contracts for purchase of weapons.
I consider our transactions on both sides of this conflict disgusting. Americans should be helping to create a new world, not paying for the killing occurring on both sides of the Green Line.