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Thursday, February 16 2006

Dollars and Sense

DollarsEver since NY Times correspondent Steve Erlanger reported alleged American-Israeli plans to actively destabilize the PA in order to force new elections, (both governments deny this) we’ve noticed a spillover effect in the op-ed pages. Issues of meddling vs. reasonable reservations over the wisdom of providing money have become simply blurred.

Withholding money from the PA in and of itself doesn’t indicate an intention to meddle in Palestinian affairs. Yet a NY Times editorial criticizing the withholding of aid argued:

If the new government fails to deliver because it puts continued terrorism over the well-being of the Palestinian people, it may indeed be booted out of office. But a Hamas that could explain continued Palestinian misery by a deliberate American-Israeli plan to reverse the democratic verdict of the polls would be likely to become only stronger….

Washington publicly asserts that no such plan is being discussed. A far wiser course for the United States to pursue would be to step back and desist from deliberately provoking the Palestinians, and give Hamas a chance to reconsider its own options.

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer recently slammed this line of thinking, noting two significant reasons for cutting off support to a Hamas-led PA:

First, because money is fungible. Every dollar we spend for Palestinian social services is a dollar freed up for a Hamas government to purchase rockets, guns and suicide belts for the "Palestinian army" that Meshal has already declared he intends to build.

Second, because it sends the Palestinians precisely the wrong message. If they were under a dictatorship that imposed rejectionism on them, there would be a case for helping a disenfranchised Palestinian people. But they just held the most open and honest exercise of democracy in Palestinian history. The Palestinian people chose. However much they love victimhood, they are not victims here. They are actors. And historical actors have to take responsibility.

Can’t the Times (or the Boston Globe, or the Sydney Morning Herald for that matter) judge the issue of Palestinian aid on it’s own merits?



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