On Thursday evening, Channel 2’s Ilana Dayan conducted a fawning interview with US Secretary of State John Kerry about the chances for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
This was followed by a panel discussion, led by Dayan, with radical leftist commentator Amnon Abromovitch and chief Israeli negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
Naturally, everyone discussed the question of whether Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would “do an about-face” on his life-long beliefs, for the sake of peace.
Kerry was evasive, saying that this was up to the parties in the negotiations.
Abromovitch was openly disdainful and pessimistic. Livni kept repeating that she was working closely with Netanyahu to make sure that certain clauses would be included in Kerry’s “framework” proposal.
But basically, the message from all was that, whatever happens, Netanyahu will be responsible. It was as predictable as it was nauseating. PA President Mahmoud Abbas must have enjoyed watching it on TV in his hotel in Paris, where he had just completed two rounds of one-on-one “in-depth” discussions with Kerry about the “core issues.”
Too bad Kerry was with Abbas in France on Wednesday, and not in Jerusalem, where he could have been treated to an eye-opening presentation at a special session of the Knesset, organized by coalition vice chairman MK Robert Ilatov.
Ilatov hosted American syndicated columnist Edwin Black, who provided an overview of his latest book, Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terror in Israel.
Black, the son of Holocaust survivors who “has been in the human rights movement for nearly half a century,” is not a right-winger. This is probably why Knesset members from a cross-section of parties showed up, however briefly, to pay their respects. It also helps to explain the willingness of the British European parliaments to hear him out and take him seriously earlier this month, prior to his arrival in Israel.
“I do not come as a conservative or a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican,” he said.
“I don’t vote in the Israeli elections ... Nothing I’m doing can be construed as against any organization. It can only be construed as for the Jewish people.”
The organization to which he was alluding is the New Israel Fund, whose activities, both charitable and pernicious, are meticulously documented in his book. And he kept pointing out that, in spite of his scathing expose, the NIF and other groups involved in similar activities “also do a lot of good things.”
These “good things,” such as running shelters for battered women, were not the focus of his talk, however. Instead, he painted a chilling picture of the money trail, leading from the likes of George Soros, via “human rights” organizations engaged in a concerted effort to undermine Israel, and smack into the pockets of Palestinians who kill Jews.
Yes, he said, “A Palestinian can go from being a nobody to a somebody ... from rags to riches, just by blowing up a bus [in Israel] or breaking into a house and slitting the throats of some young [Israeli] children. As soon as [he] gets sentenced, he [begins to receive] a PA salary. It could be a few hundred dollars a month for a short sentence ...and up to several thousands of dollars a month for maybe killing 20-30 people and getting a 30-year sentence.”
Nor is jail time a deterrent. “Nobody believes they’re going to serve [a full] sentence,” he said, “because they are going to be part of the next prisoner release, or of the next discussion even to have a discussion about a prisoner release.”
This travesty is supervised by the Palestinian Ministry for Prisoners and written into PA legislation. The law determines an ascending pay scale for terrorists: The more the carnage and the longer the prison term, the higher the salary.
According to Black, “This takes up $5-7 million a month – approximately six percent – of the PA budget. If you add in the other payments [to terrorists] for weddings, social events, special bonuses, academic scholarships, it comes to 16% of the Palestinian budget.
"And where does the money come from? From American and European taxpayers.”
Until the blood-for-money law is rescinded, he said, “There can be no peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”
Black recounted the shock experienced by parliamentarians in London and Brussels when faced with the facts in his book – facts he assumed would come as no surprise to members of the Knesset.
Sadly, however, it is not facts that have been shaping American and European foreign policy; even key figures in the Israeli government are not swayed by them.
Ideology trumps information every time, after all.
This is why Black’s revelations required as much bravery as journalistic integrity. It is also the reason that Kerry refuses to forfeit his fantasy of peace in favor of reality.
As he told Dayan during her interview, “People who know me know that when I sink my teeth into something, if I get the bit between my teeth, I try to get it done.”
The writer is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring’.