Funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, murdered in West Bank terror attack shooting, January 10, 2017 .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Sometimes only after a tragedy are the amazing lives of special people revealed to the public.
That was the case with Rabbi Raziel Shevach. An educator, a mohel, a volunteer at Magen David Adom, Kav L’Chaim and other organizations, a father of six and a dedicated husband, Shevach used his limited time on earth to the utmost in the service of good. After his murder at the hands of despicable Islamist terrorists on Tuesday night, some of Raziel’s many contributions to making the world a better place have become better known.
It is a small consolation for a great loss.
Compounding the magnitude of the loss is the knowledge that it could have been avoided.
The terrorists who pulled the trigger were acting within a very specific religious and culture climate that is being fostered by an ostensibly moderate Palestinian Authority.
As US Ambassador David Friedman noted in a tweet, “Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial awards.”
Friedman was referring to the way Hamas and the PA split responsibilities. While Hamas openly supports targeting Israeli civilians, the PA claims to oppose use of violence to further its political ends, so as to gain legitimacy in international forums while at the same time rewarding the families of Palestinian terrorists who were either killed while carrying a terrorist attack against Israeli civilians or who are serving prison time in Israel prisons for terrorist activity.
Since the US provides hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the PA every year, American taxpayers are underwriting Palestinian terrorism. So is Israel, by agreeing to transfer to the PA hundreds of millions of shekels in tax revenues every month. True, these are taxes paid by Palestinians to Israeli tax authorities that rightly belong to the Palestinians. But why should these revenues go to the PA, a body that actively encourages terrorist attacks against Israelis?
The Trump administration is well aware of the absurdity of this situation and is taking steps to end it.
The Taylor Force Act, which is in the final stages of being approved in Washington, seeks to cut US aid to the PA if it continues to compensate terrorists and their families.
Another proposal is to gradually divest from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency so as to encourage Palestinians to adopt a more pragmatic stance toward peace and become more proactive in building a Palestinian autonomy, instead of relying on handouts from the US. The thinking is that if the present Palestinian leadership stands to lose from its intransigence and its support for terrorism, it will either change its ways or be replaced by a more responsible leadership.
At the very least, Americans will stop funding terrorism.
The argument against the Trump administration’s approach, which has been used by Palestinians for years, is that if the PA is not kept afloat the alternative will be much worse. The occasional drive-by shooting, like the one that ended the life of Shevach, is the price to pay for this arrangement.
This is too high a price. The time has come to challenge this paradigm. It might seem as though the PA is the only thing preventing complete anarchy in the West Bank and that UNRWA is the only safety net preventing a full-flung humanitarian disaster in Gaza. But it is impossible to know whether Palestinian society is capable of positive change unless it is given a fair chance. Precipitating a budget crisis designed to end the PA’s support for terrorism is risk worth taking. And the same goes for phasing out UNRWA.
There are only so many bypass roads, security fences and security cameras that Israel can install to defend the lives of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. And while the IDF and the Shin Bet will undoubtedly redouble efforts to confiscate the massive amounts of illegal arms in places like Nablus so that no terrorist has the ability to shoot 22 bullets at a man like Shevach, Israel’s ability is limited as long as the PA offers incentives to prospective terrorists and Hamas actively provides material and training.
Ultimately, the only way to end terrorism is by replacing or radically changing the Palestinian political leadership. For this to happen, the PA and Hamas must know they risk losing power if they continue with their charade.
The loss of men like Shevach is a too dear price to pay for maintaining the status quo.
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