US officials say that President Joe Biden is planning to visit a major Palestinian Arab hospital in Jerusalem during his upcoming trip to Israel. Good. Maybe it will galvanize the president to rethink the racist attitudes that are inherent in the administration’s treatment of the Palestinian Arabs.
Al-Makassed Hospital, the hospital which Biden is reportedly planning to visit, is the largest of six Palestinian Arab hospitals in Jerusalem. It is in the midst of a financial crisis caused by the Palestinian Authority.
The problem is that the PA regularly refers patients to Al-Makassed from the hospitals in the PA controlled territory, but then fails to pay the bills for their treatment. The Arab news service Middle East Monitor reported last month that the PA currently owes $47 million (NIS 157 m.) to Al-Makassed. That was a month ago; by now, the debt is probably even larger.
As a result, Al-Makassed has been unable to pay its staff or pay for equipment that it needs. The situation is so bad that recently the hospital was forced to close its doors except for emergency patients.
Biden's visit brings funds
But fear not. The Biden administration appears to be ready to come to the PA’s rescue. The Jerusalem Post reports that a Biden visit “could mean renewed funding after the Trump administration cut $25-million (NIS 84 m.) to the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network, of which Al-Makassed is a member.”
It seems obvious that if Biden goes to Al-Makassed, it will involve writing them a check. He’s not going to visit a bunch of bed-ridden cancer patients and then tell reporters, “Sorry, we don’t have any money for them.” If he wasn’t preparing to give them a sizable donation, he would pick some other site to visit.
Biden should not be cleaning up the PA’s mess. Instead, he should say to the PA leadership: “Stop paying terrorists and start paying your hospital bills.”
“The Palestinian Authority’s legislation and allocations of monthly salaries and benefits rewarding imprisoned and released terrorists, and the families of martyrs amount to $300 million (NIS 1 b.) annually.”Brig.-Gen.(res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
That $300-million is enough to pay the PA’s tab at Al-Makassed six times over. The problem, in other words, is not a lack of funds. The PA has more than enough money to pay its bills at Al-Makassed, it simply chooses not to. And why should it when the Biden administration can be counted on to foot the bill with the American taxpayers’ money?
Biden's treatment of the Palestinian Authority
This is where the racist attitudes comes in.
Adults pay their bills. The Biden administration treats the leaders of the Palestinian Authority as children or worse. The implication of letting the PA get away with not paying its bills is that there is something inherently inferior about Palestinian Arabs that makes them incapable of understanding that they have to pay the money they owe.
Is Biden saying that Palestinian Arabs are, by their nature, too stupid, too irresponsible, or too immoral to pay their bills? All three, it seems.
This is yet another illustration of what is known as the soft bigotry of low expectations, a phrase coined by Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for former president George W. Bush.
Biden is in effect saying to the PA, “We expect you to stiff the hospitals and give the money to terrorists instead. You’re too stupid to know better. So, we’ll just keep bailing you out. We’ll pay the hospitals, so you don’t have to.”
And so, the Al-Makassed Hospital has become the collateral damage in this tragedy, a victim of the Biden administration’s soft bigotry towards Palestinian Arabs.
The writer is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism.