Moral clarity

In the give and take of political negotiations, it is rare that a piece of legislation offers absolute moral clarity.

Taylor Force, 29, was killed by a Palestinian terrorist who went on a stabbing rampage in Jaffa on March 8, 2016 (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Taylor Force, 29, was killed by a Palestinian terrorist who went on a stabbing rampage in Jaffa on March 8, 2016
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
The Taylor Force Act, named after the US Army veteran murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Jaffa in 2016 and signed into law by US President Donald Trump on Friday, is that type of legislation.
It says something simple: Hard-earned US taxpayers’ money will not be used to incentivize terrorism, including terrorism directed against US citizens. Who can argue with that? The bill was conceived after it emerged that Bashar Masalha – a Palestinian from Kalkilya who murdered Taylor and wounded 12 others, including a pregnant woman, before being shot dead by police – was declared to be a “martyr” by the Palestinian Authority. The official label meant that Masalha’s family would be eligible for a monthly stipend paid for by the PA.
Imagine the pain of Stuart and Robbi Force, Taylor’s parents, when they learned their son’s murderer made money off their son’s death. Their pain was compounded by learning some of their US tax money goes to supporting the same PA that rewards jihadists like their son’s murderer and their families. The US provides the PA with $300 million annually. The PA doles out millions of dollars to jihadists and their families yearly.
Lindsey Graham, the Republican Senator of South Carolina, the state where Stuart and Robbi reside, understood that this distorted reality had to be righted.
Graham proposed making US aid to the PA conditional upon the ending of PA funding of terrorists and their families.
Taylor, a West Point graduate who fought against Islamists in Afghanistan and Iraq and who was in Israel learning about Israeli entrepreneurship as part of his Vanderbilt University MBA program, represents the best of American culture. He was the son that any mother or father would be proud of. Preventing the glorification of Taylor’s murderer, a nihilistic Islamist, who represents the worst of what humanity has to offer, is a moral duty.
There was legitimate concern among American lawmakers – particularly among Democrats – that passage of the Taylor Force Act would destabilize the PA. If the PA insisted on continuing to fund jihadists and their families after the US cut funding, as PA President Mahmoud Abbas vowed it would, good projects that benefit Palestinian society might be terminated. The PA might not be able to properly provide water, electricity and health services if it were to lose a full $300 million from its annual budget.
Democrats got on board after they were assured that US funds allocated to security cooperation and humanitarian relief would not be conditional upon the PA’s change in policy vis-a-vis the jihadists and their families.
No one wants to see the PA collapse. It would result in anarchy and force Israel to resume direct responsibility for well over a million Palestinians living in the West Bank.
At the same time, the Palestinians must choose. Do they want to live under a regime that actively supports terrorism against innocent civilians and glorifies acts of violence? As long as Palestinian political culture prioritizes violence against Israelis above nation-building and economic development for Palestinians, there will be no peace.
Perhaps passage of the Taylor Force Act will convince the Palestinian people to change their political leaders.
Large percentages of Palestinian society strongly oppose the PA’s security coordination with Israel and view it as a cynical arrangement that perpetuates a kleptocratic Palestinian leadership built on nepotism.
The solution is not to end cooperation with Israel, rather it is to choose a leadership that will use its powers to benefit Palestinians, not perpetuate an endless cycle of violence against Israel.
We praise the US for its moral clarity and for taking a principled stand against the PA’s intolerable conduct.
The Taylor Force Act has the potential for creating an atmosphere more conducive to peace by urging the Palestinians to reject their self-destructive political culture.
At the very least, it is a necessary reaction to evil and a testament to Force’s beloved memory.