Letters – September 27, 2018
End To Palestinian Aid Is Short-Sighted
Thank you for publishing Neri Zilber’s thoughtful commentary, “Why Are Some Israelis Worried About Cuts to Palestinian Aid?” (Sept. 13, 2018). The author presents a very measured, objective analysis of why the Trump administration’s current policy is causing great concern among many Israeli security officials who understand that when basic public services (food, education, medical care) are disrupted, it tends to lead to chaos and violence.
Between the time the article was written and its date of publication in the Detroit Jewish News, the Trump administration took even more steps (in the words of Michael J. Koplow of the Israel Policy Forum) “to bludgeon the Palestinians into submission” by announcing its intention to cut $25 million in U.S. aid to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network and by shutting down the PLO’s diplomatic mission in the United States.
As Koplow points out in his Sept. 13 blogpost (“The Spoils of Victory Over the Palestinians”), the hospitals that will be affected by the U.S. pulling its funding “are not administered by the P.A., the U.N., Hamas or any other actor that the Trump administration deems objectionable. They are not even located in Palestinian-administered territory, but are all in East Jerusalem, which is formally annexed to Israel. In fact, they are licensed and inspected by Israel’s Health Ministry, so they are completely under Israeli jurisdiction. They are doing nothing nefarious and have never been accused of abetting corruption or aiding terror. All they do is provide badly needed and highly specialized medical treatments to people who cannot otherwise get them.”
The administration’s unilateral decision to pull U.S. funding from these six East Jerusalem hospitals also is a direct violation of the expressed will of Congress, as Koplow explains:
“What makes ending aid to these hospitals particularly duplicitous is that until recently, the Trump administration and its Congressional allies held up the East Jerusalem Hospital Network as a shining example of the type of institutions that should be supported … When Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, subjecting all American aid to the West Bank and Gaza to be eliminated if it directly benefited the Palestinian Authority in any way, it specifically exempted the aid appropriated to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing in July 2017 on the Taylor Force legislation before it was passed, Elliott Abrams — as staunch a pro-Israel Republican foreign policy mandarin as exists — testified that the hospitals should not be subject to any aid cuts and referred to Augusta Victoria Hospital as a “renowned and venerable institution.”
I concur in Koplow’s conclusion that the decision to end U.S. funding to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network is a “heartlessly inhumane action” that’s not about victory and peace but is rather “nothing more than cruelty for cruelty’s sake.”
Nancy F. Kaplan
Candidates Need To Explain Changing Views
As a proud Zionist, I found the recent statements, reported in the JN and elsewhere, on BDS by candidate Gretchen Whitmer and the tweets from her running mate Garlin Gilchrist on Israel and Hamas very disturbing, as Hamas/BDS’ goal is the destruction of Israel. (Sept. 13, 2018, page 17)
Whitmer refused to condemn the BDS movement when asked at an August town hall. According to the Washington Free Beacon, she ducked the question saying, “I recognize the fundamental rights are that we have the right to speak. No one gets to infringe on those rights on my watch.”
In an Aug. 31 press release, her campaign told the Jewish News that Whitmer co-sponsored legislation while in the state senate against BDS and that she is “100 percent opposed to BDS.” Her intentionally deflecting the earlier August question, though, is telling; and her sudden change of heart questionable as she clearly knew what BDS is about.
Gilchrist in 2009 tweeted several anti-Israel comments. “I am suck (sic) of politicians and Evangelicals kissing Israel’s ass regardless of what they do in the name of ‘defense.’” Followed by “Hamas is a legitimately elected party that only rose to power b/c of Israeli & Western complicity /enablement” and others.
Sociologist Dr. Morris Massey pointed out that it is very difficult to change one’s perspective without having a significant emotional event. If Gilchrist’s views have changed, to be credible, he needs to explain what significant event(s) changed his perspective. In a statement last week, reported in the Jewish News, he said, “… I definitely believe Israel has a right to exist and defend itself…” He did not provide a cause for his changing views and he did not disavow his tweets. What does he think of Evangelical support for Israel today? Was Hamas really only in power due to Israel complicity or maybe it was about the hateful intolerant ideology of Hamas?
Pew Research reported in January of this year that only 27 percent of Democrats say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared with 79 percent of Republicans who favor Israel. Unfortunately, bipartisan support for Israel has significantly diminished. Are Jewish Zionists going to hold our politicians to account?
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Eugene Greenstein, Ph.D.
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