By Larry Gordon
On Tuesday, which was Tishah B’Av, the European Union issued a directive to their member states to cease providing funding or any type of grants to Jewish individuals, organizations, institutions, or companies in the so-called disputed territories of Judea and Samaria.
The Europeans say Judea and Samaria, but the reality is that most of those small and innocuous Jewish settlement communities annoy them but not really that much. They say Judea and Samaria, but what they really mean is Jerusalem. So it is really no wonder that they chose Tishah B’Av to make their announcement. They know more than we would like to give them credit for. They are doing the bidding of the Arabs in those areas, and while the U.S. is not that bold, they are nevertheless watching how this will unfold very closely.
Why do our congressional leaders insist on pouring billions of dollars into the Palestinian coffers with little knowledge or accountability as to what the money is being spent on? That is our hard-earned money, by the way, that is being distributed by our leaders in the nation’s capital and money that they are using to undermine U.S. policy and our allies, in particular Israel.
Next week, in a most timely and propitious manner, a delegation of leaders of the Shomron Regional Council of Judea and Samaria will be in Washington DC on a twofold, three-day mission. The first is to attend the annual convention of CUFI, Christians United For Israel, that features in attendance many hundreds of non-Jewish dedicated supporters of the State of Israel and in particular the settler movement in the territories. CUFI, which is led by Texas Pastor John Hagee, touts a membership of over one million.
“As part of the work of the Shomron Liaison Office,” says Shomron Council spokesman David Ha’ivri, “we are proactively reaching out to lawmakers and decision makers in influential countries around the world. We made some very significant inroads at the European Union Parliament in Brussels last year and now we are working on upgrading our contact on Capitol Hill.”
The meeting comes at a pivotal time for the Shomron group as the European Union announced this week that as of Friday, July 19, member states will not be allowed to do business or facilitate the awarding of grants or funding of any kind to Jews or Jewish institutions beyond what is commonly referred to as the Green Line. On the surface it seems like a purely anti-Semitic dictate that is reminiscent of some of those old days which Europe should really not be too proud of. But there is also a practical side to the issue that perhaps placates Palestinian leaders looking to undermine Israel, but at the same time causes damage to the Palestinian people thereby maintaining their desperation and dependency on unelected and corrupt leaders.
Ha’ivri explains, “The EU decision to boycott products manufactured in Judea and Samaria is not helpful towards advancing peace in the region. The Barkan industrial park in Shomron is base for over 140 factories that provide work places and Israeli work benefits to some 6,500 local workers. Jews and Arabs together work in a friendly atmosphere and are able to provide for their families with dignity. The first to suffer from European efforts to sabotage this platform of coexistence will be the Arab workers who would lose their jobs if the factories are forced to move out of Shomron. Without means to provide an income, they will have no choice but to turn to the Hamas for handouts. No need to elaborate where that path will lead. Those who campaign to boycott products from this region are simply ignorant of the realities on the ground, or worse, they just don’t care.”
This latest move promises to be a front and center issue at next week’s CUFI Summit in Washington, as the Obama administration has also expressed discomfort with the Jewish population growth in Judea and Samaria. Perhaps unlike the Europeans, there is great and important support for Israel’s current policies on Capitol Hill, and the CUFI Summit next week plans to emphasize and publicize the reality of American support for Jews and Israel.
To that end, the Shomron Council has set up a series of meetings with Congressmen and Senators in DC. Some have been so bold as to tour the Shomron, while those identified with the current administration fear that crossing the green line will be interpreted as legitimizing the Jewish presence there and incur the wrath of the Arab allies of the United States.
When it comes to Israel and the concepts of freedom, peace, and democracy, there are distorted rules and a double standard that is strictly applied in many instances both by the U.S. and Europe. The Shomron group led by Governor Gershon Mesika plans to begin a campaign that wears away at this unbalanced and backward way of looking at the reality and the facts on the ground in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem.
The visit to Washington next week—that I hope to be joining—will address three major issues with members of Congress. The first is that lack of accountability for the money that is poured into the always broke and on the verge of economic collapse Palestinian National Authority. Since 2009, the U.S. has transferred more than $650 million a year with the accounting and bookkeeping on how the money is expended being done strictly by the Palestinians. The delegation will urge the officials they meet to push for independent audits on how the PNA spends the money they are awarded.
The second issue deals with the fact that the PNA currently pays full salaries to anyone from within their ranks who is imprisoned in Israel for committing any offense associated with terror attacks or killing Jews. According to Israel’s Palestine Media Watch, over 4,900 prisoners are receiving monthly salaries from the PNA. Those imprisoned for theft do not receive a salary. To become eligible for this type of financial support, one needs to have been involved in a terror attack or in the killing or injuring of Jews. Both the U.S. and Europe that have spent billions keeping the PNA artificially inflated look the other way at this twisted and damaging way of doing things.
Finally, there will be the push to get America to recognize that Judea and Samaria are integral parts of the State of Israel and that the idea of withdrawing from the territories so as to make way for a Palestinian state is the stuff dreams or perhaps nightmares are made of. There are currently 750,000 Jews residing in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem. The Kerry shuttle currently under way as the rest of the Arab world is on the verge of chaos and collapse is the stuff that wild foreign policy fantasies are made of.
Israel has some very good friends in Washington, but Israel’s best friends on Capitol Hill are those who are not afraid to say that Israel in all its biblical and G‑d-given territory are to remain whole with an undivided Jerusalem as its centerpiece. Amongst those very good friends are Republican representatives Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Randy Forbes of Virginia, and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Many other congressional representatives will be interacting with the Shomron delegation at the CUFI summit through the week. Amongst those attending the conference will be talk-show personality Glenn Beck and former governor Mike Huckabee.
Meetings like these are vital in helping buttress the image of Israel here in the U.S. and go a long way toward solidifying the U.S.–Israel relationship at the all-important level of its citizenry. An administration like Mr. Obama’s does not consider how vast the support of Israel is when seeking to formulate policy by pressuring Israel to make concessions to an implacable enemy.
With all that is happening in the Middle East, these meetings and get-togethers, summits, and conferences have never been more meaningful or important. v
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