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American Taxes Pay for Slay, Temple Mount Pilgrimage, Wonder Women


PA Payments to Prisoners, ‘Martyr’ Families Now Equal Half its Foreign Aid

Dov Lieber, Times of Israel, July 31st 2017

Recap:

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) 2017 budget for payments to inmates in Israeli prisons and “families of martyrs” is equal to half of the foreign aid it expects to receive this year.

The Context:

  • The PA Finance Ministry’s 2017 budget allocates $153.4 million to incarcerated and released Palestinian prisoners with an additional $190.8 million for payments to family members of those “killed or wounded in the struggle against Zionism.” The PA expects to receive close to $700 million in foreign aid this year.

  • Western donors, including the United States, have measures in place to ensure their aid money is used to pay PA debts, teachers’ salaries and medical bills however both the US and Israel are weighing legislation to strip the PA of funding if it doesn’t cease its “pay for slay” programs. The US bill, known as the Taylor Force Act, is named after a former US army officer who was killed last year by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv. Of the PA’s $4.362 billion budget in 2016, approximately $500 million came from the United States [1]. The Israeli bill would cut around $285 million from annual tax revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the PA.

  • PA Foreign Affairs adviser Nabil Shaath argued that “payments to support families are a social responsibility,” and the Pro Palestinian camp points to reduced compensation to 277 Hamas-affiliated former prisoners as a sign of improved oversight of foreign funds [2].

  • The 19-year old Palestinian who murdered three Israelis at a Shabbat meal last month will earn $37,440 annually as long as he lives, 10 times that of an average Palestinian [3]. In 2014, the average American took home $44,568 [4].

Conversation Points:

  • Does Western funding intended for humanitarian use simply free up Palestinian money to be used for illicit purposes?

  • What would the future hold for Palestinians if the PA used 10% of its budget, money currently earmarked for terror compensation, on tech or energy development?

  • Is a reduction in PA funding to Hamas-affiliated terrorists a sign of improved oversight of foreign funds or simply political tit-for-tat?

  • Will a reduction in Western and Israeli aid have an adverse effect and further ferment extremism?

Record Numbers of Jews Visit the Temple Mount Tisha B'Av Morning

Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, August 1st 2017

Recap:

More than 1,200 Jews visited the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av. The previous record was 995 this past Jerusalem Day.

The Context:

  • According to Yeraeh, an organization that supports Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, recent tensions and the capitulation by the Israeli government over metal detectors at the site has generated massive Jewish interest. Asaf Fried, an activist seeking Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, believes that “the government’s behavior last week was humiliating and degrading.”

  • The large turn out occurred on Tisha B'Av, a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temple, as well as several other disasters in Jewish history [5]. Six Jewish visitors were removed from the Temple Mount for attempting to pray or bow down. Non-Muslim prayer is strictly forbidden on the Temple Mount by the Islamic Wakf, which administers the site.

  • Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi admonished the “the number of extremists who stormed Al-Aqsa today,” while forewarning further Arab unrest [6]. Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef also criticized the group saying, “ascending the Temple Mount is forbidden by Jewish law, and those Jews who ascend to the Temple Mount desecrate its sanctity [7].”

  • Jewish visitors entered through the Mughrabi Gate and were obligated to pass through metal detectors prior to making their way to the Temple Mount [8].

Conversation Points:

  • World media was irate when Palestinians were forced to pass through metal detectors before ascending to the Temple Mount yet silent when Jews were forced to do the same. What explains this double standard?

  • Why isn’t the United Nations outraged that Jews are forbidden to worship at their holiest site?

Border Police Experiences Largest Female Enlistment on Record

Meir Turgeman, Ynet News, July 28th 2017

Recap:

Female enlistment to the Border Police is rising following the deaths of two female officers who fell in the line of duty.

The Context:

  • Female Border Police officer Hadar Cohen lost her life in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem last year. Hadas Malka lost her life following a terrorist attack in June.

  • The new all-female unit was established in response to the unprecedented 252 female soldiers who enlisted to the Israel Border Patrol earlier this month. "I always wanted to be in the Border Guard, and after Hadas' murder, the decision was bolstered: to protect my city, my home," said Jerusalem recruit Liora Diachenko.

  • An estimated 90% of IDF positions are now open to women, including combat roles in the Navy, Home Front Command, Artillery Corps and Military Police in the West Bank, however, women account for only 7% of front line troops. 2,500 women are expected to serve in combat roles this year, up from 500 four years ago [9].

  • Last month, Lieutenant Colonel Reut Retig Weiss became the battalion commander of the IDF’s drone unit. She is the second Israeli woman to be appointed commander of a combat unit [10].

Conversation Points:

  • If there never were restrictions on female inclusion in combat roles, would the male to female ratio be more equal today?

Notes:

  1. Mahmoud’s Murderous Math, Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, July 25th 2017

  2. Israel frets over Congress push to slash Palestinian aid over terror payments, Bryant Harris, AI Monitor, July 14th 2017

  3. Half of all foreign aid to PA used to fund terrorism, Israel National News, July 31st 2017

  4. Mahmoud’s Murderous Math, Liel Leibovitz, Tablet, July 25th 2017

  5. More Than One Thousand Jews Visit Temple Mount on Tisha B'Av, Setting New Record, Nir Hasson, Haaretz, August 1st 2017

  6. As record number of Jews visit Temple Mount, Jordan warns of more crises, Times of Israel, August 1st 2017

  7. Ibid.

  8. Record Number of Jews Ascend Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, The Algemeiner, August 1st 2017

  9. FEMALE OFFICER TAKES COMMAND OF IDF ARTILLERY CORPS' DRONE UNIT, Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, July 10th 2017

  10. Ibid.


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