Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein, ZOA Chairman Mark Levenson, Esq. and ZOA Director of Special Projects Elizabeth Berney, Esq. released the following statement:
The basis of the Arab-Islamic war against Israel and the Jews is opposition to Israel’s existence – not economics. The Arabs turned down previous peace offers where they were offered huge sums of money. Thus, an economics plan will not help.
President Trump has repeatedly displayed great friendship to Israel and the Jewish people, and has taken numerous positive pro-Israel pro-peace steps: Pres. Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s eternal capital Jerusalem; merged the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem into the U.S. Embassy; recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; left the Israel-bashing UN Human Rights Council; closed the PLO/PA office in Washington; stopped funding to the terror-supporting Palestinian Authority (PA) and UNRWA; withdrew from the catastrophic Iran deal; made numerous strong statements against antisemitism, neo-Nazism and white supremacy (listed in ZOA Pres. Klein’s testimony, at pp. 20-24); and demanded that the Palestinian Authority (PA) must end the PA’s incitement of terror and heinous “pay to slay” payments to terrorists to murder Jews and Americans.
In light of all this, the ZOA has tried to keep an open mind about the administration’s peace plan, especially while it was in gestation. There moreover may be no need to object to any plan provisions, because the Palestinian Authority rejected the administration’s plan outright.
However, the just-published “Peace to Prosperity” $50 billion economic portion of the administration’s peace plan raises numerous concerns – and avoids the real problem of the hateful Palestinian-Arab culture of incitement to terror.
This economic development plan does not deal with the real reason there is no peace – which is that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are dedicated to Israel’s destruction. The “Peace to Prosperity” plan claims that it is analogous to the Marshall Plan (Plan at p. 8). However, the U.S. did not provide a Marshall Plan to Europe or Germany while the Nazis were still in power and dedicated to killing Jews and gays and gypsies and oppressing other people. The Marshall Plan began only after the Nazis and their ideology were completely defeated and removed from power.
The PA and Hamas continue to incite hatred of Jews and Christians and Israelis; pay terrorists to murder Jews and Americans; teach school children to “martyr” themselves to murder Jews; and employ their media, public square-naming, television specials, government-controlled mosques and all other means of communication to idolize terrorists who murder Jews, and to incite more terror. It is a culture of hatred. To attain real peace, the first step must be overhauling the PA textbooks and all other mechanisms used to preach and teach hatred against Israel. If this does not occur, nothing else will bring about peace. Instead, economic investments will exacerbate the PA’s and Hamas’s and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)’s ability to carry out their hateful, destructive murderous goals. The plan also creates additional security risks. For instance:
- The “Peace to Prosperity” plan to build a highway and/or rail corridor from Gaza to the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), and other transportation infrastructure, at a cost of over $5.562 billion (See plan p. 27) and $6.562 billion in total “transportation and mobility costs” (Plan p. 11), creates a massive security risk, cuts Israel in two and usurps and displaces Israeli-owned land, home and farms. Such a corridor would enable Hamas terrorists, other terror operatives and their weapons to spread death and destruction.
- Similar aspects of the plan, such as the $50 million to “build the capacity of the Palestinian public sector to manage crossing points, inspect goods, and facilitate trade” (Plan p. 19) carry similar risks. The “Palestinian public sector” is dominated by terror groups – and is not likely to to “manage crossing points” to keep out terrorists and arms. Israel cannot afford to return to the days of the Second Intifada (2000-2005) – when the lack of a security barrier, checkpoints and Israeli security control enabled Palestinian terrorists to murder and maim 10,000 innocent Israelis.
- Decades of experience demonstrate that more money, investments and economic prosperity will not ensure peaceful co-existence with the PA and Hamas-run Gaza. Economic power in the wrong hands means more terror. As of May 2018, the U.S. gave $5 billion of aid to the Palestinian Authority, plus another $6 billion to Palestinian-Arabs through UNRWA (Congressional Research Service report). Yet, the PA and Hamas have continued all their efforts to destroy Israel and attack innocent Israelis, including the PA’s over $400 million per year of “pay to slay” payments. Hamas rockets continue to murder, maim and terrify Israelis. Since March 2018, Hamas (from Gaza) has murdered 7 innocent Israelis; wounded 282 innocent Israelis; lobbed 1,932 rockets/mortar bombs, 841 petrol bombs and 128 IEDs at Israel; perpetrated 25 shootings; ignited 2,000 fires with arson kites/balloons; and damaged 8,648 acres of Israeli land. In addition, in the wave of terror that began in 2015, PA-incited terrorists have murdered 82 innocent Israelis and maimed 1,282 innocent Israelis.
- Past infrastructure have not fared well. The 300 Jewish advanced greenhouses in Gaza, which were growing and exporting to Europe more than $100 million of produce per year, were purchased by American philanthropists for $14 million and gifted to the Palestinian-Arabs in 2005. Arab looters and terrorists immediately destroyed these valuable greenhouses. Recently, Gazan terrorists and rioters repeatedly set fire to gas pipes, electricity infrastructure, and a conveyor belt used to transfer fuel and goods from Israel into Gaza, causing millions of dollars of damage. Hamas diverted electricity, concrete and other building materials intended for Gaza’s reconstruction to instead build dozens of sophisticated terror tunnels, at a cost of over $120 million – mostly received from foreign donors. And, the PA reported that Hamas steals medicine sent into Gaza.
- The huge wealth of leading Palestinian Authority, Hamas and al-Qaeda terrorists and terror groups also demonstrates that money and investments are not the answer. The wealth of these virulent leaders shows that money does not transform someone into a lover of peace, who is willing to live peacefully with Israelis and Jews. It shows that the lack of peace is all about the Palestinian-Arabs’ and other terrorists’ hateful ideology and Koranic religious teachings to hate Jews and Christians. For instance:
- The founder of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, Osama bin Laden, was a privileged scion of one of the wealthiest multi-billionaire families in Saudi Arabia.
- Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman/arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat had a $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion fortune, including investments in hotels and other businesses in various countries, at the time of his death, according to Al Jazeera.
- PA dictator and terror-inciter Mahmoud Abbas bought a $50 million luxury airplane for his private use last year. (Israeli PM Netanyahu does not have a private plane.)
- Mahmoud Abbas and his sons also have a business empire with an estimated worth of at least $100 million, including insurance companies, construction, and general investments, plus $600 million of hidden assets.
- As of 2014, there were 600 millionaires in Gaza. Mid-level Hamas operatives have homes worth over a million dollars.
- Hamas senior official Moussa Abu Marzouk (who was involved in transferring funds to al-Qaeda operatives involved in 9/11, and has vowed to keep attacking Israel) has an estimated net worth of $2 billion to $3 billion.
- Hamas leader and terror-tycoon Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas’s “political” wing, has an estimated net worth of $2 billion to $5 billion, invested in Egyptian banks, Gulf countries, and real estate projects.
- Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has a fortune estimated at $4 billion, part of it registered in the name of his son-in-law and his 13 children, each of whom has a home worth over $1 million. Haniyeh also owns interests in apartment buildings throughout Gaza, vacation homes, an electric appliance firm, a jewelry shop, a cement plant and a rock-grinding factory.
- Forbes noted that the Hamas terror group itself had a $1 billion net worth in 2014 – making it the second-richest terror group in the world – and that other Middle-East terror groups have significant assets. And this was prior to recent Iran’s influx of Iran-deal funds and recent funding from Qatar.
- The envisioned educational investments, totaling $1.895 billion (Plan p. 11), are also likely to be counterproductive. The “Peace to Prosperity” plan calls for $120 million of STEM (science, technical, engineering and mathematics) education and workforce development (Plan pp. 60-61); another $300 million for technical and other training programs (Plan pp. 62-64, 68); $400 million for international scholarships (Plan pp. 22 & 57); $500 million for a new Palestinian university (Plan p. 22); and $700 millions for related educational items (Plan p. 22); among other items. But what use will Palestinian-Arab students make of their STEM and international and university education? The culture of hatred towards Jews, Christians, Israel and the west must be changed first if we don’t want STEM and international and university education to backfire, as it has done up until now. For instance:
- A study by two European social scientists found that an astonishing 45% of the 200 leading Islamic terrorists in the 21st century (both those operating in the Middle East and those targeting the west) had engineering degrees. That was 14 times more than would result from an ordinary distribution of degrees. Many engineers hold Islamic terrorist leadership positions – not merely technical positions. (See “Why Do So Many Jihadis Have Engineering Degrees?,” McClean’s, Feb. 29, 2016.)
- Another study found that among university-educated jihadis who were responsible for the five most serious terrorist incidents between 1993 and 2005, the most popular subjects of study were engineering, followed by medicine.
- Hamas co-founder Abdel Aziz Rantisi – who dedicated his life to destroying Israel, and was responsible for the death of hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks – was a physician/pediatrician. Italian journalist Giulio Meotti explained: “Hamas’ leader Abdul Aziz Rantisi, a senior manager of the Arab Medical Society [was] known for his tireless campaign to “kill as many Jews as possible.” Doctor Rantisi ordered that pieces of metal should be added to the explosives in the terrorist’s vest or backpack, with blasts often severing limbs completely. Israeli children have had their faces burned or their hands rendered useless; some have had their sight ruined forever.”
- George Habash, the founder of designated terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – responsible for airline hijackings and numerous deadly terror attacks on innocent Jews – was another physician. So was the PFLP’s head of special operations, Wadi Haddad.
- Fathi Shaqaqi, the late founder of Islamic Jihad, was yet another physician, as is Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar. Guilio Meotti recounted: “These two doctors are responsible for scores of [Jewish] children, women and elderly who were incinerated on Egged buses in Israel; cafes and pizzerias destroyed; malls turned into slaughterhouses; mothers and daughters killed in front of ice cream shops; families exterminated in their own beds; infants executed with a blow to the base of the skull; fruit markets blown to pieces; nightclubs eviscerated along with hundreds of students; rabbinic seminarians murdered during their studies; husbands and wives killed in front of their children; children murdered in their mothers’ arms.”
- Hamas chief bomb-maker and a leader of Hamas’ Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Yahya Ayyash, nicknamed “the Engineer” – who built bombs that Hamas and PIJ used to blow up Israeli buses and public sites, massacring numerous innocent Israeli civilians – had an electrical engineering degree from Bir Zeit University.
- Hamas commander Fadi al-Batsh – another engineer – worked on Hamas’s drone warfare project to attack Israel, and negotiated the purchase of North Korean components for Hamas rockets’ guidance systems, to enable Hamas to kill more Israeli civilians.
- Hamas tech experts have been using their technical training to create phony sports apps and dating apps to target Israeli soldiers.
- Guilio Meotti also explained: “Palestinian terrorism is led by academics, surgeons, scientists, scholars, intellectuals, people with an enviable curriculum vitae. . . . The Hamas leadership is the most educated in the Arab world with 500 high level degrees between them.” Gaza’s Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, was dean of a university. [H]is strong man for the Religious Affairs, Mohamed Tartouri, is a dean of the College of Sharia in Hevron, epicenter of jihad against the Jews. Even among the Palestinian-Arab “secular” terrorists you find many PHDs. Ahmed Saadat, who ordered the killing of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze’evi, is a professor, while terror mastermind George Habash was a doctor. . . . A talented mathematician is Siyaam Saeed, Minister of the Interior. A former education minister, Nasser Eddin to Sha’er, studied in Manchester and New York. Ibrahim Hamed, the planner of brutal attacks such as Moment Café, the Ben Yehuda Street and the Hebrew University murders, has a BA magna cum laude”.
“Baseem Naeem became a surgeon in Germany, Atif Adwan owes its formation to the most brilliant scientific universities in the United Kingdom, while Aziz Dweik learnt a perfect English at the University of Pennsylvania.”
Mousa Marzook, accused by Israel to be involved in the murder of 47 Israeli civilians between 1990 and 1994, studied at Louisiana Tech and Columbia University.”
“Of the Palestinian suicide bombers, 47 percent had a college degree, 29 percent a high school diploma, and 24 percent attended primary school. People like Dia Tawil, who came from a “bourgeois” family with no financial problems, “only” dreamt of killing Israelis. Tawil’s last words were: “Their bones will know the taste of death.”
(See “Exposé: All those Hamas Ph.D.’s: Meet your friendly Hamas terrorist. He may be a Ph.D., an engineer, a college professor or dean – but he is a cold-blooded barbarian out to kill Jews,” by Guilio Meiotti, Israel Nat’l News, Nov. 15, 2012.
- The “Peace to Prosperity” $500 million for a new Palestinian University (Plan p. 22) is both not needed and unwise. Birzeit University – the premier existing Palestinian-Arab university, with 14,000 students, is a hotbed of terrorism and radicalism. Hamas won the student elections at Birzeit University for the past four years in a row. Most of the rest of the votes went to the equally radical “Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc.” Birzeit professors and students promote “armed resistance” and terrorism against Israelis. Terror recruitment, including Hamas propaganda posters and materials, dominates Palestinian academe. Birzeit’s Hamas student candidates reenacted suicide bombings by blowing up models of Israeli buses. In a student elections debate, a Hamas candidate boasted: “Hamas activists in this University killed 135 Zionists. How many did Fatah activists from Bir Zeit kill?”
Other West Bank and Gazan Palestinian-Arab universities – Al Quds University, University of Gaza, and An-Najah National University – are equally horrendous or worse. (See “Terror Threats on Palestinian Campuses,” by A. J. Caschetta, The Tower, Feb. 5, 2019.) We don’t need another such radical terrorist-recruiting “Palestinian” university!
- Peaceful co-existence could be advanced by instead contributing to Ariel University in Samaria, where both Jewish students and 1,000 Israeli-Arab students (comprising 20% of the student body) find a welcoming, peaceful academic environment, and feel at home.
- The $300 million of international scholarships and internships in the “Peace to Prosperity” plan will also likely bring more antisemitic anti-Israel agitators to U.S. and European college campuses and communities. Jewish and pro-Israel students are already under severe attack from “Palestinian”-Arab students and their allies, who scream for intifadas and the expulsion of Jewish students, and have even attacked Jewish students physically. We don’t need more of these torments.
- The $230 million of arts and culture funding (Plan p. 72) is another counterproductive expenditure. Palestinian-Arab arts are used to spew propaganda and hatred of Jews and Israel. Palestinian-Arab artists also demand that international artists should boycott Israel. For instance, Palestinian-Arab women artists demanded that Madonna should not perform in Israel. Palestinian officials shut down a Palestinian-Arab youth orchestra because it performed before Holocaust survivors at a concert in Israel. Palestinian-Arab national “poet of the resistance” Mahmoud Darwish was infamous for writing poems to help incite the deadly intifadas, in which thousands of Israelis were maimed and murdered, and for demanding the expulsion of Jews from the Jewish State. “Palestinian” films consist of non-stop anti-Israel lies and propaganda.
- Another concerning expenditure in the “Peace to Prosperity” plan is $60 million to “Enhance court capacity to quickly and effectively resolve property disputes and contested-ownership claims.” (Plan p. 19.) What does this mean? What lands will this apply to? Are “Palestinian courts” going to be empowered to resolve the claims of Palestinian-Arabs for Jewish-owned lands? And how can such a court possibly be fair when selling land to a Jew is punishable by death, under PA law?
- Power generation expenditures of 2.539 billion (Plan p. 11) and items such as providing power generators for Gazan hospitals is another expenditure that sounds good, until one considers the facts that Hamas siphons off massive amounts of power in Gaza for terror tunnels, and terror infrastructure and activities, and that Hamas’s headquarters and main command bunkers are under Al-Shifa hospital.
- We also wonder, which sites will be included within the $400 million budget for promoting, repairing, restoring and upgrading “cultural, historical and religious sites” (Plan p. 39)? Palestinian-Arabs destroyed or bulldozed important Jewish and Christian religious sites and artifacts, including Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem, and the remains of a Byzantine Church in Gaza City. Are these going to be rebuilt? And if so, how will Jews and Christians safely visit them?
- The contemplated $6.325 billion investment in Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon (Plan p. 50) is also deeply concerning. Hezbollah has 150,000 missiles in Lebanon, pointed at Israel. Investing in road corridors, airports, railroads and other infrastructure projects in Lebanon will likely enhance Hezbollah’s military capabilities.
Thus, first and foremost, we need a plan for completely transforming the violent Palestinian-Arab culture, leadership and education. Without that, the investments envisioned by the “Peace to Prosperity” plan will only make Israel’s neighborhood even more dangerous than it is today.