Twenty-nine-year-old US Army veteran Captain Taylor Allen Force had served his country in Iran and Afghanistan, but he did not die in battle.
The Lubbock, Texas native and West Point graduate was ironically murdered when he was unarmed, walking on a beach promenade while on a Vanderbilt University graduate school trip abroad in March 2016.
The site of his murder was in Jaffa, Israel, but it could have happened in London, Paris, or Texas. In the past, Jihadist terror primarily targeted Jews in Israel, but now it hits anywhere and anyone, terrorizing innocent civilians around the world.
There is no better symbol for the war on terror than Taylor Force. He fought bravely for America in his life, fell victim to terror in his death, and now serves as the inspiration for efforts to defeat terror as his name lives on.
There are many ways to fight terror. Most of them involve proactive and reactive offensive and defensive steps taken by militaries, law enforcement authorities, and intelligence agencies. But there are also steps that can be taken by our lawmakers.
The Taylor Force Act, sponsored by Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker and co-sponsored by top Democrats, would require the Palestinian Authority to stop compensating convicted terrorists and their families or face a freeze in aid from the United States.
The bill would demand that the PA end its “pay for slay” policy that resulted in Force’s murderer’s family receiving a hefty monthly stipend like other families of terrorists.
The PA distributed some $300 million to the families of terrorists in 2016, coincidentally the same sum the US annually provides the PA.
“Taylor was an American hero who was brutally murdered at the hands of terrorists,” Graham said. “Yet instead of condemning this horrific attack – and so many others like it – the PA rewards terrorists. These rewards for terrorist attacks are inconsistent with American values. They are inconsistent with decency. And they are certainly inconsistent with peace. Simply put, you can’t be a partner in peace when you are paying people to commit acts of terror. It is long past time to let the PA know that these practices are wholly unacceptable.”
Much like sanctions on Iran that harmed its economy and removing Iran from the international banking system caused the Islamic Republic to make concessions, a financial game plan can be successful with the Palestinians. Terrorist organizations cannot succeed without financial support, so they must be isolated financially.
The bill has been advancing in the Senate and the House of Representatives, thanks to its broad, bipartisan support and the backing and moral clarity of U.S. president Donald Trump. The support from both sides of the aisle cannot be taken for granted nowadays and proves that there is a consensus in America on there being zero tolerance for terror.
A similar bill has been proposed in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. There, too, it enjoys the support of the entire political spectrum, which in the Jewish state is also no easy feat.
But the bills in both countries have faced roadblocks. In the US, some Democratic leaders have insisted on watering down the bill and granting the PA too long a time to stop funding terror. There is an effort to add to the bill a sunset clause that could allow the PA to return to funding terrorists.
It is possible that if and when an American Middle East peace plan is announced, the bill will be shelved. This would be a tragic mistake, because as it has been said, terror must be fought without regard to diplomatic efforts.
In Israel, the bill has run into games of bureaucracy and political credit. It was proposed by MK Elazar Stern of the Yesh Atid party.
Stern, who supports sweeping legislation on matters of religion and state, is an anathema to most Orthodox MKs. For the bill to move forward, it needs the support of the Defense Ministry, led by Defense Minister and Yisrael Beytenu party head Avigdor Liberman.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee head Avi Dichter of Likud complained that the Defense Ministry is stalling the bill, while meanwhile Israel continues to give the PA 1.2 billion shekels from tax and tariff revenues Israel collects for the PA every year.
A terror victim organization has started a campaign against Liberman. Dichter pointed a finger at the Defense Ministry representative who testified to his committee.
“Five months have passed, and the cabinet ministries still haven’t presented my committee with legislation that would freeze the funds the PA pays to terrorists,” Dichter said. “We see a fire approaching, we have a supertanker that could put it out, and you are telling us to wait.”
Dichter’s statement should apply both in Israel and the U.S. It should be common sense that terror cannot be tolerated. How can the U.S. keep on giving so much money to terrorists when it is fighting terror?
After the U.S. helped defeat the Islamic State, the war on terror continues. In the spirit of Taylor Force, now is the time for the U.S. to win.