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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘cut’

Three Republicans Introduce Bill to Cut Funds to PA over Pay to Terrorist Murderers

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Taylor Force, 28, was a former US Army Officer and a student at Vanderbilt University, who was stabbed to death by an Arab from the Palestinian Authority in Jaffa, Israel last March 8. On Wednesday, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dan Coats (R-In), and Roy Blunt (R-Ms) introduced the Taylor Force Act, aimed at cutting funding for the Palestinian Authority if it continues to incite and reward acts of terrorism.

The new bill

• Requires the Secretary of State to certify to Congress the Palestinian Authority is taking credible steps to end acts of violence against United States and Israeli citizens that are perpetrated by individuals under its jurisdictional control, such as the attack on Taylor Force;

• Calls on the Palestinian Authority to publicly condemn such acts of violence and is taking steps to investigate and cooperate in investigations bringing perpetrators to justice; and

• Terminates payments for acts of terrorism against United States and Israeli citizens to any individual who has been imprisoned after being convicted of terrorist acts, to any individual who died committing a terrorist act, or to family members of such individuals.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Sen. Graham said, “To pursue peace, you have to reject killing. … This bill is not a result of animosity towards the Palestinian people. It’s pushback against state-sponsored terrorism.”

“This legislation shines a light on a very real problem,” Graham said, asking, “Why is the Palestinian Authority paying young Palestinians to commit acts of terror against innocent Americans like Taylor Force or Israelis? The Palestinians need to decide – do they condemn these horrible acts or do they reward them? You can’t be a partner in peace when you are paying people to commit terrorist acts. The choice the Palestinians make will determine the type of relationship they have with the United States in the years to come.”

Senator Coats said, “To provide American taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority so that it can treat terrorists as heroes or glorious martyrs is morally unacceptable. Our hope is that applying this budgetary pressure will end this immoral program of rewarding and encouraging terrorists.”

Senator Blunt said, “Israel is one of our closest allies and a stalwart of democracy in the Middle East. It would be absolutely unconscionable to allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to be used by the Palestinian Authority to reward convicted terrorists for acts of violence against Israel. I urge all of my colleagues to back this effort to hold the Palestinian Authority accountable.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) voiced his opinion about the proposed legislation: “I’ve repeatedly demanded that President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority work to prevent Palestinian terrorist attacks and end all government-sponsored incitement of violence. It’s unacceptable that our taxpayer dollars are still being used by the Palestinian Authority to pay terrorists who have Israeli and American blood on their hands, and to brainwash young Palestinians with hatred for the Jewish people. The U.S. should condition assistance to the Palestinian Authority on it stopping these despicable practices.”

Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) said, “The United States should hold Palestinian leadership fully accountable for continuing to incite violence against Israeli and American citizens and provide financial support to terrorists and their families. This is a no-brainer that’s critical to encouraging the emergence of a credible partner for peace with Israel, a fellow democracy and our closest ally in the Middle East, yet this Administration refuses to do it.”

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) said, “This bill stands for a simple principle: U.S. taxpayer dollars should never be used to fund terror against our own citizens or our ally Israel. The American people and the Israelis believe in helping the Palestinians build a better and more prosperous society. But that better society will never be possible if Palestinian leaders continue to funnel cash to terrorists and their families. The Obama administration and future administrations should hold Palestinian leadership accountable on this issue and tell them that as long as they continue to fund terror, they should not expect another dollar of U.S. economic assistance.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said, “Earlier this year, Texas native Taylor Force was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv. Taylor’s murder is a grim reminder that the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism targets Americans and Israelis, Christians and Jews, indiscriminately. Our unshakable alliance with Israel will remain our strength as we face this threat together. The legislation introduced today will put the Palestinian Authority on notice that American taxpayers will not continue to fund them unless they take concrete steps to end the abhorrent practice of rewarding terrorists and their families. I’m proud to stand with Senators Graham and Coats as well as my other colleagues in solidarity against not only the terrorists attacking our citizens, but also all who fund and enable them.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement saying, “The American people would be appalled to learn their tax dollars have been subsidizing terrorist attacks on Israel – all the more so because Americans have frequently been the victims of these attacks, and their murderers are the ones benefiting from these U.S. subsidies. By conditioning future U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority on 1) the PA taking credible steps to suppress terrorism in the areas under its control, and 2) the PA ending payments to incarcerated terrorists and the families of dead terrorists, the Taylor Force Act would end this affront to American values.

“The RJC thanks Senator Graham for leading the charge to end this gross abuse of taxpayer dollars. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and we urge all Senators – Republicans, Democrats and Independents, to back this important legislation.”

JNi.Media

INTO THE FRAY: “Mowing the Lawn” Won’t Cut it—

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Israelis have gradually come to realize that at present the Palestinians are neither a partner for comprehensive peace nor capable of establishing a viable state…The Palestinian Authority has no intention of accepting a Jewish state in any borders, and the two sides remain far apart on most of the concrete issues to be resolvedIsrael’s recent governments are left, willy- nilly, with a de facto conflict-management approach, without foreclosing any options. – Prof Efraim Inbar, director of the BESA (Begin-Sadat) Center for Strategic Studies, cited in David Weinberg’s “Israeli West Bank policy – where to?”, Jerusalem Post , August18, 2016.

 

Israel is acting in accordance with a “mowing the grass” strategy. After a period of military restraint, Israel is acting to severely punish Hamas for its aggressive behavior, and degrading its military capabilities… The use of force … is not intended to attain impossible political goals, but rather is a long-term strategy of attrition designed primarily to debilitate the enemy capabilities.– Prof Efraim Inbar and Dr. Eitan Shamir  “Mowing the Grass…” , BESA Perspectives, Paper No. 255 July 20, 2014.

 

Last week, Jerusalem Post columnist David Weinberg published a wide-ranging survey of the views of several senior policy experts at Bar Ilan University’s BESA Center for Strategic Studies regarding Israel’s future “West Bank” policy.  At the outset, allow me to state that, to my mind, BESA is perhaps the most solid strategic policy center associated with a major Israeli university—and the only one that is not doctrinally distinctly Left-of-Center. Moreover, I consider Weinberg, who is also BESA’s director of public affairs, to be one of the most insightful and incisive opinion-writers in the Israeli English-language media.

That said, I have serious disagreements with the bulk of the positions he presents (although, significantly, he refrains from expressing any of his own), and am convinced that, if adopted, they bode ill for Israel’s future.

Conflict management “least-worst option”

The sub-heading of Weinberg’s piece sums up the dominant perspective prevailing among the BESA experts.  It reads: “A consensus of experts: Conflict management is currently the least-worst option.”

Thus, according to Weinberg, the overriding theme that emerges from months of debate in BESA seminar rooms and on its website is that it “is wiser for Israel to defer action than to take steps that threaten to make a bad situation worse.

Thus, for example, Prof Hillel Frisch stipulated five possible Israeli policy approaches: caretaker conflict management, creative friction, constructive chaos, unilateral withdrawal, and unilateral annexation. While conceding none of the options is ideal, Frisch deems the “caretaker conflict management option” to be probably the most feasible, noting that in all cases Israel will have to maintain a significant military presence in Judea and Samaria.

Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror (former national security advisor and today a senior fellow at the center) is also averse to unilateral Israeli initiatives, and is concerned that concessionary initiatives would be likely to “increase, rather than decrease, Palestinian terrorism”; whereas assertive initiatives “may well inflame Palestinian passions and engender severe opposition to Israel abroad.

But perhaps the most explicit and elaborate advocate for the idea of conflict management (rather than conflict resolution), in what appears to be an impossibly deadlocked impasse is Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA’s longstanding director. According to Inbar: “Israelis have gradually come to realize that at present the Palestinians are neither a partner for comprehensive peace nor capable of establishing a viable state…The Palestinian Authority has no intention of accepting a Jewish state in any borders, and the two sides remain far apart on most of the concrete issues to be resolved.” He thus concluded: Israel is left, almost by default, “with a de facto conflict-management approach, without foreclosing any options.

Why ‘mowing the lawn’ won’t cut it 

Inbar has long been a proponent of the conflict management approach.  Indeed, soon after the outbreak of fighting in the summer of 2014 (Operation Protective Edge), he co-authored a BESA paper with Eitan Shamir, entitled “Mowing the Grass in Gaza” July 20, 2014—an approach that entails a new bout of fighting every time the Palestinian violence reaches levels Israel finds unacceptable.

The paper essentially endorses a policy based on resignation to a reality of recurring rounds of violence, separated by intermittent periods of calm, whose length is determined by either the enemy’s willingness to engage, or its desperation, making it impossible not to.

The “rationale” for this approach (as set out in the opening excerpt) is not to inflict decisive defeat and impose surrender of the other side, but to force a cease fire on it, after punishing it for its recalcitrant behavior, and degrading its military capabilities as part of a “long-term strategy of attrition designed primarily to debilitate the enemy capabilities”.

 Regrettably however, there is little evidence that this is succeeding. To the contrary, what we have seen is that far from “debilitating the enemy capabilities,” the said enemy keeps reappearing, spoiling for a fight, ever bolder, with ever-greater capabilities.

Indeed, since Israel unilaterally abandoned the Gaza Strip—and after three bloody military campaigns, which that ill-considered initiative precipitated—the enemy’s capabilities have been enhanced far beyond anything imagined in 2005.

“The ruinous results of restraint”

About the same time that Inbar and Shamir published their “Mowing the Grass” paper, I wrote a column entitled The ruinous results of restraint (July 10, 2014), in which I warned of the fatal flaw in the conflict management oriented “mowing the lawn” approach. I pointed out that:  “…the periods of inter-bellum calm have been consistently used by the Palestinian terror groups to enhance their capabilities…After all, when Israel left Gaza (2005), the range of the Palestinian rockets was barely 5 km., and the explosive charge they carried about 5 kg. Now their missiles have a range of over 100 km. and warheads of around 100 kg. When Israel left Gaza, only the sparse population in its immediate proximity was threatened by missiles. Now well over 5 million Israelis, well beyond Tel Aviv, are menaced by them.”

Moreover, Hamas has exploited periods of calm to further advance and extend its infrastructures and other abilities, which were barely conceivable a decade ago, such as its massive tunneling enterprise and the development of naval forces including commandoes and underwater capabilities.

Indeed, had Hamas accepted Netanyahu’s offer of “calm for calm” at the start of Operation Protective Edge, ceased its fire and continued with the construction of its attack tunnels under the border into Israeli communities, who knows what perils the country would be facing today.

It is an open question just how many more rounds of “mowing” the residents of southern Israel will endure before losing confidence that the government will/can provide them adequate protection, and choose to evacuate the area permanently.

Eroding political realities: Rabin’s 1995-address as benchmark

But it is not only in the exponential growth of the terror groups’ martial prowess that the endeavor at conflict management has been a resounding failure.  The same can be said—arguably even more so–with regard to the looming political threats Israel is facing, particularly as the Obama-term  draws to a close, and the prospect of the US withholding its veto powers to block anti-Israeli measures becomes ever more tangible.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic and disturbing indications of just how far Israeli positions have been eroded over the last two decades is reflected in the views articulated by Yitzhak Rabin, in his last Knesset address (October 5, 1995), a month before his assassination. In it he sought parliamentary ratification of the Oslo II Accords, then considered by much of the Israeli public as excessively dovish and dangerously concessionary.

In this address, significantly delivered after he was  awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and showered with international acclaim as a “valiant warrior for peace,” Rabin:

• rejected the notion of Palestinian statehood (declaring the final Palestinian entity would be “less than a state”);
• robustly rebuffed any possibility of returning to the pre-1967 lines;
• endorsed a united Jerusalem (including its post-67/trans-Green Line suburbia) as Israel’s capital;
• called not only for the inclusion of existing “settlements” within the final frontiers of Israel, but for the construction of additional one “like Gush Katif,”;
• insisted that Israel retain the Jordan Valley border – “in the broadest meaning of that term” – as its permanent security border.

There can be little doubt that if  today, Netanyahu were to embrace, verbatim, Rabin’s prescription for a permanent accord with the Palestinian-Arabs in the “West Bank”  as articulated in his October 1995 address, he would be dismissed—scornfully, disparagingly and angrily—as an “unreasonable extremist.”

Avoiding confrontations that can be won…

There is, of course, some prima facie wisdom in the conflict-management counsel to refrain from hasty measures that are likely to make a bad situation worse. However, such “wisdom” does not have universal validity.  This is glaringly manifest in Israel’s grim predicament.

On the one hand, the country is facing the threat of rapidly escalating military prowess of non-state terror groups, increasingly able to threaten much of the civilian population, crucial infrastructure installations and to paralyze economic activity. On the other hand, the increasingly hostile political realities afford it diminishing ability to deal with these threats effectively.

In this regard, it should be remembered that, today, with the changing nature of Arab enmity, the major existential challenge to Israel’s existence as the Jewish nation-state is no longer repulsing invasion, but resisting attrition.

The Arab stratagem is no longer the cataclysmic annihilation of the Jewish state, but the ongoing erosion of Jewish will to maintain the Jewish state, by making Jewish life in it unbearable – both physically and psychologically.

Accordingly, by advocating against the adoption of drastic measures to contend with a predicament that entails a mounting threat and decreasing freedom to deal with it, “conflict management” has become a prescription for avoiding immediate confrontations that can be won, thereby risking having to contend with later confrontations that cannot be won—or can be won only at ruinous cost.

Paying the price of diplomatic impotence

Regrettably, the penchant for conflict management reflects reluctance to face unpalatable realities, and unwillingness to accept the need for regrettably harsh, but essential, policies.

In this respect, it is little more than a needless admission of intellectual surrender and operational inadequacy.  Thus, when Inbar urges the government to eschew pursuit of “impossible political goals”, this—despite its ring of down-to-earth common-sense—is, to a large degree, misleading. For what is politically “impossible” today reflects in great measure the gross incompetence and impotence of Israel’s public diplomacy efforts—which are little short of a grave dereliction of duty on the part of successive governments.

It is a diplomatic debacle that is endangering the lives of both Israeli citizens and Israeli soldiers—exposing them to recurring dangers because it is considered “politically impossible” to eradicate them.

But what is “politically impossible”, given the current puny public diplomacy effort may well be eminently possible with a far more robust, muscular and assertive endeavor designed to provide the authors of Israel’s national strategy the freedom of action they require to achieve the goals they set for that strategy.

Thus, diplomacy must be developed to facilitate the attainment of strategic goals, not to become a constraint that determines those goals.

Conflict management as “red herring”? 
I have argued repeatedly in the past that the function of diplomacy in general and public diplomacy in particular is akin to that of airpower. For just as the traditional role of the air force is to provide ground forces the freedom of action to achieve their objectives, so diplomacy—especially public diplomacy—must provide national leaders the freedom of action to achieve their county’s national goals—including those that pertain to the “West Bank”

Accordingly it should be afforded the kind of resources that befits its vital strategic role.  I have advocated allotting 1% of the state budget (i.e. one billion dollars) for a strategic diplomatic offensive. If that were done, one might find that what is politically impossible today, may suddenly become far more possible in the future—and conflict management will been seen to be no more than a misleading red herring.

 

Dr. Martin Sherman

Overspending

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Often one spouse accuses the other of being an over-spender. But what exactly is “overspending”? This definition changes from family to family; for one, going out to eat on a weekly basis may be within their means, while even a periodic coffee may be stretching the resources of another couple. So how does a family determine whether they can afford to eat out?

One cannot “overspend” if there isn’t a budget that defines spending limits. A budget can help reduce friction between spouses who have different spending patterns. If both partners agree to create and abide by a budget, then the one spouse is no longer the “bad cop” that regulates his or her partner’s spending habits.

Spending as an emotional issue

People spend money for a variety of reasons. Some expenses, like groceries and utilities, are a necessity, while others are discretionary. However, even within fixed expenses there is usually room to cut back. Does Shabbat dinner need to be an expensive cut of meat accompanied by costly wine, or will chicken and grape juice suffice?

Examine your fiscal habits. Do you have an idea of how much your monthly expenses are? Where do you spend money? Do you charge or pay in cash? Do you have financial goals that are important to you, and if so, are you actively working to achieve them? How would you feel if your spending habits changed? How would that change affect your spouse/family?

Consider the doctor who tells an overweight patient that unless he lost a considerable amount of weight, he would face serious illness. Chances are, the patient would diet and exercise. So why is there a discrepancy when a financial adviser recommends a fiscal diet and an exercise program of spending within a budget?

Very often, financial issues mask other problems within a relationship. Therefore, creating a budget is not only a good tool to monitor spending, but it can also help improve family harmony.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/overspending/2013/08/01/

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