If one were to make a chart with numerous issues and laws on the one side and the views of Presidents Obama and Trump on the other, the outcome would be near-complete opposites. On a wide range of issues from the Paris Climate Accords, the “Iran Deal”, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, taxes, business regulation, the role of government, the Second Amendment, abortion, and on and on, President Obama and President Trump exhibit nearly complete opposite viewpoints. Yet, there appears to be one issue that unites these last two presidents: support of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the PLO at the expense of American citizens harmed by Palestinian terrorists.
The Palestinian Authority was meant to be a temporary, quasi-governmental body that would serve to bridge the Israeli administration of the “Palestinian territories” to a full-fledged state of Palestine. How could such a transient body have just celebrated its 25th anniversary last year with a leader who has stayed in office ten years beyond his legal mandate? The problem is that the Palestinian leadership does not want to settle for the mini-state of Gaza and the West Bank being offered them. They want either the whole “river to sea” business (which would include Israel) or they want Israel to be filled with generations descended from original Palestinian refugees, so that in a short time Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. The result has been no success in moving from the PA to the state of Palestine, though several Israeli leaders proposed final arrangements, which were rejected by Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, each in his time.
If the Palestinian Authority has failed to morph into a full-fledged state, why are Israel and the US so enamored with it? The reason is simple: because the alternatives appear much worse. If the Palestinian Authority were to go out of business, ostensibly several horrible options could arise. Israel could go back and “occupy” the same lands. Israel is not interested in running schools, administering hospitals, patrolling the streets, and the like. Not having to run Gaza is one of the major reasons Israel has avoided going into Gaza with large numbers of troops: Israel does not want to rule over Palestinian areas even if it means that it cannot stop the rocket fire on its cities. But if the PA is gone and Israel does not want the job, what would happen? Hamas might take over, which would mean that Iran would be well-entrenched right at Israel’s front door. Alternatively, a humanitarian crisis could ensue, as there would be no order or policing. Thus, Israel and the US are desperately tied to the Palestinian Authority, and when the latter makes noises about going broke or not continuing, both countries enter a spasm of activity to ostensibly prop up and save the last defense against Israeli re-occupation, Hamas or total mayhem.
This pathological need to keep the PA afloat thus unites all administrations going back as far as the days of Bill Clinton. While John Kerry, as Secretary of State, came in on the side of the Palestinian Authority in the case of Sokolow v. PLO, of which I am a plaintiff, his opposite number, Mike Pompeo, has now come in for the PA in our appeal of the same case. How could secretaries of State with such different outlooks and such different bosses both come down on the side of people who were shown in Federal court to have wantonly killed and maimed American citizens? The answer is that the PA is the only game in town and American and Israeli leaders are terrified that American citizens might bankrupt this corrupt organization. Our trebled jury judgment in the Sokolow case was $655.5 million dollars; this judgment was thrown out when the PA was defined as not “at home” in the US for the purpose of terror victim lawsuits. A corrective law, the Anti-Terror Clarification Act (ATCA) passed both houses of Congress unanimously and was signed into law in October. One of its requirements is that any group receiving US funds agrees to be held to US anti-terrorism laws. President Trump signed the law and everything was fine for a whole two months.
In December of last year, the US wanted to transfer to the PA $61 million for security coordination. It became clear that should the PA accept these monies then the PA would make itself liable in cases like ours. So, the PA swore off all US funding, even returning scholarships of Palestinian students studying in Lebanese universities. The State Department has worked furiously to destroy the ATCA. Any proposed modification to allow for PA funding that also included consideration of families like my own has been rejected out of hand by the Trump State Department. The leader of the anti-American efforts at State is one David Satterfield, a Washington swamp carbuncle whose thirty plus year career has taken him to cities including Jeddah, Tunis, Beirut, Algiers, Damascus, and Baghdad. His behavior has been so egregious that when President Trump nominated Satterfield to be the American ambassador to Turkey, fellow Republican Senator Chuck Grassley put a hold on his appointment and specifically entered into the Congressional Record that Satterfield’s attempts to help out the PA and PLO without any regard for American citizens harmed by these groups are the reasons for the hold on his appointment.
Instead of being bullied by the Palestinians into believing that the PA is on the verge of collapse (as they still spend north of $100 million per year on the families of Palestinian terrorists sitting in Israeli jails), the US would do well to teach the Palestinians that statehood comes with responsibilities. We, the Sokolow plaintiffs, have never been interested in bankrupting the Palestinian Authority or harming the general Palestinian population. We have, rather, sought redress for the attacks we experienced through the laws and courts of our country. That leaders of both parties feel compelled to shaft us at every turn to help a pack of murderers and their enablers speaks volumes as to how far away peace really is between Israelis and Palestinians. There are lots of Americans in Israel—Jews of all backgrounds, students, pilgrims, tourists. If the Palestinians knew that each attack against civilians might include an American victim and that such victims cost money, even the Palestinians might realize that terror doesn’t pay. Helping them get out of their responsibility as Kerry and Pompeo have done only increases Palestinian militancy and proves that there is no real downside to blowing up a guy from Chicago and his seven-year-old son.
I had never given money to any politician in the past. Sure, I held a sign for Ab Mikva for Congress, but I did so because my mother told me to. But I have given money to President Trump, as I have seen him strengthen the US economy, get people back to work, rebuild deterrence abroad, support Israel and demonstrate his heartfelt affection for the Jewish people. But if he can’t figure out how to make a deal that helps our side as well as the Palestinians and if he lets Deep State detritus like David Satterfield determine his policies, then he won’t get another penny from this voter.