Saturday September 5, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Ruthie Blum

Restating the obvious

Kudos to this week's Sunday Times for revealing the contents of a report on Palestinian spending of European aid. The report, which has yet to be released, was prepared by the European Court of Auditors, a Luxembourg-based watchdog group that is part of the organization Transparency International, based in Berlin.

The Court of Auditors was established in 1975 to monitor the financial conduct of the European Community (predecessor of the European Union). The aim of its report, then, was not to investigate the Palestinians per se. Rather, it was to examine the extent to which the EU has been keeping an eye on how the Palestinians have been utilizing the nearly 2 billion euros transferred to the Gaza Strip and West Bank from Brussels between 2008 and 2012.

It should come of no surprise that the EU did not pass inspection on this score. As the report determined, there have been no serious attempts to reduce the risk of "funds [in the hands of the Palestinian Authority] not being used for their intended purpose."

This "intended purpose" was to provide the Palestinian leadership with the money required to reform society and build democratic institutions, towards full-fledged statehood. More specific and immediate needs that have to be met, ostensibly through international funding, include matters like paying the salaries of public-sector employees.

Lo and behold, no matter how many millions of euros and dollars flow into the PA, Palestinian society does not reform, democratic institutions are not built, and salaries are not paid. The legacy left by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat is not only that of combining terror with talk of peace as the means to putting an end to the State of Israel, after all. Pocketing foreign cash is another time-honored tradition in Ramallah that carries on unhindered.

It is the latter that is the focus of the Court of Auditors' report. But to blame the EU for its lack of control over the money trail, the auditors had to acknowledge that the Palestinians have been lying about it with impunity.

This is not how they worded their criticisms, of course. Even the logical conclusion that emerges from the Sunday Times article must have caused them no small degree of ill ease, as is indicated by their having declined to comment for the piece. If so, the reason is a lot more transparent than Palestinian allocation of funds.

The premise on which the EU bases its policy towards the Palestinians is that every aspect of their plight is due to Israeli "occupation" -- that, had they not been "robbed" of their "national identity," they would have turned Ramallah into Silicon Valley by now. That this has been proved again and again to be a totally false premise is of no consequence. As George Orwell pointed out, "People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome."

The Palestinian leaders have been literally capitalizing on this Western mindset. Their underlings in the street, on the other hand, rarely catch a glimpse of the gold -- other than when being rewarded for horrific acts of violence that they are educated and encouraged to commit.

Meanwhile, happy to rake in the dough, the PA makes no bones about its disdain and loathing for its sugar daddies overseas. In an interview with official PA TV on March 7, Abd Al-Fattah Abu Srour, director of the Al-Rowwad Theater and head of the Palestinian actors' union, said: "The theater's purpose is not to be diplomatic and not to make peace between the nations ... not for normalization ... and not to accept donors' dictates for projects and programs that have nothing to do with us or with our Palestinian nation's priorities."

The host of the program egged him on: "I ask you, the 'donors' filth' -- in quotation marks or without quotation marks -- how has it affected our theater and culture in Palestine?"

Abu Srour replied, "Unfortunately, it has affected many institutions ... with agendas and projects that have nothing to do with us. The EU works a lot on normalization projects ... under the name of 'peace.'"

It is more than tiresome to have to reiterate the PA position on "peace" for the enlightenment of Western chumps who continue to bury their heads in the sand while opening their wallets. But, to quote Orwell again, "We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."

Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"

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