USAID Subsidizes Arab Terror in Judea and Samaria Tuesday, June 28, 2005
US law prevents using taxpayers' money to fund institutions that support terrorism. Yet that hasn't deterred USAID from spending millions on projects that glorify terror and facilitate recruitment.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reports that U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority is being spent on institutions that support and glorify terrorism and promote hatred of Israel and the United States.
Money authorized by Congress to improve economic conditions in the PA has been used indirectly to subsidize terrorist activity. Much of the money was distributed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
"I am very disturbed by the findings of this report, particularly the widespread nature of the alleged violations," said Congresswomen Nita Lowry (D - New York). "I will ask USAID to provide Congress with a detailed response to these findings immediately. This report cannot go unanswered by the leadership of USAID," she said.
PMW Director Itamar Marcus says that this year, USAID has paid out $7 million to PA universities, which allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad to organize and operate freely on campus. Marcus also says that PA universities provide terror groups with the means to inculcate thousands of students with radical Islamic philosophy.
The Israeli Civil Administration has repeatedly ordered the closure of PA universities due to terrorist activity taking place on campus. Terror groups have recruited suicide bombers from among the student body on numerous occasions.
Israel's High Court has upheld the legality of the closures after reviewing evidence of terrorist activity submitted by the Shin Bet and the IDF.
Just one week ago, a 21-year-old woman terrorist, a student at Al-Quds University near Ramallah, was caught with 15 pounds of explosives hidden in her underwear, on her way to a planned terror attack at an Israeli hospital.
A USAID official, Sylvia Foa, responded to Marcus' allegations by comparing the situation at PA universities with that prevailing on campuses elsewhere in the world, including Israel. "I don't think there is a university in the whole wide world that doesn't have radical student groups who don't belong in the politics of the mainstream," said Foa. "I know that in Tel Aviv University there are radical groups, but that is not any reason to stop giving books to that University."
Foa contends that USAID's assistance to PA universities, such as Al Najah in Shechem, was mainly in the form of books, library subscriptions, and equipment for computer labs.
Marcus points out, however, that United States' law prohibits allocating taxpayer money to any "individual, private or government entity, or educational institution that the Secretary [of State] knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity..."
Foa does not believe that USAID has violated the law. "How can anyone say that donating to a library is promoting terrorism?" asked Foa.
Aside from Arab universities, Marcus claims that USAID subsidizes other PA institutions that support and glorify terrorists. PA schools named for terrorists have received USAID grants. One example given is the Dalal Al-Mughrabi High School for Girls in Hebron. Al-Mughrabi was a woman terrorist who killed 36 people, including American nature photographer Gail Rubin in 1978.
When PMW exposed USAID funding for renovations in the school in 2002, the State Department froze the money until the PA said they had changed the school's name. But the school's original name, glorifying the memory of a mass murderer, appeared in the PA press in 2004 when the school was listed as a polling station.
PMW reports that in June 1994, USAID spent $410,000 of U.S. taxpayer money to build the Salah Khalaf Recreation and Sports Center near Nablus. Salah Khalaf, also known as Abu Iyad, was leader of the Palestinian Black September terror organization that was responsible for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the killing of two US diplomats in Sudan the following year.
USAID also distributes money to PA municipalities, which name their streets after terrorists who have murdered Israelis. Khan Yunis, a city in Gaza east of Neveh Dekalim in Gush Katif, has named its main street after former Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was responsible for the murder of hundreds of Israelis, before he was killed by the IDF.
USAID recently gave the municipality of Khan Yunis $800,000 to build a sports complex.
Marcus suggests that USAID, quick to spend the millions it gets from the U.S. Congress, has not been effective in making sure its money does not go to institutions that support or glorify terrorism.
Apparently, naming a street for Sheik Yassin doesn't particularly irk the officials at USAID, despite the fact that by all accounts he was one of the world's most notorious terrorists.
One is only left to wonder how quick USAID would be with its financial largesse if the terrorist so honored was called Osama bin Laden.
(The full PMW report is available at www.pmw.org.il)
USAID denies funding Palestinian terror
Money from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was indirectly used to fund terrorist activity, alleges a new report by the Israeli monitoring organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).
The report prompted US Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D) of New York to issue a call Monday for USAID to provide Congress with a detailed response to the report's findings.
"This report cannot go unanswered by the leadership of USAID," said Lowey. "I'm grateful to Palestinian Media Watch for carefully monitoring this situation and bringing these possible violations to light."
PMW Director Itamar Marcus alleged on Friday that many of the institutions and frameworks in the Palestinian Authority that receive funding through USAID, should be ineligible for those funds by US law.
"USAID was interested in having money going out," said Marcus. "But it was, unfortunately, not interested in following the spirit of what the US congress was trying to do with that money."
US law prohibits the funding of any governmental structure, institution, organization or company that sponsors or promotes terrorism. In its report, the PMW alleges that Palestinian universities, which received nearly $7 million in aid this year, host branches of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In addition it claims that PA municipalities, which also receive USAID funds, have changed street names to the names of terrorists, therefore promoting an atmosphere that fosters terrorism. It specifically cites Khan Yunis, in the Gaza strip as an example.
"The accusations of this report are all ludicrous," said Sylvana Foa, head of USAID's public diplomacy office in the West bank and Gaza Mission. "There is not one fact connected with the charges [PMW] is making. We are so much in compliance that it slows our work a great deal. But we are very very happy to stay in compliance."
Foa said PMW had no evidence and could not provide a single example of a direct incident.
"I think this is really a case of shoddy journalism on the part of PMW," said Foa. "We have a scrupulous screening process in which every contractor and every person they work with is screened and then made to sign a form saying they are not, and have not been involved with terrorism at any time."
She added that organizations and municipalities had to receive clearance from USAID before naming any project with which USAID funds were connected.
In the second part of its report PMW alleges that An-Najah University in Nablus, one of the schools receiving USAID funds, promoted and even organized Hamas rallies and events on campus.
Foa, however, said that USAID has never given raw funds to any Palestinian organizations. An-Najah University, she said, received funds in the forms of books and electronic subscriptions to their libraries, and equipment for their computer lab.
"How can anyone say that donating to a library is promoting terrorism?" asked Foa.
Marcus, however, said that under US law it did not matter to what division of the school, or in what form, funds were being transferred.
"The bottom line is that if they support terrorism they can't receive US money. Giving funds, in whatever form is illegal," said Marcus. "So what if you give them books or computer equipment, that just frees up room in their budget to give to Hamas or any other terrorist organization. With these universities the right hand takes the funds while the left hand supports terrorism."
But cutting off all education aid to Palestinian universities could not be the message that the US hoped to send, said Foa.
"I don't think there is a university in the whole wide world that doesn't have radical student groups who don't belong in the politics of the mainstream," said Foa. "I know that in Tel Aviv University there are radical groups, but that is not any reason to stop giving books to that University."
"The atmosphere today in the PA is of a society that is glorifying terrorists everywhere a person turns," said Marcus. "A child could get up in the morning and walk on a street named for a terrorist, then go to a school named for a terrorist, and in the afternoon play on a sports team named for a terrorist. He is told by everything he sees that the honored people in his society are those who kill Israelis."