I don’t know why anybody else has ever thought of looking at this before, but I am very happy (and not surprised) that CAMERA has. Since everyone is tripping over their underwear to give the Palestinians money, CAMERA has decided to look at how many people have been killed by Palestinians each year (both Israeli and Palestinian) to seek a correlation between the aid and the deaths. The year after the terrorists get the aid the number of deaths increase. YOU MUST take a look at this research below and send it to everyone you know that says we need to “prop up” Abbas. As many of us have been saying all along–the Aid we give today causes deaths tomorrow.
Questions about Palestinian Aid
Since the inauguration of a Fatah government in the West Bank, and its delinking from the Hamas-led Gaza Strip,Western governments have moved quickly to provide aid to the new leadership. Israel too has agreed to turn over withheld tax revenue, release Palestinian prisoners and offer amnesty to wanted militants. The amount of aid promised to the Palestinians in 2007 is on track to exceed any previous year. Many commentators observing this outpouring of generosity towards the new Fatah-dominated government have expressed the need to proceed cautiously noting the failure of prior aid to moderate Palestinian behavior, but few have provided specific information to substantiate their concern. In fact, a comparison of annual aid to the Palestinian government with the annual number of Palestinian homicides shows a worrisome correlation.
Statistics on Palestinian homicides and foreign aid to Gaza and the West Bank reveal that as aid increased to the Palestinian government so too did the numbers of people killed by Palestinian militants. The following graph illustrates the correlation (both Israeli and Palestinian victims are included in the homicide count).
These statistics do not mean that foreign aid causes violence but they do raise questions about the effectiveness of using foreign donations to promote moderation and combat terrorism. The graphs reveal that the increased budgetary aid to the Palestinian government after the start of the second Intifada in September 2000 was accompanied by a corresponding increase in the number of Palestinian homicides in 2001 and 2002. After mid-2002, Israeli countermeasures against suicide bombers began to reduce the number of Israeli dead. By August 2003, the first portion of the security barrier was in place, leading to a rapid decline in homicides in 2003. The appointment of Salam Fayyad, a moderate technocrat, to the finance ministry in late 2002 also resulted in reduced aid as Israeli tax revenue was restored to the Palestinian government. While Israeli countermeasures reduced the number of Israeli victims, Palestinian factional violence took an ever increasing toll. When including Palestinian victims of Palestinian violence as well as Israeli victims, the correlation between aid and homicides continues beyond 2003.
Government Aid to Combat Radicalism and Terrorism
The strategy of using aid to promote moderation is accepted without question by much of the media and by many policymakers. A New York Times editorial epitomizes this viewpoint warning, “There is no question that, if they are to survive, Mr. Abbas and Fatah need bolstering fast after the victory in Gaza of Hamas, which favors Israel’s destruction. The whole future of the two-state solution – an independent Palestine living in relative peace with an independent Israel – seems ever more at stake” ( June 17, 2007).
The London Times’s Bronwen Maddox offers a similar prescription, calling the infusion of funds an “overdue move to strengthen moderate Palestinians” (June 19, 2007).
Commentators critical of the policy of suspending aid to the Palestinian government emphasize the importance of reducing Palestinian hardship and show less concern with the diversion of funds to violent groups. For example, M.J. Rosenberg, director of policy analysis for the Israel Policy Forum scoffed “the whole business of putting onerous conditions on Palestinians has created the disaster that is occurring today.” (antiwar.com, Khody Akhavi, InterPress Service, June 28, 2007)
The argument for aid stems from the belief that the way to defeat radicalism is to eliminate its ostensible fuel: poverty and ignorance. But as early as 1958, Daniel Lerner discerned that political activism in the Middle East was not driven by the “have nots,” but rather by the “want mores.”
Claude Berrebi of Princeton University analyzed Palestinian terrorism and determined that “if anything… those with higher education and higher living standards are more likely to participate in terrorist activity” ( “Evidence About the Link Between Education, Poverty and Terrorism Among Palestinians,” Rand Corporation, 2003). Other studies have come to similar conclusions. An investigation by Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (Vol. 17, 2003), found that Palestinian suicide bombers were more likely than the general population to have completed secondary education and were less likely to come from an impoverished environment. They also found similar results associated with membership in Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group. Krueger and Maleckova noted that increased Palestinian terrorism occurred both in situations of rising and falling economic environments.
An econometric based analysis by Jean-Paul Azam and Alexandra Delacroix published in 2006 found a positive correlation between the amount of foreign aid provided and the number of terrorist acts emanating out of a recipient state. (Aid and the Delegated Fight Against Terrorism, Review of Development Economics, 10(2), 330/344, 2006). Azam and Delacroix are cautious about the conclusions to be drawn, but like the graphs presented above, their correlation raises questions about the effectiveness of aid as a policy to combat terrorism and radicalism. This would seem to doubly apply where elements within the government itself may be involved in terrorism.
The Palestinian Political Environment has Changed Between 2000 and 2007
Infusions of foreign funds into the PA budget from late 2000 through 2002 correlated with increased violence. Only when Israel enforced a near total separation from the Palestinians in 2003-2004 did the level of terrorist killing decline significantly. But this was soon followed by increasing factional violence, which is consistent with the fact that money was still being made available to purchase weapons and pay the salaries of the expanding militias.
During the second Intifada, the Palestinian Authority was headed by Yasir Arafat, who tolerated and abetted militant groups. The new Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is widely accepted as the most moderate yet, with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Mahmud Abbas at the helm. In an effort to bolster the new government, foreign donors are offering record levels of aid in 2007.
Nevertheless, there are serious questions about how much control over armed elements these more moderate leaders really have. The past correlation between increased aid and increased violence during the previous Intifada, and research questioning commonly held beliefs about the roots of terrorism and radicalism, demand more discussion in the media.
World Bank, “Four Years, Intifada, Closure and Palestinian Economic Crisis: An Assessment,”2004
World Bank, ‘Twenty Seven Months, Intifada, Closure and Palestinian Economic Crisis: An Assessment,” 2003
IMF, “West Bank and Gaza: Fiscal Performance in 2006,” March 2007
EU, “Does Direct Aid to the Palestinian Authority Help the Palestinian Arabs,” March 2005
IMF, “West Bank and Gaza,” Sept. 15, 2003
World Bank , “Economic Update and Potential Outlook,” March 2006
Report on anti-Israeli terrorism by Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, March 2007
Data on Palestinian internal violence 2002, 2003, 2004 in AP article, Oct.6, 2005
Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizen’s Rights, web site
Data from statistics of Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, web site
OCHA reports, 2005 – 2007