This week we were witness to a rare “the emperor has no clothes” moment. A federal court jury in New York City held the PLO and the Palestinian Authority liable for sponsoring, orchestrating, encouraging and financing acts of terror in Israel against Americans. These intertwined terrorist entities were ordered to pay $218M in regular damages, which under US law is trebled to more than $650M, to the victimized families. Once and for all, the official representatives of the “Palestinian” people were adjudicated to be terrorist hoodlums, something that anyone with eyes, ears and brains always knew but which was suppressed by the political and media elites for legal, political and diplomatic reasons.
And after the decision that vindicated a host of innocent Americans, Jews and non–Jews, and partly compensated them for the horrific pain and suffering they endured, the State Department had ……”no comment.” No comment?! How curious. And how unsurprising.
Under US law, funding to the PA must be halted if the PA is deemed to be a terrorist entity. The President has to certify annually that the PA is not a terrorist entity. All presidents since the 1990s have duly certified this fiction, which everyone knew to be false. This has enabled the PA to receive around $400M annually in our tax dollars, money which (in addition to feathering the nests of Arafat, Abbas and their cronies) we now know has been paid to terrorist prisoners and families of suicide bombers. In effect, our tax dollars helped underwrite these evildoers who exploded themselves on buses, streets, pizzerias, schools and shopping malls. It is sick, vulgar and horrifying.
And here’s what is equally sick, vulgar and horrifying: our tax dollars will continue to be provided to these two entities, as if the trial did not take place, as if the decision was not rendered, as if these organizations were not held liable, and as if the terror did not happen, is not happening and will not happen in the future. As if the current PA has no connection to the PA of a decade ago. As if current dictator Mahmoud Abbas was not the deputy to the murderous Arafat and was uninvolved in funding terror. As if Abbas did not personally approve payments to terrorists in the last decade, including some of the terrorists whose deeds were on trial in the federal court of New York’s Southern District.
In fact, the PA was found liable in the matter of Sokolow et al v. the PLO and PA specifically because the governing agencies of the PA were directly involved in sponsoring and funding terror and terrorists, and creating an environment in which terrorism was (is) not only acceptable but laudable. The PA leadership, the jury found, promoted terrorists, increased their salaries, paid their families a healthy wage, honored dead terrorists by naming town squares and summer camps after them, and generally incentivized terror.
I attended the defense summation last week (close friends of mine were among the plaintiffs), and the PA lawyer was certainly game. In essence, his argument was that the money paid to the terrorists was not an inducement to terror, the job promotions were not limited to the terrorists and the suicide bombers acted on their own (perhaps purchasing the suicide vests over the counter at the Ramallah shopping mall). He asserted, probably truthfully, that these terrorists would have acted even without the inducements, and under the principle of respondeat superior, an employer is only liable for the acts of his employee if the employee is acting within the scope of his employment and in furtherance of the objectives and goals of the employer. And of course, he claimed, these terrorists were not acting pursuant to PA doctrine but were rather free agents, moved by personal considerations. Even the fact that many terrorists – and behind the scenes organizers – were PA police officers was minimized or excused.
The jury rejected those contentions completely. The terrorists were acting in a way that promoted the objectives of their employer, who even compensated them or their families for their diligence in dismembering innocent shoppers and bus passengers. They knew that their superiors approved of what they were doing (especially when, um, the superiors were involved in the planning). The PA could no longer hide behind its traditional fictions such as the ritual denunciation of terror to Western but not Arab audiences, the shell game of the creation of “new” terrorist groups with unusual names and acronyms (same thugs, different titles) and the fabricated attribution of terrorist acts to this or that alleged provocation. It was all planned, coordinated, executed and paid for by those two organizations and their derivatives, and with the connivance of too many others who preferred to look away rather than accept reality.
The defendants were found liable on every count. Finally.
This is a diplomatic earthquake. It exposes the hollowness – again – of the failed and humiliating Oslo process, backed by more Israelis and American Jewish leaders than one cares to remember. The premise for two decades of the peace processors – American, Israeli, and European – has been that the PA wants peace, loves peace, has renounced terror forever and wants to be a civilized nation among the family of nations. That premise has been shattered as – what many of us have long known – a complete and utter hoax, an act of self-delusion among its proponents, especially many American Jews and most American Jewish organizations. Sadly, they will not be dissuaded by this decision. After all, the State Department had no comment, and therefore the decision has no practical application. To them. In the world of reality and truth, as opposed to the world of fantasy, falsehood and photo ops, it matters greatly.
What’s next? There will be appeals and further legal maneuvers. The U.S. government can step in at any time and save the PA’s skin, absolving it of its financial responsibility and announcing – when it decides to comment – that the decision related to the “old PA,” but the new PA, all good ‘ole boys, has nothing to do with that or them. The PA is already claiming to be on the verge of bankruptcy, not a great surprise for an entity that has no natural resources, no functioning economy, has been propped up for years by the West’s blackmail payments, and whose primary export is terror. (Israel this week temporarily suspended the provision of electricity to two major Arab towns for failure to pay their electric bills. Another Israeli anomaly: the Israeli taxpayer has been subsidizing its enemies’ electric needs for almost two decades.) The US government would have to allow PLO and PA assets (especially real property) to be attached.
The PA will do everything in its power and use every threat and gambit it can to avoid paying this new debt to the victims of their craving for terror. And diplomats – stripped of the fig leaf that the PA is a civilized entity ready for statehood – have had their foundation torn out from under them. Well, that is true unless they deny what has happened, and continue to have no comment.
Not coincidentally this week, the Obama administration has doubled down in its antagonism towards Israel. The attempt to suppress PM Netanyahu’s speech has become obsessive; after all, it’s just a speech. Susan Rice, dispatched by the Obama administration (does it sound like Valerie Jarrett?) to lie about the causes of the Benghazi attacks, was irate, criticizing Netanyahu for “destroying” the US-Israel relationship, clearly an exaggeration but something for which presumably she believes neither she nor her bosses have any – any – responsibility. How dare Netanyahu argue against the planned annihilation of his people! The nerve of those uppity Jews.
She, too, probably has no comment on the jury decision. Will she, the National Security Advisor, recommend the designation of the PA as a “terror entity,” as common sense would demand in the wake of the verdict? Nah, the enemy is in Jerusalem, not Ramallah. It is best to ignore the jury ruling in New York.
One thing seems increasingly clear: Obama will recognize a Palestinian state before his term ends, either through a UN resolution or on his own initiative, or both. Snipers at Israel will attribute it to his poor relationship with Netanyahu, but the signs are already clear and a Netanyahu defeat in the elections will only hasten it, even as a victory will not forestall it for long. And when Obama does, his Jewish acolytes will continue to fawn over him and dote on his every word and gesture. But, his is not the final word. What happens in Israel will be decided in Israel – not in Washington and not by Obama.
What’s Obama’s biggest fear about Netanyahu’s forthcoming speech to Congress? It is not just that the Prime Minister will oppose the pending sellout to the Iranians; let Obama make his case why he thinks it is a good deal. But Obama’s greatest fear is that Netanyahu will be gracious and statesmanlike, showering praise on Obama for what he has done for Israel and critiquing the dangers implicit in abandoning the US commitment to prevent a nuclear Iran. Netanyahu will sound like a leader, a stark contrast to the pettiness, and verbal and legal thuggery, that the Obama administration has routinely employed against its perceived enemies, domestic and foreign. Netanyahu could wind up more popular – in America, at least – than Obama is, as the nation is yearning for leadership and an assertion of American exceptionalism.
It should frighten all Americans that the Obama administration has spent its last six years empowering every American enemy across the globe and alienating every ally. Israel is in Obama’s cross-hairs for several reasons, but primarily because Obama sees Israel as the impediment to the United States’ rapprochement with the Arab-Muslim world that Obama imagines will bring “peace in our time.”
It is strange that the loquacious Obama, like his State Department, has had no comment on the verdict in New York, and all because it does not fit his narrative of events, past and future. But good people do not forget the reign of terror of the evildoers and forever extol the virtues of those who fight the good fight trying to thwart them. The Jewish people especially have a long memory – certainly this week we do – of the Amalek of old and of the Amalek reborn in our generation, and what has to be done in order to defeat it and redeem the world. The tide of history is on the side of Mordechai and Esther – those unafraid to speak truth to power and will vigorously defend the interests of the Jewish people.