Newsweek Needs To Learn: Follow The Money
There’s an awful lot that’s wrong with this one article in Newsweek, which purports to be a comprehensive analysis of the ongoing “stabbing intifada.” Two corrections have already been made and are noted at the end of the article. But I’m going to focus on the one omission that I found particularly astounding.
Author Jack Moore purports to examine the question of what motivates these individuals to commit these attacks.
Palestinians of all ages and genders are carrying out violent attacks against Israelis, at great risk to their own lives. They also risk the livelihoods of their loved ones: Israel recently revived its policy of demolishing an attacker’s family home, despite the act being defined as illegal under international law and criticized as collective punishment by human rights groups.
So why do Palestinians continue to carry out these acts, knowing the likely cost to their lives and their families?
Many of the attackers come from east Jerusalem, an area of the holy city captured and occupied by Israeli forces in the 1967 Six Day War. Israel has steadily built a series of Jewish communities known as settlements in this area that, which the majority of the international community considers to be illegal.
In response to Palestinian attacks during the Second Intifada, Israel began construction on a separation barrier it said was to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers and boost Israeli security. Israel says that in the years since the structure was started, it has prevented many deadly suicide bombings. According to the U.K.-based Council for Arab-British Understanding, the wall—almost two-thirds of which is now built—will run a distance of 712 kilometers, with 85 percent of the structure running through the West Bank, rather than along the Green Line.
It goes on for an additional ten paragraphs, with more of the typical rationalizations, before “balancing” those points with one paragraph stating that Israelis complain that Palestinian incitement is behind the attacks. After that, the article returns to delivering the Palestinian “narrative.”
Here’s what Newsweek, and most reporting on this issue, omits: the financial incentive for these attacks.
In 2013, Edwin Black wrote for The Guardian,
When a Palestinian is convicted of an act of terror against the Israeli government or innocent civilians, such as a bombing or a murder, that convicted terrorist automatically receives a generous salary from the Palestinian Authority. The salary is specified by the Palestinian “law of the prisoner” and administered by the PA’s Ministry of Prisoner Affairs. A Palestinian watchdog group, the Prisoners Club, ensures the PA’s compliance with the law and pushes for payments as a prioritized expenditure. This means that even during frequent budget shortfalls and financial crisis, the PA pays the prisoners’ salaries first and foremost – before other fiscal obligations. . . .
Under a sliding scale, carefully articulated in the law of the prisoner, the more serious the act of terrorism, the longer the prison sentence, and consequently, the higher the salary. Incarceration for up to three years fetches a salary of almost $400 per month. Prisoners behind bars for between three and five years will be paid about $560 monthly – a compensation level already higher than that for many ordinary West Bank jobs. Sentences of ten to 15 years fetch salaries of about $1,690 per month. Still worse acts of terrorism against civilians, punished with sentences between 15 and 20 years, earn almost $2,000 per month.
These are the best salaries in the Palestinian territories.
If the terrorist dies while committing the attack, his family is paid by the Martyr’s Families and Injured Care Establishment.
The Palestinian Authority recently reaffirmed its role in making these payments. When the government of Iran offered to use some of the cash that it received from its nuclear deal to pay families of terrorists directly, a Palestinian Authority spokesman called it an “illegal interference in internal Palestinian affairs,” and said that Iran should “send this money through official channels to the (PA’s) Martyrs and Prisoners Foundation rather than relying on informal and circuitous routes.”
In any other context, it would be inconceivable to examine the motivations for people to commit certain acts without including financial compensation as a possible motive. It’s even more notable because Newsweek discussed the financial disincentive — home demolitions — but omitted the financial reward. This is the warped world of reporting on Israel.