When the sorrowful news arrived about the discovery in a field north of Hebron of the bodies of 16 year old American-Israeli Naftali Frenkel, Israelis Gilad Shaar, 16 and Eyal Yifrach, 19 z”l (of blessed memory) the immediate emotional reaction was to extend condolences and expressions of rachmonis (compassion) to their bereaved and grief stricken families. Virtually all Israelis were praying hopeful of their safe return following their abduction by alleged Hamas supporters while hitchhiking home from a yeshiva on the evening of June 12, 2014. With this yesterday’s announcement hope was tragically dashed. We published an NER article,“Exposing Hamas’ Kidnapping Strategy: an Interview with Dan Diker”, with formal statements from Israel’s PM Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and President Obama. The common thread was the commitment to bring to justice the perpetrators identified by Israeli authorities as prime suspects in the murders of the three Yeshiva students. PM Netanyahu declared that “Hamas will be punished… Hamas will pay”.
But the question arose, how can that be achieved? When the announcement was made of a Palestinian Authority Hamas unity government, there was outrage. Hamas had been designated a foreign terrorist organization by our State Department. By law our government is barred from funding designated terrorist groups. Following the formal announcement of the PA-Hamas Unity government there was a groundswell of support among Congressional supporters of Israel to deny appropriation of $500 million in support of the PA.
Noted investigative author, Edwin Black, wrote in a May 1, 2014, Israel National News op-ed,”Financing the Flames III: Lawmakers Ready to Defund PA” :
“At this point, the law is clear, their actions are clear, and the path forward is clear,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) told the JTA news service immediately after news of the Hamas union became known. Lowey is the ranking Democrat on the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee of the US House Appropriations Committee. Subcommittee chairperson Kate Granger (R-TX) echoed Lowey’s statements. Representatives Granger and Lowey, in many ways, control the purse strings.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) released a statement that he would immediately move to defund the PA if the new Hamas-PA entity did not agree to recognize Israel in five weeks. Numerous other legislators have signaled their readiness to vote for similar legislation now being formulated with competing wording. April 29, 2014, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) told a Jewish group assembled in the Committee’s Rayburn Building chamber that he would also support halting all PA funding if incitement is not curtailed.
Black cited calls for stopping aid to the PA-government from UK Parliamentarians and the EU:
In Brussels, several members of the European Parliament, such as Poland’s Michal Kaminsky, demanded under Rule 117 that such funding be stopped. At the same time, a special report by the EU’s Court of Auditors discovered that more than 90 million Euros in fuel subsidies have simply vanished. Moreover, the EU report concluded, Europe is paying salaries for approximately 61,000 civil servants and members of the security forces–who do not even report to work. In one office, the National Audit Institute of Palestine, a check confirmed that 90 staffers out of 125 could not be located.
Additionally, there is also the matter of the annual Congressional appropriation for a donation in support of the UNWRA program that funds administration of 58 camps in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon housing an estimated 1.5 million registered Palestinian refugees covering four generations. Those UNWRA Palestinian refugee camps have been complicit in providing employment to terrorists and educating children in incitement to hate and violence towards Israel and Jews.
That led my colleague Lisa Benson of the Salem Radio Network weekly Lisa Benson National Security Show to conceive of launching a campaign seeking to convince Americans contact the President, their Senators and Congressional Representatives with a message. We called that message by its Twitter handle #DefundHamas. The website is: http://www.defundhamas.com/.
Benson contacted Larry Ward at Political Media in Washington, DC to create a website, deploy the program’s and other e-mail lists to reach nearly a million people in the US and abroad. Ward, coincidentally, was interviewed as spokesperson for Special Operations Speaks together with Roger Aronoff of Accuracy in Media’s Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi that appears in our July NER article, “Death in Benghazi, Part 2: Will the House Select Committee Find Truth?“ By 11:00 p.m. last night a website was up with links to donations and automatic letters to send to elected US. governmental officials. We drafted a form letter to request those elected US government officials to support #DefundHamas. Below is a copy of the letter. Consider this our push back against the terrorist murderers of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrak z”l. May their memories live forever as guideposts for good thoughts and good deeds.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.