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Sarah: Good afternoon and welcome to yet another extremely topical and unfortunately, extremely timely a net webinar. Yesterday, near the community of Eli, Palestinian terrorists opened fire, immediately killing four people, Nachman Mordoff, 17, Elisha Anteman, 18, Harel Masood, 21, and Ofer Fayerman, 63. These people were murdered for the crime of being Jews. What creates such hatred? These governments have been members of Hamas. Nonetheless, it must be said that despite constant and repeated requests to alter the textbooks, the Palestinian authorities’ textbooks have remained unaltered and unchanged for years and years. They contain incitement to violence and sheer hatred of Jews. They still glorify and deify terrorists such as Dalal Mughrabi, who in 1978 killed 38 Israelis, including 18 children. They exhort young people to follow in her path and to become jihadists to this very day.

We’ve also seen how the Palestinian Authority, despite teaching their children share antipathy of the Israeli and the Jews, has become increasingly weaker and weaker still in the eyes of the Palestinian population. Why is it that although the United States and Israel have been well aware of this vile hatred for over 30 years now, successive governments both here in the United States and in Israel have backed the PA? Why is it that the United States has overlooked and ignored both the letter and the spirit of the Taylor Force Act and has allowed approximately $300 million a year to go to the salaries of terrorists or to their families?

Here to answer these questions and more is our wonderful dear friend Shoshana Bryen. Shoshana is the Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington DC and editor of In-Focus Quarterly. She’s a writer and speaker and also the host of a webinar series that brings audiences a wide variety of topics, foreign and domestic, and conversations with academics, political figures, and media commentators. Shoshana is a specialist in American defense policy and Middle East affairs. She worked previously as the Executive Director and Senior Director for Security Policy at JINSA, where she was the author of the JINSA Reports. She also has worked with the Strategic Studies Institute in the US Army War College, the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, and lectured at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.

Shoshana coordinated programs in the Middle East for military professionals that allowed nearly 500 American military officers to engage in professional discussions of issues that both unite and divide the United States, Israel, as well as Jordan. She has also created a program to take the cadets and midshipmen of America’s service academies to Israel for a three-week work-study program that permitted hundreds of future officers to have a positive in-depth experience in Israel. Shoshana’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the New York Sun, and Defense News among other great outlets. And she has been interviewed on a variety of radio and television programs. Shoshana is a member of the Advisory Board of Aleethia Foundation that provides opportunities for wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghan Wars and the American Jewish International Relations Institute of [inaudible]. First of all, welcome back to our program, Shoshana. It is always a tremendous pleasure to have you.

Shoshana: Thank you, Sarah.

Sarah: It’s a pleasure. Our first and most fundamental question is, why do you think it is that successive Israeli and American governments have overlooked decades upon decades of PA incitement and in fact, the PA?

Shoshana: They overlook it because it’s always hard to admit a mistake. You have to understand that the two countries, the United States and Israel, have different motives for what they’re doing, different reasons for protecting us. Although the outcome is the same, they’re both protecting them. But they started in roughly the same place with the [inaudible] Accords in 1993. I remember that the Accords did not mention Palestinian statehood, and there was no two-state solution in it. It was meant to introduce the Palestinian people in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza to self-government. And the idea was that the larger issues will be addressed in the future.

Now, the strange assumption behind that was that the Palestine Liberation Organization run by the master terrorist Yasser Arafat, would somehow agree to less than he had demanded all of his adult life, which was Palestine replacing Israel. It was foolish and misguided, but it was also part of the Post-Soviet Euphoria, end of history, visions of eternal American hegemony. That’s where Rabin was, that’s where President Clinton was but on the ground, there was no evidence ever that Arafat accepted the principle of a rump Palestinian autonomous region squeezed between Israel and Jordan and Egypt, all of which were hostile to it.

So in 2000, armed with American training and some American equipment, not weapons, but radios and other things that were very important to them, Arafat went to war. He started the second Intifada, what’s called the second Intifada Palestinian war against Israel. Because he couldn’t pretend anymore that this was going to end in the legitimization of Israel, he pulled out. The second Intifada killed a thousand Israelis. The US equivalent to that based on population is about 40,000 people. It is more than twelve nine-elevens in about four years. And that was the beginning of the divergence between the United States and Israel, because the United States continued along the Oslo principle, which were aiming for two states for two people, and they pursued the Palestinians. The Israelis had learned a lesson that was different.

In 2000 in Lebanon, Israel learned the lesson that leaving a place, leaving space, moving the IDF away from the people, it didn’t lessen the threat. Whether it was Lebanon or Judea and Samaria under [inaudible], it didn’t reduce the hostility of the people toward Israel, but rather it gave an opening to terrorists and terror militias and organizations to have more autonomy in building their forces. So Lebanon was the first clue, the Intifada was the second clue and if you needed a third clue, you got it in 2005 when the Israelis left the Gaza Strip in the disengagement. It was designed to tell the Palestinians that Israel was serious about Palestine’s future. But it was the same thing all over again. Leaving territory meant that Hamas was free to have a civil war with the PA, Palestinian Authority, which they did have, and which they won in 2007. And also, without the Jewish communities there, the people there, the traveling back and forth there, and the interaction there, and without the IDF there, Hamas was free to engage with Iran and import weapons and weapon technology. Yes, the Israelis set a blockade on Gaza, and the Israelis set a blockade on the Gaza airport. But Sinai was wide open for them at that time, no longer but wide open. So you asked the question, have they learned anything? Well, no. The US hasn’t learned anything. Two different answers. The US appears to have learned nothing. The Biden administration continues to push the two-state solution, continues to hold out for Palestinian statehood, despite the fact, by the way, that all of our Arab allies and friends in the Arab world, and I mean trading partners and friends, have stopped supporting the Palestinian Authority. They don’t give it money. They don’t give it political support.

President Trump was entirely correct when he said economic advancement, social relations, business relations would pave the way for a better future for everyone and the Palestinians could join that effort if they chose to. He was entirely right. They didn’t, now we have the Biden administration. So the US is where it was in 1993, more or less. Israel learned two things, however. First is don’t give up territory and don’t let Iran in the door. All of the militias that surround Israel are supported by Iran. And so what you see today is the IDF attempting to ensure that the Iranians do not get a serious foothold in Judean Samaria. They’ve got a foothold. There is no question that they are digging in there, and the IDF’s job is to dig them out.

Mahmoud Abbas is not helping, he doesn’t know how to help, he doesn’t want to help but the same thing that will protect Israeli is citizens which is Israel’s first obligation has a side effect of protecting Mahmoud Abbas. So whereas the United States does it because they want a two-state solution, Israel does it because it’s the only way to keep Iran out of the territory. And this is, first of all, where the US and Israel split. And this is the cause of a lot of the tension between the United States and Israel today. It’s not really about Bibi Netanyahu being the Prime Minister. It’s about a fundamental difference in why they want to preserve Mahmoud Abbas and the West Bank Palestinians Authority.

Sarah: Beautiful. Crystal clear, as usual. Thank you. So, as you know, Shoshana, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is now in his 19th year of a four-year elected term. He’s 88 years old and has had prostate cancer and two cardiac operations. According to a report in this week’s I24 News, a Lebanese newspaper, Akhbar, has stated that his health has deteriorated to such an extent that he cannot be moved even into the hospital. What is the future of the Palestinian Authority after Mahmoud Abbas dies? Who do you think will assume the mantle of leadership within the PA?

Shoshana: As an aside, I would point out that regardless of what I24 and Al-Akhbar have to say, Abbas just went to China. He didn’t look very good, I will say that. But he went to China and he shook Xi’s hand. And by the way, he issued a statement about the genocide of the Muslim Uighur people in Xinjiang, China’s problem, and said it’s not his problem. It is an internal affair of China and China is trying to stem the extremism and authoritarian role. It was rather disgusting, but she liked it. So I would say that Mahmoud Abbas had a more successful trip to China than did US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who came home with nothing. But to your real point, no one will assume the mantle. No one will follow Abbas. So this is your second question to me but in your third question to me, I have to explain to people that I’ve seen these questions.

But in the third question, Sarah provides the answer to the second question, and I’m going to share it with you. So, Abbas has not controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, and he doesn’t control Judean Samaria right now. Whatever control he maintains, as I said earlier, is a result of Israel determined not to let Iran invade the space. And because it isn’t controlled by him, it’s fracturing into what many societies that have tribal roots fracture into in the absence of a strong leadership tribal segments, group segments, ethnic segments, religious segments. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with tribal government. I have to say that tribal government can be a very successful way to manage social, political, and economic change. And in this case, you have terror groups as the tribal leadership or as the management of small groups and that is not obviously successful.

So you gave me the numbers, 71% of the public, 79% in the Gaza Strip, 66% in the West Bank say that they are in favor of forming armed groups such as the Lion’s Den and the Jenin Battalion. 23% are against it, 55% because they’re not stupid. 59% are worried that the formation of these groups could lead to clashes with the PA. Not so much they’re worried about Israel, they’re worried about the PA, but 80% of them say, in any event, the PA should not control these groups. And 86% say the PA should not stop these groups from attacking Israel. So what does this tell you? It tells you that, first of all, attacking Israel is the priority for most people. And that should tell you something about the two-state solution. I don’t have to say to this audience what that tells you.

But the other thing which is important for the moment is that more than half the people in all of the territories understand that civil war is a distinct possibility for them, that their tribal groups will fight Abbas, they will fight each other, Palestinian Islamic Jihad may fight Hamas. They know it, and they know that these people are attacking the structure of the PA, but they have no faith in the PA anyhow. It is repressive, it is corrupt, it is bloodthirsty. Well, bloodthirsty is fine as long as the blood is Jewish blood, right? That’s what they tell you. It’s okay to have these scars if they’re going to kill Jews but from their own point of view maybe they see the Lion’s Den and maybe they see the Jenin Battalion as their local protectors. If you live in Jenin, do you think that Jenin Battalion protects you? First of all, from the Israelis, maybe not, but also from the PA, I don’t know but it fits the pattern of what we do know. People are planning on fractured governance, they’re planning on lots of military activities. They’re planning on civil war. They don’t know if the Israelis will kill them but they surely have the idea that within their own people there’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. And I think that they are right.

Sarah: Okay, this is off the questions but you wrote an excellent piece for JNS. To what degree is this Israel’s responsibility when there’s international warfare among the various tribal factions of the Palestinian population?

Shoshana: So Israel has only one, I guess they have two. I don’t know. It’s hard to say how much responsibility it has but Israel has one primary responsibility, and that is the defense and security of the state of Israel and its citizens. That’s its job. Now, you can say to yourself, what is Judea and Samaria? What is Gaza? What is my responsibility as the Israeli government? What happens in those places? It’s really very complicated in international law because it’s not- despite what Kenneth Ross and all these [inaudible]. It is not occupied territory. It is not. This is what’s called disputed territory because the ownership has been disputed for a long time. The last actual government there was the Jordanian government, which was illegal. It was illegally occupying territory. So Israel does not have the obligations of a legal occupier. Israel does not have the lack of responsibility of an illegal occupier. Israel is in uncharted water here. So I think that what you really have is Israel will take its first responsibility first, protect the people. Second responsibility, keep Iran out, and if that requires getting rid of Lions Den, Jenin Battalion, even Kamas, at the end of the day, Israel will do what it takes to protect its people. That’s it. Not because it’s legally obligated, no, it isn’t but because that will enable them to do what they’re supposed to do.

Sarah: Yes. We see when Israel, today, they have made the decision to destroy the homes of the terrorists, and we see that for every action that Israel takes to defend itself against Iranian support in militias such as Kamas, Palestinian, Islamic Jihad, Lions Den it engenders more support amongst the Palestinian populations in the street for these terrorist groups. So how does Israelis respond then?

Shoshana: I’m going to disagree with you, this will be one of our rare disagreements there. I don’t think they are more hostile because Israel destroys terrorist houses or arrests or off terrorists. Palestinian people have unfortunately been indoctrinated in this hatred, marinated in this hatred for a really long time. And as a mutual friend of ours, Lenny Ben David has pulled out the Life Magazine cover from 1970 which shows small Palestinian children cute babies with little guns in their hands being taught to kill people. 1970 was a very long time ago. Generations of Palestinian children have been indoctrinated and now today you can see through memory, or you can see through Palestinian media watch the same thing is going on. These people do not stand a chance at forming an opinion of Israelis that isn’t steeped in the abuse that they’re receiving from their own people. So whatever Israel does, it cannot do any longer with the idea that if I’m nice to them, they’ll be nice to me, we’re beyond that stage.

And again, I’d say President Trump was right, that he offered in the beginning of the Abraham Accords, with the full acquiescence of the Israeli government that there would be a place at the table for the Palestinians should they choose to. But they don’t choose to. So whatever Israel does, it has to be done starting with “I have to protect my people. Yes, I sort of want to protect the Palestinian people. I don’t want to kill them. I don’t want to kill their babies. I don’t want to do this, but what do I have to do?” And the Palestinians have set up this conundrum knowing that if their children are killed Israel will be blamed. I don’t know what Israel does about that except protect their own children. I’m really a terrible pessimist at this point. And I don’t know, maybe your listeners are going to leave because I’m a pessimist. I’m saying that life is black, but in many ways, life is black.

Sarah: There is right now some bipartisan legislation out there to condition our aid on changing the unwrote textbooks. Do you think this is ever going to happen?

Shoshana: I think it might someday. I don’t know. Even the Europeans, by the way, are ahead of us on this. Understand the mechanism for the flow of money to the Palestinians. The Taylor Force Act was a very good mechanism for cutting off direct aid to the Palestinian Authority. We no longer give direct aid to the Palestinian Authority. That’s the good news. The bad news is it did not cut off US Aid to any of 10, 15, or a million organizations, groups, what do they call them, civil society groups, that claim to be helping Palestinians. And so, the Biden administration has taken all the money it wishes to give to the Palestinian Authority, and it’s given it to those groups. One of those groups is Anera. Anera writes the textbook. So we can have an impact on this. We need to tighten loopholes. Taylor Force has loopholes, I’m sorry to say. This bipartisan legislation on textbooks, if it has loopholes, we’ll be totally ineffective. I know that there’s a group on Capitol Hill also that’s re-looking at the Taylor Force loophole, and that’s an excellent thing because as long as we can shift money around and do it under the table and do it undercover Palestinian authority, and everybody else has no incentive to change what they do.

Sarah: Right. And now it is my supreme pleasure and honor to open it up to Hussein Aboubakr Mansour, who will handle some of the many questions that have been coming in. Hussein

Hussein: Thank you very much, Sarah, and thank you very much for all our audience who tuned in and sent us their different questions today. Thank you very much. Shoshana, we receive a lot of questions. And I’m going to start with one of the recurring questions that we received. Is there any possible political partner for Israel currently in the West Bank?

Shoshana: No. I’m being dark here. There are lots of very good people in the West Bank. There are lots of them. The Palestinian leadership in Hebron. There are lots of good people who work with Israel to maintain a semblance of decent political and economic and social life for the people of the territories. None of them have much power beyond their small spheres of influence. So when I say there’s no partner, there are lots of small partners, but there is no one that you can look to to say this person will inherit the mantle of Abu Mazen and will be able to control the whole of the territory and the whole of the relationship with Israel.

Hussein: And is there anything that Israel could do in order to help the emergence of a Palestinian force that is willing to negotiate with Israel?

Shoshana: The Israelis have made a practice and a policy of supporting those Palestinians with which it can do business, which is, as I say, a lot of people. You know 130,000 Palestinians cross the border every day between Judea, Samaria, and Israel proper. And they work in Israel and they get paid and they go home and they don’t blow things up, and they don’t hate Jews, and they don’t want to kill Jews, and they don’t kill Jews. There are another some thousands of Palestinians who work in Israeli businesses and communities in Judea and Samaria, same thing. They are not an organized political entity, and they are threatened every day by armed groups. So if you want to support those people as Israel does, the best you can do right now, I think, is give them jobs, give them help, give them protection, but they have no political power. And Israel can’t exactly set up a parliament of Palestinians to give them political power. No. Anyone who thinks Israel can do that is mistaken in the way things work. The armed people have the power.

Hussein: How about the new Abraham Accord partners of Israel, with the rising interest of many ruling elites in Arab countries in ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, why aren’t any of those governments acting as power brokers between the Palestinians and trying to help bring about this political change that we all need?

Shoshana: Well, as I said, the Abraham Accords was a mechanism for the Palestinians. Yes, it was a mechanism for the Israelis and the Arabs, and you can talk about the Abraham Accords, but essentially the Abraham Accords were the Arab states’ way of saying, “Look, we don’t want to do this anymore. We don’t want war with Israel. We want positive economic and social advancement. And hey, you guys can come in with us. You Palestinians can come in with us, and we will protect you in your entry into the Abraham Accords.” Abu Mazen didn’t take advantage of the gift he was given. The problem for the Arab states is that they don’t have a lot of leverage either. Saudi Arabia’s contribution to the Palestinian Authority is down by about 82% because they know it’s being stolen. They know it’s being used for militant things that they don’t approve of. There is no leverage. And anyway, what would you ask them to do? Saudi Arabia could say to Abu Mazen, “Look, before you die, perhaps you should make peace with Israel.” I don’t know how valid that would be. So, no, the Arab states provided a terrific mechanism for the Palestinians, Palestinians have no power to take it. And by the way, the United States is not helping here. They just canceled the next negative summit because they’re irritated with Israel. So they don’t want the Abraham Accords countries to sit around and have a conversation and they canceled the negative summit.

Hussein: Wasn’t it Morocco that canceled the summit?

Shoshana: The United States canceled the summit. If they used the vehicle of Morocco then they pressured the Moroccan government. The Moroccan government has a problem with the United States as well because in the Abraham Accords, the United States acted to Morocco’s claims to Western Sahara. Having looked at it, I think it was probably the right thing to do, but a lot of people don’t. And I suspect the Biden administration does not. And so there is a hammer over the head of the King of Morocco that if he doesn’t cooperate with the current administration, he could find himself in trouble with Western Sahara, again.

Sarah: I just want to interject there. Everybody was, or many people were so excited about the prospect of Saudi Arabia joining onto the Abraham Accords. And I just read last night that Saudi Arabia has canceled the direct flights for people that want to do the Hajj in Mecca, Madina from Tel Aviv. So all of these are not good signs, in terms of the robustness of the Abraham Accords.

Shoshana: But remembering that Saudi Arabia is not a member of the Abraham Accords, it was an adjunct to the Accord…

Sarah: Right. But this was supposed to be a sign of goodwill that they were going to open up air travel between Tel Aviv, and Riyadh or Jeddah.

Shoshana: The Saudis are under enormous pressure right now. The United States doesn’t like them and doesn’t like Israel. So one of two things was going to happen. Either the Saudis and the Israelis would get closer together, or they would get farther apart. I was hoping, we were hoping, you were hoping that this would bring them together. The problem is the Saudis need a superpower patron. They need a large power patron. I’m not 100% willing to say that China is a superpower, but it is a large power. It’s a commanding power because it has money, it wants Saudi oil, it has a specific place in the realm, and it was able to bring the Saudis and the Iranians together. The Saudis need that. They need quiet in Yemen. This is another conversation. This is a long way around saying that the Saudis want the Iranians to keep the Houthis under control so that Saudi Arabia is not attacked by the Houthi, Iranian proxy in the hill of its boot, and China was able to engineer that. So Saudi Arabia owes the United States at the moment nothing. China, yes, they do owe them something. And so rather than bringing Saudi Arabia and Israel closer, which we all had hoped, at least for the moment, it’s driven them farther apart. I don’t think that’s the end of the Saudi-Israel relationship. They are still talking, there is still coordination against things that they want to coordinate against and for. So it’s not yet over but for the moment, it’s stepped. Yes, it’s a bad thing.

Hussein: We’ve received a question asking you if you could actually discuss and explain to our audience about the Lion’s Den. Who are they and when did they start, and what is Israel doing about them?

Shoshana: Okay, remember that Jenin has always been the hotbed of terrorist activity. In 2002, the IDF entered Jenin in the middle of they what they called the second Intifada. And they went after the terrorists on the ground in a very big way. So the PLO immediately said the Israelis had killed thousands of civilians, and they buried them in mass graves and they set the mass graves on fire. Western reporters then discovered the truth, which was that there was a battle in Jenin between Palestinians and Israelis, they said about 52 Palestinian soldiers had been killed and about 23 IDF soldiers had been killed. That was 2002 in Jenin. Ever since then, Jenin has held the spot in Palestinian radical thinking as the capital of Palestinian radicalism, both militarily and ideologically. And there have always been small groups of radicals in Jenin ready to go out and kill Israelis, but also ready to go out and kill Palestinian authority troops. The Palestinian Authority has a police force that’s meant to take care of things like Jenin. It doesn’t operate because it can’t, and it’s afraid to. So Jenin has the history of building and growing these groups.

Now, Iran sends them weapons. How does Iran send weapons to the West Bank? So, I’ll tell an old story. At one point, I used to take groups of American military officers to Israel, sometimes to the Palestinian Authority also to Jordan. One year we were in Jordan, and this was probably, I don’t know, early 2000s, we went to see the Jordanian security forces. And the guy said to us, “Jordanian weapons face inward, we face into Jordan, and why American Generals went?” What does this mean? And the guy says, “Look, weapons come from Hezbollah in Lebanon. They go through Syria, both of which are Iranian allies and assets. They come down into Jordan because Jordan doesn’t have a great border security setup with Syria. Our job is to make sure those weapons do not go through Jordan and into the West Bank because that would allow Iran to grow in the West Bank, and we as Jordanians, do not want the Iranians in the West Bank any more than Israel does.” That’s what I learned from the Jordanian security forces in the early 2000s. They stopped doing it, stopped, can’t, don’t have the ability. So the weapons flow from Lebanon through Syria, through Jordan, to the West Bank goes on. And those weapons are Iranian weapons. And they have built the Lion’s Den. I don’t know why they call it the Lion’s Den. It sounds nasty. And they built the Jenin brigades with Iranian weapons and Palestinian indoctrination, and that’s where you get them.

And by the way, this tells you why the Israelis also protect the King of Jordan. No one wants to hear this. The reason the United States government does not demand, I mean, seriously demand the extradition of Ahlam al-Tamimi, which it should do, it will not do because it is afraid that the Jordanian government will fall, and it will fall through Iranian instigators. And Israel agrees, and that’s not a nice thing. But the success, the continuance of the Jordanian government under King Abdo II is important to Israel. The success of Abbu Mazen, the continuance of Abbu Mazen in the West Bank is important to Israel. But that’s where you get Jenin Brigades and Lions Den it’s Iranian.

Hussein: Speaking of Jordan, we actually received multiple questions on Jordan. In the case of the death of Abbas or his departure by any other means, a breakout of a civil war in the West Bank. First of all, wouldn’t this be destabilizing to the kingdom of Jordan and to Jordanian society given the fact that the majority of the residents of Jordan are of Palestinian descent? And how will Jordan react to such instability?

Shoshana: The King of Jordan will pray for the success of the IDF in keeping this on the West Bank and not allowing it to move into his kingdom. Remember that the Palestinians, PLO, I don’t know about the PA, but the PLO does not recognize the legitimacy of the Kingdom of Jordan, it is all Palestine for them. It’s not rivered to the sea. It is Iraqi border to the sea. They believe it’s theirs. In 1970, Black September, the Jordanians threw out the PLO because they were having an uprising against the King of Jordan. There’s never been any love loss between the Hashemite King whose roots are in Saudi Arabia, excuse me. His roots are in Arabia, and the Palestinians who want him out. So hostility in the West Bank, the Jordanians just pray it won’t flop over to the East Bank. I pray that they’re right.

Hussein: Thank you. We received a number of more questions about the Palestinians and their relations with their Arab neighbors. So I’m going to try to reorganize them in a way that makes sense in light of what we already spoke about. I think a lot of people have been acting on the assumption for a very long time that most of the funding that goes to the Palestinians, whether in the Middle East in order to do their various activities or for Palestinian activism groups in Western countries within the EU or the United States, come from major Arab donors, the wealthy oil monarchies. I think that’s been kind of the common wisdom for a very long time. But now we are seeing a decline of interest, a lack of support, or the end really of this kind of Arab wealth being funneled to the Palestinians. Where is the Palestinians getting the support from? And then there’s another question regarding Palestinian activism groups, Palestinian student groups, and pro-Palestinian faculty members that took over Middle East studies departments since the 1970s. Where now do they get their resources? Where do they get their support?

Shoshana: Okay, the first Gulf War, when the Palestinians were on Saddam’s side against Kuwait in the invasion of Kuwait, that was the beginning of the end of Arab country support for the Palestinians. Your questions are correct. The money does not come from the Arab states anymore, it comes primarily from the United States, Anera, and the European Union. Now, there are certain countries of the European Union that have withdrawn funds for certain projects. Norway, for example, no longer funds Palestinian Authority textbooks. Not truly EU does either. They’re now funded entirely by Anera. So the big sources of funding are the EU, Anera, and the US in various mechanisms. The US likes to fund civil society groups. That’s what we really like to do because we think that we’re building civil society for these people.

Europeans do it too. There are European funding mechanisms for Palestinian groups in Europe. There are people in Germany who fund Palestinian civil society groups in Germany. There are people trying to get rid of that. In every place that it happens, there are people trying to get rid of it. Who funds the academics? My guess is that civil society groups fund the academics. And you have in the United States now groups of American academics who want Palestinian academics here in our university system. And there is money in our university system to bring people here and do these things. So they do these things. I would love to know what university money is going to fund Palestinians [crosstalk].

Sarah: Right. We have a tremendous amount. I’ve done a lot of research on this…

Shoshana: I knew you had.

Sarah: Yes, that’s right. We have a tremendous amount of money coming in from the government of Qatar to fund Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins, Texas A&M. Really millions of dollars every year. And we’re actually doing some further research on this, but they might not be funding the Palestinian authority, but they are funding Jew-hatred in the United States to a tremendous extent.

Shoshana: And tell us, Sarah, who does Qatar fight for? [crosstak] If Qatar fights for Iran?

Sarah: Yes, for every terrorist group, every Iranian-backed terrorist group in Iran.

Shoshana: Iran? Qatar is Iran’s face to the civilized world where Iran cannot go Qatar can go. And the United States made a horrible mistake in looking at Qatar as not exactly a major non-NATO ally. They didn’t go that far, but they came almost to that point and considering Qatar as an allied country to the United States. No, it’s a little puppet regime for Iran. So as you have the evidence and the information about Qatari money, it’s not. It’s Iranian money as well. So there you have it. But all of this comes under the heading of civil society, growth autocracy, academic research, all kinds of things that sound very good to Western ears and all of which is perverted and stinky.

Hussein: Well, that’s a perfect segue to another question that we have. Well, what can we do to enhance or change the position of the Palestinians as the darlings of the left in Western institutions and cultural establishments?

Shoshana: Oh, heavens, that’s a political question. I’m not going to answer that question. If the Palestinians are the darlings of the left, then people should take that under advisement when they choose for whom to vote. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but there is something that people ought to do. And by the way, I think there are a lot of Democrats and Republicans who do not want to see terror groups funded. I know that this is a bipartisan thought. So where I would focus my concern is on getting rid of those loopholes and getting rid of Anera funding. Why are we funding Anera? Most refugees in the world are resettled by the UN, what are they called? [crosstalk] UNHCR…

Sarah: High Commission for Refugees.

Shoshana: High Commission for Refugees. The goal always was that the next generation of refugees will be citizens. So someplace on that would be good for them. Anera doesn’t do that, and Anera’s job is specifically not to do that. It is unclear to me why the United States should fund an organization whose goal is to maintain refugee status to grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Not just because it makes no sense, but because it is demeaning to those children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Who do we think we’re helping here? And why do we think we’re helping them? So I think we need to get out of Anera. We need to stop the loophole on the Taylor Force Act. We need to make sure there’s no loophole on the next act that is passed, that people look at and say, “Yes, well, that’s good.” And we also need to deal with our relationship with Qatar. So all of these things should be done. It’s not a question of who you vote for, it’s a question of what you ask your elected representatives to do. They are, after all, supposed to represent our interests. If we make our interests known to them, we would hope they would represent them.

Sarah: I couldn’t agree with you more, Shoshana. I just want to also make sure our listeners understand that Anera perpetuates the 1948 conflict. And it’s not about the 1967 conflict, about two states living side by side in peace and democracy. They are making sure that the recipients of Anera funding, they’re teaching them that they will eventually go back to their grandfathers’ orchards and vineyards in Haifa. And I think it’s really important that people understand who it is that our American taxpayers’ dollars are funding. And the United States pays the lion’s share of the funding for Anera and every other UN organization. So I think this is essential that people get that.

Shoshana: So here’s one that you might want to consider. Senator Mark Kirk, who was before that Congressman Mark Kirk, and in both of those incarnations, one of the great defenders of Israel on Capitol Hill. Starting as a congressman and then as a senator, Mark Kirk tried to get Anera to tell us how many original 1947, 48, 49 refugees were still living and how many people were descendants. And the reason for this, Kirk said is that “Yes, there is an obligation to those people. Those people, now they’re old, now they can’t take care of them. Say, yes, there’s an obligation. But then you have to calibrate that against the obligation to the other people.” He was stymied every time he brought this up. By whom? By Anera? No, by the US State Department. Why did the State Department tell Senator Kirk that the number was not to be given to him?

Well, they said because that prejudges that you don’t want to support these people, and Kirk said, “Yes, you’re right. I don’t want to support those people. I support the originals.” The State Department said, “Well, then you’re saying you don’t want a right of return.” And Mark Kirk would say, “That’s right. There is no right of return. It’s a non-existent, flimsy political excuse for indoctrinating people into hatred and other really evil things.” But Mark Kirk could never get the number. Now, there is a number. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State under Donald Trump, came up with a number, which I’m willing to accept, I guess because I have no choice. And it was in the under 200,000 range. I suspect it’s high, but Anera claims to take care of 5.9 million refugees. Mike Pompeo says that less than 200,000 of them are originals. The United States needs to recalibrate its money spending, it needs to recalibrate its goals. It needs to decide what it wants to do here. [crosstalk] So that’s your congressman.

Sarah: Right. The irony is, well, it’s not even an irony. It’s an egregious fact that Anera is the one refugee group that is dedicated not only to one specific refugee population but also in perpetuity. That means a descendant, a great-grandson, or daughter of the original 1948 refugee is still receiving a check from Anera at our taxpayers’ expense. I have a friend whose sister considers herself Palestinian, he doesn’t. It’s a long story. But she is a very highly-paid banker at Citibank, and she gets a check from Anera month. It’s just…

Shoshana: Okay, she’s a banker, she makes money. But it also needs to be said that one of the consequences of this is is that tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are trapped in what are called refugee camps, okay? They’re prisons. All right? One place in the Middle East that does not have prisons for Palestinians of that sort is Israel. There are no Palestinian refugee camps in Israel because the original 1948 refugees and their children and descendants are Israeli Arab citizens. But in Lebanon, in Syria, in Egypt, in Jordan, I forget where else, but a bunch of other places in Iraq, Palestinian descendants of the original refugees are not permitted to live outside the refugee camp. Now, if you can imagine, Israel just celebrated its 75th anniversary. Malthus tells you this is going to be exponential growth inside the Palestinians, they can’t get out. They’re imprisoned. And we pay for that. So we pay for the imprisonment of Palestinian people in open-air prisons in Arab countries. Is this something our government should be responsible for? No. We owe people simply as human beings something better than that. And I don’t mind saying we owe Palestinians of various generations better than to agree to their imprisonment in Lebanon. It’s Outrageous.

Hussein: Thank you. There was a question asking about the general geopolitical realignment and international realignment that are happening in the Middle East. There is a perception that the United States has deteriorating relationships with a lot of allies in the Middle East and that many of them are now reorienting towards diversifying their own power relations with various world powers, which is eroding a lot of the power and leverage the United States used to have in the Middle East. So here’s the question, what is the likelihood that Israel will eventually need to also align itself more closely with a different set of powers, China, Russia, and India, which is basically what other countries in the region are currently doing if the United States has a rapidly deteriorating relationship with Israel?

Shoshana: The United States, in my opinion, will always be Israel’s ally of first choice, by its democratic background, by its allegiance, as the US has allegiance to certain democratic principles, it is highly unlikely that Israel will throw over the United States for China or for Russia, or even for India. Now, in each of those three cases, for different reasons, Israel has good relations and should have good relations. India is a democratic country. Israel has very good relations with India, and I think will maintain them. Russia is an important country to Israel. It’s not a friend, it’s not an ally, it’s not a partner, it’s a country with which Israel has very good relations and needs those. First of all, because they’re Jews who live in Russia, and they live relatively well protected by the current government in Russia. But secondly, because Israel needs to maintain its freedom of operations in Syria.

And I would point out, by the way, that Russia is going to open a consulate in Jerusalem, which I find interesting. It’s not moving its embassy, but it’s opening a consulate in Jerusalem. China, excellent trading partner for Israel. A lot of things China wants to do with Israel. Israel wants to do with China. Israel is very mindful of the security implications of many of those things that China wants to do and Israel’s not going to do them because its security is aligned with the United States. And here, I would point out, by the way, Israel’s relationship to Cocom, the Central Commander of the United States Military, which operates in the Middle East, is outstanding. The commander of US Centcom, General Carrillo, has been in Israel, I think eight times since he became commander of Centcom in 2002. He likes Israel as a partner. He likes Israel to work with, he likes Israel’s. The security capabilities. All of that works extremely well. Israel is not trading that for China, for Russia, for India, for anybody. Politically Israel and the United States have hit a bit of a decline. I don’t think it’s permanent, and I don’t think it’s going to crash the gates, but you can expect Israel to maintain its relations with China, India, and Russia.

Hussein: Thank you. We have a question asking, do we know how much roughly does the United States government give to Anera annually?

Shoshana: Oh, there’s a number. Sarah, you must have that number. I don’t have it off the top of my head.

Sarah: I actually don’t have it off the top of my head either.

Shoshana: It’s a lot of money. We can agree. Sarah and I will agree. It’s a lot.

Sarah: It’s a lot of money.

Shoshana: It’s multiple millions of dollars. It’s multiple tens of millions of dollars. That’s a lot of money. I think the State Department report for money for the Palestinians, which I do believe includes Anera, it’s like $300 million last year.

Hussein: $300 million.

Shoshana: Okay. And Anera gets the other money because other countries contribute to it, and the UN general fund contributes to it. So Anera’s rolling in box.

Hussein: Yes. I think the number is in the hundreds of millions annually.

Shoshana: It is hundreds of millions.

Hussein: Yes, thank you. We have somebody else who was sending us from our audience, I guess about 344 million, which I think sounds right because I know for a fact since the Biden administration took office the number is over $600 million dollars. So that puts it around $340 annually. We have another question asking about the logic of Anera. Wouldn’t by the very logic of Anera be true to say that all of the living Jews that descend from Jews who used to live in Arab countries should ask for reparations from Egypt and Syria and Iraq and Yemen and ask for a right of return and return property?

Shoshana: So an Iraqi Jew was a friend of mine, says, “Never mention the right of return to those of us from the Arab world, because for two reasons. First of all, because it’s ridiculous. But secondly, because our attitude when we left.” And this is someone whose father left, so he’s very closely connected to it. “Our attitude when we left is we’re going to do the next thing, we’re not going back to do the other thing. So forget it.” But I will say that in the conversation of the Oslo Accords and later negotiations, President Bill Clinton said, there should be compensation to Palestinians who lost homes and farms in the creation of Israel and there should be compensation to the Jews who lost homes and properties in the expulsion from the Arab world. He was absolutely determined that the two were the same thing. That if one group of people should be compensated, the other group of people should be compensated. And yes, a claims mechanism should certainly exist. But going back, no, right of return, no, desire for Lebanese or Iraqi or Egyptian citizenship, no. On the other hand, I will say that there are plenty of Jews because Morocco has long been more amenable to having Jewish tourists than even Israeli tourists. There are plenty of Sephardic Jews and North African Jews who have chosen to take advantage of the opportunity to visit where their families lived. And I think that’s a great thing.

Sarah: Yes, but there’s a real distinction in [crosstalk] the psychology and we do not engage in the psychology and the politics of victimhood and grievance. Look at where Israel has gone in 75 years. We’re not sitting there and stewing. I am not asking to go back and get reparations from Europe for where my ancestors were expelled from and usually, the Iraqi Jews are not asking for reparations. They are going on and we’re living life with a vengeance and starting from scratch and building a beautiful state in the last 75 years. So…

Shoshana: Hence my Iraqi friend don’t mention it to us.

Sarah: Right.

Shoshana: Mechanism forward.

Hussein: I know that you’ve already made it clear multiple times how pessimistic you are, but since it’s a question from the audience, I’m going to ask it anyway. Do you actually think that there is any chance to actually achieve peace with the Palestinians at any point in time in the future?

Shoshana: So two years ago, for the first time, the German Luftwaffe flew with the Israeli Air Force over Israel. And I said to myself, “That’s the same Luftwaffe. That’s Germany. Germany is flying its Air Force over Israel. Did you ever, in your life, if you were a child of the Holocaust, a survivor of the Holocaust, a person who lost family in Holocaust, did you ever think that Germany would fly over Israel as an ally of Israel? No, you didn’t.” So, although I can’t imagine it today, I’m not crossing it out. I will not cross it out. Egypt led the charge against Israel for many years, for decades, to get rid of Israel. Saudi Arabia, to get rid of Israel. Jordan, to get rid of Israel. Yes, they did. They have come to a newer and better understanding. Now, how do you break the mental prison chains that the Palestinians live with? I don’t know. But I’m not willing to exit out. I think if you could find the Germans flying over Israel in their Air Force planes, you can find a mechanism. Not this generation maybe, by the way. And I wouldn’t have funded the 1944 Germans flying over Israel, but life goes on, as Sarah said, look forward, go forward, maybe.

Hussein: Thank you. The last question. I’m actually going to combine the number of questions that we’ve received about the issue of Iran specifically since it’s becoming extremely pressing every day. We have corrections about Saudi Arabia trying to make amends with Iran, the current Biden administration’s negotiations with the Iranians, and the possibility of an understanding or a deal between the United States and Iran currently that will leave Israel basically in a very disadvantageous position. What are your comments on all of this?

Shoshana: Iran is a problem. Iran needs a change of government. Iran needs to be made not to be a threat to the region. How do you get there? I think the United States is going the wrong way. The United States had been going the right way, starving Iran of cash, forbidding it from exporting oil, doing the things that could collapse the regime were the right answer at the time. We don’t do that anymore. We’re now giving them money. We’re throwing money at them. We’re throwing new relationships at them. By the way, the drones that the Russians have are Iranian drones, some of them have been captured by the Ukrainians. They have Chinese parts on them and we know when those Chinese parts were made, they were made in 2023 in this year, which means that Iran is importing from China weapon-related stuff.

We are doing nothing to stop them. My guess is that Israel will come to a point at which it says something bigger has to be done to stop these people. And it’s not necessarily a bomb on the Fordow nuclear plant. There are lots of ways that the Iranian government can be forced to change its trajectory. I don’t want to think of Israel doing it by itself, but I suspect that when push and shove come together, Israel is prepared to do it by itself. And that is a really depressing note on which to leave this conversation. So if you’ve got a real quick question that I can answer with a happy answer, I’ll be grateful. Otherwise dark times.

Sarah: I wish we had something more sanguine and optimistic to leave this. The one optimistic note is something that I’ve been focusing on a tremendous amount over the last nine months. And that is the brave dissidents in Iran that we should be supporting, 20,000 of which have been arrested, 500 of which we know of have been shot on the streets, seven hung in the town square, yet they keep protesting. And I think it behooves all of us as Americans to know about this. I am very disappointed that these people have not gotten enough airtime in our media and that most Americans are not aware these people are risking their very lives for democracy and freedom and we have not been supporting them. And I think this is such a wasted opportunity. And hopefully, our legislators should be doing more, and certainly, our major media should be writing about them. But if ever there was a reason for America, it is to be able to help people such as those who are imperiled and are risking their very lives for democracy to overthrow that brutal regime. So whatever we can do, just further word on that. If there was a velvet revolution, could you imagine how much better off not only Israel as the eastern outpost of Western democracy would be but the entire world would be.

Shoshana: Completely agree. And again, I’m going to throw cold water on you because this administration is more interested in finding agreement with the Mullah regime than highlighting the fact that they hung 192 people in May, seven of whom were women. Our commitment to women’s rights appears to have deserted us when it comes to the Mullahs. But call your legislators. There’s an optimistic point. Tell people what you want. Don’t just sit here and say- I know you don’t, Sarah, but people are watching. Call your legislator, tell them, “I’m not calling you about my taxes, here’s the thing that you can do for women’s rights, for human rights, for people’s rights, for Iran, for everything. Do this.”

Sarah: Yes. Right. Speaking of that, we are very much engaged in this issue every single day on Capitol Hill. And when we are not having our webinars, we are on Capitol Hill basically, and one of the things that we have been trying to impress upon our legislators is to have hearings. Especially about the human rights situation in Iran and how we are empowering Iran through these negotiations, which are continuing to this very day. As we all know, we were promised a longer and stronger deal, now we are promised many deals, whatever that means, and it will be a shorter and weaker deal which will only be used to empower and reinforce this brutal regime. So, this is kind of a plug for what we do at emit, and we really need your support. We are working really our guts out to try to get your message, the most important message of the folks on this call who are listening out there to our representatives. So if you like what you hear, please support Emit. And also, please support the Jewish Policy Center that has a gem of a human being that I adore, Shoshana Bryen, at its home. And I think both organizations are really worthy of your support. And with that, we’re going to call this to a close, but thank you all for listening today, and thank Shoshana Bryen of the Jewish Policy Center.

Shoshana: Thank you for the opportunity.

Sarah: Thank you. Bye.


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