If President Obama is serious about tackling the ever-elusive goal of achieving peace in the Middle East, he should start his efforts not by focusing on Israel or the Palestinians, but rather a little closer to home: Foggy Bottom.
Either through deliberate neglect or simple ineptitude, the State Department has made U.S. taxpayers complicit in perpetuating the single greatest impediment to Middle East peace: an increasingly radical Palestinian society that despises Israel and embraces terrorism.
Despite multiple government audits and several changes enacted in the law over the past few years, the State Department still cannot ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not subsidizing terrorists or underwriting terrorist propaganda in schools across the West Bank and Gaza. According to a critical report issued late last month by the Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, State has fallen short overseeing aid to Palestinians through both the U.S. Agency for International Development and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which administers Palestinian refugee camps.
What this means in practical terms is that many of the Palestinians who are consuming a steady diet of Islamist indoctrination and glorification of violence are receiving this brainwashing courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. It doesn’t require high-level deductions to predict how badly this wounds—if not outright kills—any hope for Palestinian society to embrace peaceful coexistence with a Jewish state of Israel.
Given the billions of dollars U.S. taxpayers have steered to the Palestinians—almost $600 million just last year—the United States has as much leverage as anyone to put a stop to this nonsense. Unfortunately, State has done a bit to improve matters, but not nearly enough.
The GAO report, which was requested in part because of Congressional concerns over reporting by this journalist in the Washington Times, indicates that State has dropped the ball on overseeing UNRWA. For example, existing U.S. law requires that UNRWA take “all possible measures” to prevent assistance from going to anyone who has engaged in any terrorist activity. State, however, “has not defined the key term ‘all possible measures’ or defined nonconformance.”
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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