By Barry Rubin
Can the Obama Administration turn radicals into moderates with money?
Way back in 1979, shortly after the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said that people in the West didn’t understand revolutionary Islamism. “They think,” he explained, “the revolution is all about the price of watermelons. It isn’t.” In other words, this is an ideological cause not a money-making attempt where people can be bribed.
1. The Palestinian Case
On May 26, at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed a new plan. He wants to find $4 billion from investors. If he does this, he claims, the Palestinian economy will be doing great, people will be employed, and there will be peace.
Actually, this is a bribe to get the Palestinian Authority back to negotiations with Israel which would also mean, of course, that the Obama Administration can claim a foreign policy success. That’s $4 billion to buy a negotiations’process that will meet a few times and break down in deadlock, as has happened over 20 years under far better potential conditions and additional billions of dollars of aid to the Palestinians. The initiative is also intended to get the Palestinian Authority to drop plans to seek statehood at the UN; file cases against Israel at the World Court; and to try to join other international institutions as an independent state.
What should the money be spent on according to Kerry? Why on tourism! No doubt tourists are just lining up to go to the West Bank (they certainly aren’t going to go to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip where the rockets’ red glare has a different meaning).
Notice incidentally that these are not productive investments. Perhaps he could have proposed investment in green energy. After all, the West Bank has much better prospects for solar power than does the United States.
The supposed uses to which the money would be put further signals that this is a political bribe. If this money is found Kerry said the result would be to:
- “Increase the Palestinian GDP by as much as 50% over three years…and reduce unemployment by two-thirds…and increase the median wage by 40%.”
Should the secretary of state be talking on such a level of fantasy? Does a single one of his listeners believe this?
Tony Blair, to whom the tourism project was turned over by Kerry, has been the negotiator for the quartet for 11 years. Guess how many visits he has made to Jerusalem? Answer: 87. And basically he’s accomplished zero. Here is the short list of achievements that he even dares claim after 11 years, 87 trips, and vast amounts of money.
- “Experts believe that we can increase the Palestinian GDP by as much as 50% over three years. Their most optimistic estimates foresee enough new jobs to cut unemployment by nearly two-thirds — to 8%, down from 21% today — and to increase the median annual wage along with it, by as much as 40%….”