September 17, 2004

Understanding Palestinian Poverty

Last week, HonestReporting issued Understanding Palestinian Poverty which faults Agence France-Presse for blaming the desperate state of the Palestinian economy entirely on Israel. HonestReport claims that "the primary reason for Palestinian poverty is irresponsible Palestinian leadership."

HonestReporting then quotes a World Bank report that states that Palestinians receive from donors the annual equivalent of "$310 per person - one of the highest per capita rates in the history of foreign assistance".(1)

Since HonestReporting's communique is specifically about the causes of Palestinian poverty, there is a much more relevant section of the same World Bank report which HonestReporting doesn't include in its communique:

The West Bank and Gaza has suffered one of the worst recessions in modern history. ... This crisis has resulted from restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people and goods, or closures, which the Government of Israel regards as essential to protecting its citizens from attacks by militants. Without major changes in this closure regime, however, the Palestinian economy will not revive, poverty and alienation will deepen." (emphasis added)
Since the World Bank has also decided to put the blame squarely on Israel's shoulders, perhaps HonestReporting should instigate a letter writing campaign against the World Bank also.

The European Union and terror

In an attempt to show that the EU is supporting terrorism with its financial support of the PA, HonestReporting points to a BBC article and states that "the PA had reimbursed $50,000 of monthly expenses to one of the deadliest terror groups, the Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades."

If HonestReporting had bothered to read even the first sentence of the BBC article, they would have found out that it states that the money was given as a bribe "to stop armed militants attacking Israel."

If they'd read a little further into the BBC article, they would have found out that the BBC report itself was dismissed by both Palestinian and Israeli officials (though, obviously for different reasons).

It's almost a joke that the sole source for this BBC report is a "former Palestinian minister".

HonestReporting's communique lists only one example of the "'compelling connection' between EU aid and funding of Palestinian terror" - and this is the one example they choose?

Will the real source please stand up?

Finally, consider the following sentence from the HonestReporting communique:

A recent International Monetary Fund report indicates that upwards to 8% ($135 million) of the PA's annual budget is handed out by Arafat 'at his sole discretion.'
Anyone reading that sentence would naturally think that the phrase "at his sole discretion" is a direct quote from the IMF report, expecially since HonestReporting contains a link directly to the IMF report in that very sentence. In fact, that phrase does not exist at all in the IMF report.

Initially, I thought HonestReporting had simply fabricated this quote, however I eventually discovered that they were quoting from a Frontpage magazine article they had linked to and quoted from two paragraphs earlier. The sentence from that article is:

Furthermore, the report revealed that at least 8 percent ($135 million) of the PA's annual budget of $1.08 billion is being spent by Arafat at his sole discretion.
Determining exactly who wrote what and what source is being quoted is almost impossible in some of HonestReporting's communiques. I can only wonder if this confusion is intentional or not.

(1) It's worth noting that the $3 billion that Israel receives from the US each year equates to around $475 per Israeli. This $3 billion annual figure does not even include US government loan guarantees to Israel, which have amounted to $9 billion dollars thus far this year.