n a beautiful March evening in 2016, Taylor Force, a 28-year-old graduate of West Point who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was walking along the Tel Aviv boardwalk with some friends when he was brutally stabbed to death. His heartless killer, a 22-year-old Palestinian named Bashar Masalha, wounded ten other people in the course of his stabbing spree before he was shot dead by Israeli police.
Taylor’s parents, Stuart and Robbi Force, who live near Charleston, South Carolina, had two children; Tayor was their only son. Compounding their grief was the fact that their son’s murderer’s family was being rewarded monetarily for his murder. As they would soon learn, the Palestinian Authority spends $350 million a year, or about 7% of its total budget, paying terrorists and their families. This sum is roughly the same amount that the United States gives to the Palestinian Authority every year, which means that US taxpayers’ money is being used to reward killers and propagate terrorist acts. The person who brought these payments to the attention of Stuart and Robbi Force was a man named Sander Gerber, an Orthodox Jewish philanthropist who lives in Washington, DC.
Mr. and Mrs. Force and Mr. Sander Gerber have since partnered to lobby Congress to cut off US aid unless the Palestinian Authority stops subsidizing terrorism. A congressional bill named for Taylor, the Taylor Force Act, recently passed the House of Representatives and is now awaiting ratification by the Senate.
“Can you imagine growing up in a country where your government will pay you for killing someone else through a terrorist act?” asked South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the leading sponsor of the Senate legislation. “If you die as a terrorist, as a ‘martyr,’ your family will get an annual stipend greater than [what] the average Palestinian earns. In this case the terrorist who killed Taylor Force…was hailed as a hero. He was basically given a state funeral, and his family was given money by the state.
“[Taylor Force] was everything a parent could hope to have in a son,” he went on, “everything that a sister could hope to have in a brother…everything America could hope to have in one of their young people: a man who served our country in combat, who was dedicating his life to building up society rather than tearing it down.”
Under the PA, the longer terrorists are incarcerated and the worse their crimes, the more money they are paid. They are also exempted from paying tuition for government schooling and receive free healthcare if they serve five years in prison, or three years if the terrorist is a woman. And if someone dies as a “martyr,” his or her family will be paid a lifetime stipend.
These payments are not made in secrecy. They are actually laws on the books of the Palestinian Authority for anyone to see.
“Even the SS didn’t pay per head but the Palestinian Authority does, $350 million a year, in a society where the average income is only $4,300 annually,” Sander Gerber tells me. “There’s a false narrative that has persisted for decades, which is that Hamas is a terrorist organization while in the West Bank there’s a popular uprising. The Palestinian Authority wants to clamp down on that popular uprising, but the settlements are poking them in the eye and preventing them from stopping it. If there were peace, the PA could assert itself, but because of the ‘occupation’ it isn’t able to. Therefore, we need to work with the PA and strengthen them so they can clamp down on the uprising.