Occasionally it is possible to see a little way ahead and already it looks clear that 2014 is going to be an "annus horribilis" for the European Union [EU]. With voters going to the polls in May 2014 and the recent opinion polls showing not so much Eurosceptic as simply anti-EU parties in the lead in most major European countries, there will likely be a lot of things on the minds of the Eurocrats in the coming months: disaster emergency planning, location of escape-exits, pension and retirement plans to name but a few. But as the European tables look set to start turning, there is one thing that voters ought to keep right at the forefront of their minds.
There are many ways in which the EU displays a casual disregard for its distribution of taxpayers' money. But one of the most outrageous ways by far – with some very stiff competition – is the way in which the EU wastes taxpayers' money by giving huge lumps of it in aid to the Palestinian Authority [PA]. The laxity with which this is done and the uses to which much of that money is put highlights a problem which ought to make even the EU blush – and any decent taxpayer rebel.
Ignorance can be no excuse. In recent years a number of organizations and individuals have persistently highlighted the manner in which EU funding has been used to facilitate hate-materials and hate-teaching in Palestinian schools. Foremost among the organizations that have highlighted this has been Palestinian Media Watch [PMW], which has systematically and carefully collected and translated for wider English-speaking consumption the sort of language that is used routinely in the education sectors in Palestinian society. And as in the schools, so in the media. For EU money is also used to fund various Palestinian media outfits. And the diet of hatred they spew out is the stuff of legend. For instance, there is the aid money that goes to television stations such as that which PMW recently showed to be broadcasting material describing Jews as "rats" and "crows."
But it is not just in schools and the media that EU money has been put to such wildly inappropriate use. As highlighted before, perhaps the most appalling misuse of public funds has been the EU payment of salaries to the families of convicted terrorists. This issue of the EU payments of terrorist's salaries while the terrorists are in prison has been a not yet hot-enough potato for some time now. After the last round of exposure in 2012, some EU officials criticized the PA for using public monies in this way. But as PMW has just shown again, the response of PA officials to this is not only disrespectful towards the EU. It is openly contemptuous, derogatory, scornful and dismissive of the hand that is presuming to feed them.
As Palestinian Media Watch recently highlighted, in November alone the EU donated approximately 11 million euros to pay the salaries of PA government employees. And yet, in that same month, one PA minister has been shown openly to have mocked the uses to which the PA puts the EU money: In one appearance, the minister said about the EU's weak recent requests, "The Europeans want their money that comes to us to remain clean – not to go to families of those they claim to be terrorists. ... These [prisoners] are heroes."
PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake, speaking at a rally, defends the use of EU aid money to pay the "salaries" of imprisoned terrorists. (Image source: Palestinian Media Watch)
Or, as the head of the Prisoners' Club showed, the salaries to both government workers and prisoners are paid alongside one another:
"What is disbursed to the prisoners is exactly what is disbursed to me and you [a PA civil servant]. These are salaries. Therefore, when the salaries are paid to those working in [government] ministries and institutions, they will also be paid to the prisoners."
As this author has humbly pointed out many times, paying people to hate you and your values, and paying people to carry out acts of terrorism against your friends, is a strange use to which any private individual might choose to put his money. But for a government – and a supra-government at that – to use taxpayers' money in such a way is criminal.
If the EU does not mind being ignored and laughed at, it should at least consider the damage it has done to the very cause it presumes to support.
After all, as any trip around the West Bank will show you, the buildings that are brightest and best are the ones with nice EU (and USAID) logos on their side. The ministries and proto-ministries are all there. The public buildings needed to get the failed pre-state of Palestine off the ground are all around. And yet somehow something is missing. The cause of which partly lies in the fact that the PA allowed the EU and US to build all the infrastructure of a state for them. And while that proto-state was being built for them, the members of the PA focused its energies on building hatred.
It may well be the case that if any concern over all this exists in the minds of EU officials, it is far down on their list of priorities. And in one sense, who can blame them when the Eurozone is busy lurching from disaster to disaster? Well the answer is that later in the year we – the European public – gets to blame them. And later this year, we will get the chance to vote.