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Why do Palestinians Receive More Financial Aid Per Capita Than Others ?

by Rhonda Spivak, January 2, 2023


In his eye opening book to  Catch the Jew! , journalist Tuva Tenenbom , a Jew, who speaks German,  Hebrew,  and Arabic fluently, examined the issue of why Palestinians  receive all this aid, much of which is doled out through NGOs operating in the West Bank. Tenenbom disguised himself as a  Christian German reporter named Tobi, and interviewed many Israelis, Palestinians and Europeans who worked for NGOs in the West Bank. Tenenbom reported that there were  300 NGOs in the West Bank, a large number of which were European, and Germany was  the second largest investor in NGOs.


As one Palestinian woman  from Bethlehem told Tenenbom, “In Palestine the economy is NGO. Palestine is an NGO country...Almost nothing is manufactured here, nothing grows here or is produced here except for NGOs. That’s it.”  (at 149). Tenenbom found that all of the German NGOs were pro-Palestinian (at 163).


Throughout the book, Tenenbom searched for the answer of why Europeans give Palestinians so much financial assistance. Tenenbom even asked Gideon Levy, the far-left columnist for the Hebrew daily Ha’aretz why he thought the Europeans have been so interested in what transpires in Israel/Palestine. Levy, who  noted that Europe as a rule sides with the Palestinians, answered, “For one thing, you can’t ignore the past. In some European countries, I’m sure, and I’m talking about feelings they have in their sub-subconscious, there is this thinking; ‘if our victims [the Jews] are engaged in horrible acts, perhaps it’s not that bad what we have done to them.’ It makes the Europeans feel better and it compensates for their guilty feelings.”  (at 121)


Tenenbom also met PA  strongman Jibril Rajoub, the former head of the Palestinian Preventative Security Force, and asked him why Europeans cared so much about what’s going on in the Palestinian territories. Rajoub’s answer suggested that Europeans support Palestinians financially so that Palestinians do not engage in terrorist attacks on European soil, as Palestinians used to do. In other words, Europe gives money to NGOs supporting Palestinians as a means of protecting  their own citizenry from terror attacks. As Rajoub said, “How many terror attacks happened in Europe, even in Germany, as a result of this conflict? How many? How many planes were hijacked? How many people were killed? (at 178-179). 


The head of the EU Delegation to Israel  Lars Faaborg-Anderson told Tenenbom that the Europeans were especially interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because solving it is ‘absolutely essential” to achieving overall stability in the region. But Tenenbom did not buy this answer, and pointed out that there are many conflicts in the Middle East, such as in Syria or Libya, for example, that have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (at 363). The Sunni-Shi’a conflict also has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Moreover, subsequent to Tenenbom’s book being  written,  the Abraham Accords have been signed. The Accords arguably have proven that Israel can make peace with Arab countries, notwithstanding that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not been solved, thereby downgrading the centrality of the conflict in the region.


For Tenenbom, Europe  has an obsessive interest in Israel/Palestine. European NGOs and European  funded Israeli NGOs love to “catch the Jew”  doing something wrong to the Palestinians so they can broadcast it to the world. Proving that  Israelis are oppressing the Palestinians allows Europeans to once again indulge in Jew-hatred, which is the oldest hatred in the world. According to Tenenbom,  Europeans have a need to prove Israel guilty,  As Tenenbom points out, European countries have no analogous interest in any other country—for example, Turkey, which occupies another country (Cyprus) and which treats its minorities very poorly.


There are many examples of "catching the Jew" throughout Tenenbom's  book but one egregious one occurred when Tenenbom accompanied young Italians,  on a trip to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum. The Italians were brought to Israel by the EU-funded NGO Casa per la Pace Milano. The NGO hired Itamar Shapira, an Israeli citizen who defines himself as an “ex-Jew,” as its guide. Itamar portrays today’s Jews as  Nazis.


“In Israel today, Africans are being put into concentration camps,” Shapira told the Italians. When Shapira reached a section of the museum on the Final Solution, Shapira said to them: “What you see here is all from the eye of Jewish victims, this is after all a Jewish museum. But what you see here, with the Nazis and the Jews, is also happening today, in Palestine. What happens here in Israel is a Holocaust. Today, the Israeli army is doing the same thing...” 


Tendenbom’s book, which was written in 2015,  has received criticism from those who say, for example, that Tenenbom  neglected to mention that there are many Europeans who have taken Israel’s side in its conflict with the Arabs., for example, has been a close military ally of Israel).Although not everyone will agree with Tenenbom's explanation of why Europeans fund the Palestinians so extensively, his analysis does offer some food for thought.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.