For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
In several of these notes I have described the United States as a laggard among wealthy democracies in its support of social services. Anti-tax individualism shows itself in one of the lowest indicators among this group of countries for government outlays as a percentage of national resources. President Obama's disappointment in health reform is only the most recent demonstration of a culture unfriendly to government programs. It is most apparent among Republicans, but it is far from absent among Democrats.
Now I am pleased to identify a significant departure from public sector stinginess. The American representative to the Palestine National Authority--Daniel Rubinstein--traveled to Bethlehem and announced another U.S. contribution, this time of $40 million, to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). According to the Palestine News Agency, "The United States is UNRWA's largest bilateral donor. In 2009, the United States provided over $267 million to UNRWA, including $116.2 million to its General Fund, $119.5 million to its West Bank/Gaza emergency programs, $30 million to emergency programs in Lebanon, and $2.2 million to assist other Palestinians in the region." Other Palestinians in the region are mostly those in Syria and Jordan. http://english.wafa.ps/?action=detail&id=13712
Yet another positive note in the story is the openness of the State Department to people with a name like Daniel Rubinstein. The 1940s was a long time ago.
Close to last in aid to its own citizens but first in aid to Palestinians is a mark of some distinction, but not clearly a positive mark. If any people demonstrate the folly of excessive public support it is Palestinians who have lived off their claim of being refugees through four generations and 60 years.
One can argue without end about the facts and the morality as the British Mandate for Palestine became Israel. Who did what, and who rejected what compromises are questions in the dustbin of history, along with who is responsible for African slavery, and which group may claim ownership over each part of North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and other places where migrations and bloody conquests began long before recorded history, and continued through much of the history that has been recorded. One can ponder the responsibility of Arab countries and the United Nations, along with Palestinians themselves and Israel for the maintenance of the refugee phenomenon. While individual Palestinians have left the camps and done well, UNRWA remains a vital part of Palestinian lives and international politics. Dependence is the name of the game, for the organization, the refugees, the politicians of Palestine and those of other countries who accuse only Israel of responsibility.
There is no better demonstration of the American mantra that aid breeds weakness, and cuts off individual initiative before it can develop.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"