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.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issues reports that rarely make headlines yet analyze as objectively as possible U.S. government programs. These reports are long (the one on the Palestinian Authority is 60 pages) and detailed. In other words, not many people will read them. Too bad.
One new report is "Palestinian Authority: U.S. Assistance Is Training and EquippingSecurity Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints." GAO-10-505, May 11. It recounts that the United States has spent $400 million to train, equip, and build facilities for PA security forces. Five battalions have already been trained and six more will be so in future. All the equipment supplied is non-lethal. U.S. money is also being used to create a Strategic Planning Directorate in the Palestinian ministry of interior.
There are some good reasons for this program, of course. Increasing the PA's ability to defeat any Hamas overthrow attempt is important, and a better PA security force can maintain order, thus allowing improvements in living standards and--in theory--lay a basis for peace.
Yet there are also considerable risks. The report says that the U.S. agencies "have not established clear and measurable outcome-based performance indicators" to assess progress. What's most important is that these relate to anything positive coming from the program:
"Targets they set to measure progress...focus on specific program outputs, such as the number of battalions or personnel trained and equipped, rather than on broader program outcomes such as helping the PA meet its Roadmap obligations to achieve the transformation of its security sector and create a professional, right-sized" security force.
What does this mean? Simply that there's no evidence that training is producing security forces more likely to block terrorism against Israel, repress (rather than join!) radical elements, or obey any orders from moderate Palestinian politicians (if they were ever to give such orders).
Let's face it: U.S.-trained forces are most likely to use their training and equipment in future to fight Israel in a third intifada than to use their power to assist a compromise negotiated settlement.
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!"