By MICHAEL FREUND—
This past Sunday, some 50 nations from around the world gathered for a major donor conference aimed at raising billions of dollars to tackle what organizers described as an urgent humanitarian predicament.
A host of prominent figures, including UN Secretary- General Ban Ki Moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende all set aside time in their busy schedules to attend the gathering, underlining its importance to much of the international community.
And just what, you might be wondering, was the pressing issue that prompted such extensive and concerted action? Well, it wasn’t the mounting Ebola crisis, which has already killed thousands in western Africa and threatens to take the lives of many more. Nor was it the growing disaster confronting Syrian refugees, over 2.3 million of whom have fled to other countries to escape fighting at home.
Believe it or not, the vital topic on the agenda was to raise money to rebuild parts of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
That’s right, despite the Islamist terrorist group’s cynical use of the area as a launching pad for thousands of rocket attacks against Israel, Western powers and others have rushed to open their checkbooks to help with reconstruction.
This is morally obtuse, politically obscene and strategically oblivious behavior, and Israel should loudly and forcefully protest against it.
Consider the following. At the Gaza donor conference, which was held in Cairo, a whopping $5.4 billion was pledged, half of which will go towards rebuilding efforts while the rest will be used to sustain the budget of the Palestinian Authority, which now includes Hamas, through 2017.
In other words, even though the Palestinians siphoned off previous aid and used it to prepare for war with Israel, they are once again becoming recipients of Western largesse.
Needless to say, the funds pledged are not contingent on Hamas disarmament, nor will any demands be made of the terrorist group to cease building tunnels to try and burrow into Israel and murder innocent civilians.
Worse yet, by alleviating the humanitarian difficulties confronting Gaza residents, the international community is effectively reducing popular pressure on Hamas to refrain from sparking another conflict and mitigating popular anger against the terrorist group.
Indeed, the decision to funnel billions to Gaza is so dramatically short-sighted, and so remarkably stupid, that it makes one wonder if Europe and the Obama administration even understand what their own interests are. After all, why on earth would they want to assist Hamas, even indirectly, to strengthen its position vis-à-vis the Palestinian population? The inanity at work here is even more pronounced when one considers that the United Nations has been having difficulty raising just $1b. to fight Ebola.
Although the disease has killed more than 4,000 people and spread to at least seven countries, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said on Friday that just $250 million – a mere one-quarter of the amount needed – has been raised thus far. “I now appeal to all member states to act generously and swiftly,” Eliasson said, adding that, “Speed is of the essence. A contribution within days is more important than a larger contribution within weeks.”
And so, even though the number of Ebola cases is reportedly doubling every three to four weeks, billions of dollars will be lavished on Gaza rather than on the jeopardized populations of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Similarly, a recent donor conference in Washington aimed at combating cholera in Haiti, which has killed more than 8,000 people and infected 700,000 others, raised just $52.5m. out of the $400m. needed for the program’s first two years.
And just last month, Ertharin Cousin, the head of the World Food Program, said that because of funding shortages, the organization has had to reduce food rations and distributions.
“We’re going to need to cut rations to those people we’re supporting inside Syria and to cut the size of the vouchers to those Syrians who are refugees outside Syria,” Cousin told the Associated Press (September 23).
Clearly, the money that countries can afford to spend on humanitarian crises is not unlimited, so hard choices often have to be made. But no reasonable moral calculus can justify prioritizing the reconstruction of Gaza apartment buildings over preventing an Ebola epidemic that threatens millions of people.
To be fair, some countries, such as the US, are spending money to combat the disease in other ways, outside the purview of the United Nations.
But what John Kerry and others fail to appreciate is that every dollar they are pouring into Gaza is a dollar that can best be spent saving lives elsewhere.
Rather than strengthening Hamas’s hand, they should be looking to rally international support to stem Ebola before it is too late.
In the meantime, however, thousands of Africans will inexplicably continue to perish while Palestinian contractors and Hamas terrorists in Gaza reap the benefits.