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Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Blaming the victim and taking credit for it

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, today:
"Indeed, the government, Sunday, decided to spend 50 million shekels buying medical equipment -- 50 million shekels, about $11 million -- for the time being, to buy medical equipment and drugs needed for the hospitals in Gaza. And as I said during the Cabinet meeting, we will spend any amount of money needed in order to save lives of innocent Palestinians suffering from the indifference of their government."
Before I get to the principles involved, let's note the number. A lot of people are under the impression that Israel withheld $55 million dollars (not shekels) from the Palestinians that it collects in taxes on behalf of the Palestinians. But that's not true. Israel collects $55 million a month in Palestinian taxes; I can't find the total it has withheld thus far anywhere, but it is certainly more than $55 million, or more than 250 million shekels. And now, magnanimously, Israel is going to take less than 20% of the Palestinian money it has effectively stolen from the Palestinian people, and decide on their behalf what the best use is for that money and buy it "for" them.

As for the idea that the Palestinians who are already dying due to lack of drugs are doing so due to the "indifference of their government," perhaps Mr. Olmert will explain why this crisis erupted precisely in response to Israel's withholding of Palestinian funds. Perhaps he might also explain why he thinks that those innocent Palestinians that he claims to care so much about are expendable when they happen to be driving in a car near the target of an Israeli missile assassination.

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