The Washington Times reports that "Palestinian organizations are refusing to accept U.S. foreign aid this year, rather than sign a pledge promising that the money will not be used to support terrorism."
The paper then paraphrases James Zogby of the Arab American Institute saying that this refusal by Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to sign the pledge "should not be seen as support for terrorism, rather that in Palestinian society it is politically expedient to reject the funds than endure the tremendous political pressure they will face for signing the pledge. Zogby continues, in his own words: "This is not clearly understood in the United States. The idea of providing no ‘material support' is such a broad brush stroke, it compromises the ability of the humanitarian organizations to function." The reporter then paraphrases Zogby saying that "making Palestinian organizations judge who is and who is not a terrorist is a prescription for creating civil war in the Gaza Strip and West Bank."
Of note is that (1) signing the non-terrorism pledge, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development "is a worldwide requirement, not just for Palestinians" and (2) a majority of NGOs worldwide have signed it. Only Palestinian groups have made refusing to sign the pledge a matter of principle; and only spokesmen for the Palestinians, such as James Zogby, have publicly justified such a course of action. Let's hope Zogby is well-remunerated in return for spouting such vile apologetics. (January 8, 2004)