Last week the Taylor Force Act passed a vote by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and will now move to the floor of the Senate. The bill calls on the State Department to cut funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA) should it fail to end the Pay for Slay program, in which they financially compensate the families of those who murder and commit other acts of violence against Israelis.
The bill passed the committee with 17 senators supporting it and four opposed. Those opposing the bill include senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Tom Udall (D-NM).
While the reasoning for Murphy and Booker’s opposition is still unclear, senators Udall and Merkley’s opposition is a bit easier to understand.According to the campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets, Udall’s third largest campaign donor is JStreetPAC, which provided him $38,250 last year. JStreetPAC donated $39,700 to Merkley’s campaign last year and is listed as his top contributor over the course of his career.
J Street bills itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace.” However, they have a long history of anti-Israel sentiments. Since its inception, J Street has proven itself little more than an anti-Israel pressure group. In the past, J Street has honored leaders of the boycott, divest, sanction movement, such as Mustafa Barghouti and Sara Benninga, and has opposed Israel’s right to defend itself.
J Street has been on record opposing the bill and lobbied against its passage. Last year in an interview with The Forward, J Street spokeswoman Jessica Rosenblum justified their lobbying efforts by claiming that the bill “would, in effect, zero out aid to the Palestinian Authority.”
The bill, named after a former U.S. Army officer murdered by a Palestinian terrorist, came out of committee at a time when the PA is pushing violent incitement. This incitement has resulted in riots and the death of numerous civilians. Recently, as they were celebrating Shabbat, the Solomon family was murdered in cold blood by a 19-year-old jihadist, Omar al-Abed, who claimed in a Facebook post that he was “going to die for Al-Aqsa.”
PA payouts to the families of murderers incentivize violence against Jews. Reports show that the PA’s “total expenditure for directly funding terror is 1.237 billion shekels or $355 million” for 2017. This includes al-Abed’s family, who will receive $3,120 per month for him murdering the Solomon family in cold blood.
To put this into perspective, the payout to al-Abed’s family is roughly equivalent to the yearly donations J Street made to these two senators who voted against the passage of this bill. While J Street’s lobbying efforts appear to have had negligible effect, it is imperative that special interests seeking to protect terror financing continue their decent into obscurity.