February 1, 2020
HRH The Prince of Wales
Clarence House, London
Thank you for addressing world leaders on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Israel on January 23rd. I was most moved by your words that “we must be fearless in confronting falsehoods and resolute in resisting words and acts of violence.”
Given this strong and powerful message, I was surprised and disappointed with your words spoken and message conveyed during visit with Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, the very next day in Bethlehem.
The” falsehoods” that you called out the day prior are the ones that emanate from the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Abbas is currently in the 15th year of a 4-year elected term. He serves unchecked as a dictator without any accountability. He terrorizes his own people with limited freedom of speech and arrests those that associate with Jews or sells property to them.
Under his leadership, Christians now make up less than 2 percent of the population in Bethlehem once a dominant Christian community. The Christians are subjected to discrimination and suffer great difficulty in living in Bethlehem.
Mr. Abbas has operated unfettered with mismanagement of monies provided. Billions of dollars in aid from the US, EU and several other donor countries has flowed to Mr. Abbas. A lack of accountability and transparency from the Palestinian Authority has deprived Palestinians of a significant part of the funds while Mr. Abbas lives in a $20MM palace. Money has flowed into the hands of the greedy rather than into infrastructure, business development and welfare.
Beyond corruption, Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have used these funds to encourage violence. It is estimated in 2019 that $149.7 MM went for annual payments to security prisoners, terrorist “martyrs” and their families, encouraging people to kill Jews.
Instead of visiting with Mr. Abbas, I wished you had visited the sights of those killed by Mr. Abbas’ pay for slay program. I was in the region while you were there and made my commitment to bear witness where Ari Fuld (father of four), Dvir Sorek (an 18-year-old Yeshiva student) and teenagers Naftali, Gilad & Eyal were murdered. I saw young lives taken away simply because they were Jews. Those who murdered them, solely because they were Jews, were paid approximately three times the amount they would have made working a regular job. The ramifications of this pay to slay program are monumental. I can only imagine what you might do if this program were to take hold in Britain.
When you visited Bethlehem, you spoke there that “It breaks my heart… that we should continue to see so much suffering and division. No one arriving in Bethlehem today could miss the signs of continued hardship and the situation you face.” The suffering is due to the choices made by the Palestinian Authority but does not accurately describe the vibrancy that does exist in many areas.
I also saw those who have made great success in their lives. I visited towns with Muslims that had thriving industry, large homes and luxury cars. I saw people that have chosen to focus on success not terror.
I had the honor to hear from Daniel Birnbaum whose company, SodaStream, embodies cooperation across Arabs, Jews & Bedouins to great success. While driven out of this area by those who choose to Boycott, Divest & Sanction Israel, SodaSteam relocated to Rahat and provides a model of coexistence between Jews, Arabs & Bedouins. This is only one example of co-existence.
At a time when anti-Semitic activity is at an all-time high, your failure to call out Mr. Abbas on his dishonesty and incitement of violence ignites the flame that encourages hatred. Your words do not bring peace but dehumanize & minimize the lives of those brutally murdered.
At every opportunity, including the most recent by President Trump, Mr. Abbas has turned down plans to aid his people and create his own “Start Up Nation.” Mr. Abbas does not seek peace; he acts as a despot and seeks the destruction of the State of Israel.
Sir, we praise your family and your grandmother’s commitment to Jewish people at a most difficult time. However, at this juncture we must stand strong against hatred and stand firm on values of inherent democracy and decency.
Los Angeles, California