The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to figure out how the US could stop inadvertently funding attacks on civilians in Israel and Palestine. Given that, according to Human Rights Watch, the Israeli military regularly shoots Palestinian civilians and bombs civilian areas indiscriminately, you’d be justified in thinking the hearing included an examination of US military aid to Israel. But moral consistency can’t always be counted on in the halls of Congress, so this hearing focused exclusively on Palestinian violence, and specifically US funding of the Palestinian Authority given the PA’s policy of paying compensation to the families of Palestinians who are killed or imprisoned by Israel. There is legitimate concern here: The policy of family compensation does not exclude those who commit acts of terrorism. But because the Israeli justice system is notoriously unfair to the Palestinians, engages in mass arrests of Palestinians who engage in legitimate resistance to occupation, and often extracts confessions of alleged crimes through torture, it may not always be clear who is really guilty of terrorism and who is simply a victim of Israeli occupation. So who are the Palestinian witnesses who were at this hearing about Palestinian policy and US aid to the Palestinians? You guessed it, there were none.  It was just the former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, and neocon diplomat Elliott Abrams, who mischaracterized the PA’s policy as a conscious program of reward for terrorism. To be clear, we are all for ending US funding for terrorism, direct or otherwise. But it’s far more productive to engage the subject without excluding relevant perspectives or ignoring the violence inherent in decades of a brutal occupation.

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