What Trump gets right about cutting funding to Palestinian kids

Israeli children from Kibbutz Harel play football with Palestinian children in the Umm al-Kheir village, near the West Bank city of Hebron, in 2011. (photo: Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images)
As long as the Israeli military controls every aspect of Palestinian life, no soft-power program is going to make a dent in the deep anger that comes as a result.

By Daoud Kuttab | The Washington Post | Sep 19, 2018

You can do a lot to change the perception of Israelis who have only imaginary ideas of Palestinians. But for Palestinians who see soldiers and checkpoints and witness their parents being humiliated, no coexistence program for children could ever erase such tough images.

Of all the punitive and one-sided decisions that President Trump has taken against Palestinians this year, the latest one defunding cooperation programs between Palestinians and Israelis is one that I can support.

Following the cut of nearly $300 million in support to a UN agency providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees and $25 million to East Jerusalem hospitals, Washington announced the end of a program bringing Israeli and Palestinian children together.

The White House cut $10 million worth of funding to a so-called coexistence program that includes joint Palestinian and Israeli soccer games, farming efforts and other reconciliation projects. The Trump administration did the right thing. It makes little sense to pretend that things are normal in Palestine and Israel. It is illogical to fund a program that brings Israeli and Palestinian children to play soccer as if there is no occupation, no walls, no exclusive settlements for Jews or no siege on Gaza.

I am not against such projects in principle. After all, I worked on a Sesame Street project shortly after the Oslo Accords that had these same lofty goals. Our project, supported partially by USAID, failed to accomplish our joint coexistence goals. The current projects are destined to fail; you can’t talk about coexistence and pretend that everything is all fine when it is not.

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