Amid a fresh wave of terrorism across Israel, the Biden administration is sending $100,000 in taxpayer funds to Palestinian groups that "promote diversity, equity, inclusion," the government announced last week.
The State Department will make available $100,000 for Palestinian government and non-profit groups through its "American-Palestinian Arts, Culture, and Sports Initiative." The funding is meant to "improve American-Palestinian relations" at a time when terrorists are wreaking havoc across Israel, including a series of rocket attacks this week by the Iran-funded Hamas militant group.
The State Department says it can help ease tensions by boosting engagement with the Palestinians and funding a range of programs that promote peace. "Special consideration" for the latest grant program "will be given to proposals that demonstrate how the program advances diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or accessibility with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, income, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or disability," the grant reads.
Those seeking to cash in on the funds will also have to demonstrate how they can "positively address issues of conflict resolution, mental health, resiliency, or trauma therapy through arts, culture, and/or sports."
The program is raising eyebrows among some former U.S. officials who say the Biden administration should not be rewarding the Palestinian government as terror factions murder Israelis in the streets and launch missiles at the Jewish state. Palestinian terrorists have gunned down several Israelis in the past month, including a British-Israeli family. Gaza-based militants also stepped up their operations this week, firing dozens of rockets into Israeli communities.
"The timing of the release of the grant opportunity is a bit tone deaf," said Bonnie Glick, former deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department organization that oversees funding in the Middle East.
Glick said all funds to Palestinians should be withheld to create an incentive for the government to end its support for terrorism.
"Withholding funds ... might allow Palestinian leaders to rethink their priorities and control, rather than incite, their restive population," Glick said.
When asked about the latest funding tranche, a State Department spokesman defended the program, saying that cultural initiatives are needed to help foster peace, even during times of heightened violence.
"Our Office of Palestinian Affairs is focused on engagement with and outreach to Palestinians, including through cultural affairs grants," the spokesman said. "Investing in civil society and people-to-people ties is a critical part of diplomatic outreach and efforts to promote peace, and even more imperative at times of heightened tensions."
But critics like Glick say these programs do not appear to be diffusing tensions. The Biden administration, upon first entering office, restarted millions in funding for UNRWA and other U.N. entities that had been cut off during the Trump administration due to their anti-Israel agenda.
"The Biden Administration’s massive funding of Palestinian-leaning entities like UNRWA and MEPPA should be more than enough to solidify American-Palestinian relations," Glick said, "and if not, maybe we need to examine the underlying basis of our relationship with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas before granting any further funds."