At last report, since violence erupted September 2000, more than 400 Israelis and 1,140 Palestinians have died. As the body count in Israel and the Occupied Territories rises, all is calm in the Beseiso family living room.
Meticulously clean and graced by elegant furniture, it’s typically American. Although ethnically Palestinian, the Beseisos are American. The man of the house, Muin, prepares tea at the dining room table. His son, Romey, who was born in Salt Lake City and speaks English with a booming American accent, reads. His teenage nephew, Samer, who grew up in Gaza and moved to Salt Lake City almost a year ago, sits quietly.
Samer’s mother, Lena, lives in Gaza. The family has kept in touch almost daily since hostilities began. Under Israeli curfew, Lena and her family could not leave home for three weeks. “It’s like a great, big prison. We’re living at their [Israel’s] mercy. They turn off our water when they want. They turn off the electricity if they want,” Lena said by phone from Gaza. “My children run down to the basement when they hear Apaches and F-16s. I had to send my son to America.”
The Beseiso home is a Muslim home. A relief of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque hangs above the sofa. Hanging from the fireplace is a framed verse from the Koran, written in Arabic. Translated, it reads, “I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn/From the mischief of created things/From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads.”
Muslim though they are, the Beseisos keep all three books of the great, monotheistic faiths on hand: the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Koran. Among Palestinian families, it’s not unusual for a Muslim family to own a Bible, or for a Christian family (some 10 to 15 percent of Palestinians are Christian) to keep a Koran. Muin’s wife, Najwa, thumbs through the family’s Arabic copy of the New Testament. She settles on a map of the Holy Land and remains silent, turning over memories in her mind. She makes one point clear before telling her account.
“I don’t want to use words like Jews and Jewish, because there are good, true Jewish people who are against what’s gone on in the past and what’s going on now. I would rather use the word ‘Zionist,’” Najwa said.
In 1948, her family lost their home in Yofa, now part of Israel. She wasn’t yet born when they made the trek to Gaza. These are stories her family told her later on. “There was no water, no food. People died on the way. My brother, who would have been two years older than me, died of an infection. We couldn’t afford medicine,” Najwa said.
It was into refugee life in Gaza that Najwa was born. United Nations relief provided water, bread and cheese. Her sisters went to school without shoes. The family lived in tents for three years. There was no work for her father. He made his way to Zerka, Jordan, where he established himself as a produce merchant. For two years he never saw his family. In Yofa, he’d owned olive groves and a gas station. All that, of course, was gone.
Eventually, the rest of the family gained passage to Jordan. “I remember like a dream the boat that took us out of Gaza and into Lebanon,” Najwa said. The vessel was so crowded, people had to throw their last belongings overboard to keep it from sinking.
From there it was a short stop into Syria and, finally, Zerka, just outside of Amman. Her father saved enough to build his family a two-bedroom house with two oil lamps. It was shared by Najwa’s eight brothers and sisters, her grandmother, and her parents. They had no beds, and barely enough to eat. With two changes of clothes per family member, her mother washed by hand daily so the family had something clean to wear.
When food got scarce the UN provided flour, rice, and milk. The milk gave infants the runs. Najwa’s mother crushed rice into a powder, then added it to the milk before her children drank it. In 1960, the family house got indoor electricity, plus a small radio.
“Only when I grew older did I realize the pressure my father put himself under, because he didn’t want us to live in a camp,” she said. “But even as much as we suffered, we didn’t suffer as much as the people in the camps, where the streets were mud, there was no plumbing in the kitchens, and four homes shared one bathroom on the street.”
When men sat in a circle to drink coffee, or women did laundry together, the talk was always about returning home. “All I heard was, ‘Tomorrow we will go back to Palestine,’” Najwa remembers.
Muin was 13 years old when his family fled Palestine. They owned a row of shops inside Beersheba, plus farms outside the village. As a favor, Muin’s mother lit the Sabbath candles for her Jewish neighbors when she was a little girl. That was before the Zionists arrived, before people started taking sides. When the shooting started in 1948, the family ran to safety in Hebron, now a West Bank village. “They used many ways to kick us out. They used shooting. They used tanks,” Muin remembers. “You had no time to take anything, you just ran for your life.”
Muin and Najwa married in Jordan. Then, in 1974 they made their way straight to Salt Lake City. Today, living in a nice house, the Beseisos feel blessed.
“It took us more than 50 years to get where we are now. It wasn’t easy. But my upbringing taught me a lot of things. It taught me to be strong. It taught me that if I went without something, the world would not end,” Najwa said.
After the 1948 war, the new nation of Israel increased its UN approved share from 56 to 77 percent of Palestine. Hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns were gone. Seventy percent of the Palestinian population, 700,000 people, became refugees in Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza strip, and the then-Jordanian territory of the West Bank. The new Israeli government did not let them return. Palestinian homes and property were declared “absent-present.” Under Israel’s Law on the Acquisitions of Absentee’s Property, they were turned over to wave after wave of Jewish immigrants. For the Zionists, it had been a war against the Arab nations for independence and a Jewish state.
“It wasn’t as if there had been in Palestine a Palestinian people that felt itself as such, and that we drove out to take its place,” said Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969. “They didn’t exist!”
History takes on different dimensions when you’re not the winner. For the Palestinians it was “al-Nakba,” the Disaster.
Sensing imminent attack by its Arab neighbors, in June 1967 Israel struck first, attacking Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Israel won. Known as the Six-Day War, it brought Jordanian-annexed East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Egypt’s Gaza strip and Sinai peninsula, and Syria’s Golan Heights under Israeli control. It also created, by UN estimate, 323,000 new refugees. In 1978, Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for Egypt’s diplomatic recognition of the Jewish state. The refugee problem went unaddressed. Today there are 1.57 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, 383,000 in Syria, and 376,000 in Lebanon.
Most Americans look at a Middle East map and assume all Arab nations are alike, all Arab cultures the same. They are not.
Palestinians have suffered at the hands of their supposed ethnic brothers. In Lebanon, Palestinians are not allowed to leave their camps. In 1982, Israeli soldiers watched as Lebanese Christian Phalangists massacred nearly 1,000 at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps. An Israeli investigation determined that the massacre was carried out with the knowledge and assistance of the Israeli army, and that General Ariel Sharon was primarily responsible. In 2001, the people of Israel elected him prime minister.
Many Americans look at lines marking the Occupied Territories on a map of Israel and assume Palestinians have full control of that land. They do not.
Under the Oslo Accords, Palestinians have full control over 18 percent of the West Bank. Before the recent violence, they had 75 percent of the Gaza strip—a small piece of land jam-packed with 825,000 refugees. The strip is perhaps the most densely populated place on earth, with Palestinians living in squalid camps and homes made of cinder block and corrugated metal. Now, with Israel building new roads and assuming new security zones, Palestinians have an estimated 60 percent of the strip. The Palestinians’ biggest complaint about the 1993 Oslo Accords was that while PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat was held responsible for acts against Israelis, Israel was not held accountable for violence committed on Palestinians by Jewish settlers. According to a 2001 U.S. State Department Report on human rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories, “There were credible reports that settlers killed at least 14 Palestinians during the year. Three Jewish extremist groups, believed to be associated with settlers, claimed responsibility for the killing of five other Palestinians, including an infant, in three separate attacks,” the report reads. “In general settlers rarely serve prison sentences if convicted of a crime against a Palestinian.”
The same report describes settler harassment against Palestinians. “Settlers also caused significant economic damage to Palestinians by attacking and damaging greenhouses and agricultural equipment, uprooting olive trees, and damaging other valuable goods,” it reads. “They were at times accompanied by Israeli soldiers whose standing orders are to protect, not arrest or restrain, Israeli civilians in the occupied territories.”
The Oslo agreement also made no restrictions on the future building of Jewish settlements in Occupied Territories. The West Bank is home to 200,000 settlers. There are 7,000 in Gaza. These settlements continue to grow, with financial assistance from the Israeli government. “Land for peace” has long been seen as the standard equation for calm in the region. Critics of the Palestinian Authority and Yasir Arafat contend that Israel’s 2000 Camp David offer of more than 90 percent of the West Bank was generous beyond belief. But it prohibited Palestinians from maintaining an army, denied them control of air space, and would have let Israel maintain a passage splitting the West Bank in half. Talks resumed January 2001 in Taba, Egypt. Israel’s second offer still denied the Palestinians an army. Things were falling apart anyway. In September 2000, Sharon made his incendiary visit to the Temple Mount (to Muslims, Haram Al-Sharif), a contentious place of sites holy to both Jews and Muslims. That’s when much of the current violence started. Prospects for a Palestinian homeland are bleak at best.
International law has almost routinely sided with Palestinians. In fact, the international community does not recognize Israel’s control over the West Bank and Gaza strip. Passed in November 1967, UN resolution 242 called for Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories it gained in 1967. UN resolution 338, passed in October 1973, reaffirmed resolution 242. The West Bank and Gaza strip remain occupied. The United States, wielding its UN veto power, has blocked at least 30 actions concerning Israel, including one calling for international peace keepers in the Occupied Territories.
Unemployment rates in the territories are beyond high: 30 percent in the West Bank, 48 percent in the Gaza strip. Palestinians pay taxes to Israel, and live under a regimen of curfews dictating when they can attend school and travel to work. They must carry Israeli-issued ID at all times.
Although American, Najwa feels the pain of losing her native country. “It’s one thing when you leave your country willingly to seek a better lifestyle,” she said. “But being forced to leave your country, brutally chased away from where you live, that’s different; and they—the Zionists—are still doing it.”
Tonight, here in the family living room, was the first time her son Romey and grandson Samer heard the details of her refugee childhood. Najwa lived with a father bitter over his family’s loss after 1948. She doesn’t want that kind of bitterness transferred into her family.
“It’s very hard to understand the suffering if you do not live there,” Najwa said. “But I do not teach my children to hate. If I wanted to teach them to hate, I could.”
Americans have heard for decades that Israel is our friend, the only democracy in the Middle East. The United States has treated the Jewish people far more admirably than European nations, home to the Holocaust, ghettos and pogroms. Movies like Fiddler on the Roof tell us who the Jews are as a people. We study Anne Frank, Primo Levi, and read Leon Uris’ novelization of Israel’s founding in Exodus. Christians and Jews feel a parallel bond. Among Evangelicals especially, the Jews are God’s “covenant people.” Israel is entitled to almost any action in the name of security. End of story. Criticizing Israel risks accusations of anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, the Arab and Muslim world seem so alien most hardly know where to begin. Over decades, America watched the Middle East with a bemused horror. The world watched in disgust as Palestinian terrorists killed 12 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. (Israel struck back, killing 200 Palestinians in refugee camps.) In 1980, the public was numb to headlines of Palestinian and Arab terrorist acts in France. When the United States sent troops into Lebanon after Israel’s 1982 invasion, 241 marines were killed. In 1985 the Palestinian Liberation Front hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro and threw an elderly, wheel-chaired, Jewish man overboard.
But apart from media profiles as terrorists, Arabs and Palestinians remain virtually nameless and faceless. There’s little in the way of popular media to tell us who the Arabs and Palestinians are as people. When Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinians praying at a Hebron mosque in February 1994, the year after the Oslo Peace Accords, the public never saw the faces of his innocent victims. He was called an “extremist,” not a “terrorist.” With the recent wave of suicide-bombing violence against Israeli civilians, however, Newsweek published 150 faces of 170 innocents killed. We look at them and imagine the lives they shared with their families. Across the page, we see 20 of the 66 Palestinian “human bombs” responsible for the carnage, jihad bandanas wrapped across their foreheads. The public has yet to see the faces of Palestinian innocents killed in Jenin during Israel’s operation “Defensive Wall.”
In Israel and the Occupied Territories, the tragic cycle of vengeance cuts both ways. Since Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration, it always has. That (in)famous document set forth “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” while simultaneously preserving “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.” The region has been dealing with the declaration’s inherent contradictions ever since.
The push for a Jewish state under the ideology of Zionism began as early as 1890, more than two decades before the Balfour Declaration. “A land without a people for a people without a land!” was Zionism’s rallying cry.
The West has routinely viewed Israel’s founding as a triumph over centuries of anti-Semitism that reached its climax with the Holocaust. Palestinians, who’d already lived under the heavy colonial thumbs of Turkey’s Ottoman empire and then the British empire, viewed it as the latest in a long line of oppressions. Only this time, the Zionists wanted possession of the land, not rule over it.
For a short time, U.S. government policy was understanding of the Palestinian situation. Under the principle of self-determination spelled out by President Woodrow Wilson, American policy maintained it was only right that people who’d long inhabited a land also govern that land. Wilson’s 1919 King-Crane Commission spelled it out quite clearly where Palestine was concerned:
“If that principle [self-determination] is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is to be done to Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine—nearly nine-tenths of the whole—are emphatically against the entire Zionist program. To subject a people so minded to unlimited immigration and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted, and of the peoples’ rights, though it kept within the form of law.”
Those words sound prophetic today, but were swept under the rug in the rush for Britain and France to maintain their old colonial interests in the Middle East under “protectorates” as defined by the new League of Nations. Even as the Arabs protested the League’s blessing of these protectorates, the British pressed the Balfour Declaration onto Palestine. Jewish immigration rose to 400,000. Arab labor was boycotted by Zionist settlers. Tensions rose. People started killing one another.
Then, WWII meant Britain had urgent need of oil. To get oil, you placate the Arab world. And at this point in the game, Britain courted Arab interests by putting a cap on Jewish immigration through the 1939 White Paper. The Paper also limited Zionist land sales in attempts to solve the problem of a growing landless population among Palestinians. Now it was their turn to be on the losing end. The Jewish population was furious.
Zionists formed two groups that, by virtue of their leaders, would resonate into Israel’s future. Menachem Begin, later a prime minister of Israel, led the Irgun. Yitzhak Shamir, who in 1980 would become Begin’s foreign minister and Israel’s prime minister in 1986, led LHI, or Fighters for the Freedom of Israel. The Irgun, under Begin, detonated a wing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. Ninety-one people died. The Irgun and LHI destroyed British rail systems, radar stations, aircraft and military installations, and oil refineries. They blew up whole bridges connecting Palestine with neighboring countries. Sensing that British minister Lord Boyne was anti-Zionist, LHI agents assassinated him.
The British were at war with Zionist terrorists who, by the end of 1946, had claimed 300 civilian lives. When the British convicted and held LHI and Irgun for their terrorist acts, British officers were taken hostage for their release.
Not even a United Nations mediator was safe. When Count Folke Bernadotte flew to Israel in June 1948 to broker a settlement plan between the Palestinians and Jews months after Israel declared statehood, LHI terrorists had him murdered in September. Israel hated his settlement proposal that Palestinian refugees, driven from their homes by war, be allowed safe return. Bernadotte’s murder was a bizarre irony. Head of the Swedish Red Cross, Bernadotte saved thousands from German concentration camps during WW II, many of them Jews.
“There are details in these events that people will quibble about, but among historians these are not controversial claims that anyone will deny,” said Dr. Ian Lustick, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a founder and past president of the Association for Israel Studies. “Most countries in the world were founded on violence. The United States is no exception. It certainly is a fair statement to say that Israel was founded on a great deal of violence, and sometimes violence involves actions which are designed to terrify populations. That certainly was well-documented in the Israeli army’s own assessments in the reasons behind the Arab’s flight from their homes in 1948.”
Palestinians remember the flight. They also remember massacres. The villages of Yehida, Naser Al-Din, Castel, Hulda, and Deir Mohsin were gutted. Americans learn about the war as a courageous Jewish stand against incredible odds, as Syrian, Iranian, Lebanese and Egyptian troops conspired to throw Israel back into the sea. But some historians, such as Israeli scholar and Oxford professor Avi Shlaim, eschew heroic embellishment in favor of recent findings that Golda Meir colluded with King Abdullah to keep Jordan out of the war, and rewarded him afterward with large portions of what’s now the West Bank. Jewish forces had Czechoslovakian weapons, and organizational prowess in the form of a Jewish Agency and labor organizations. They had a measure of military experience taking on the British. Simultaneously recovering from colonial rule and struggling with Jewish immigration, the Palestinians had no formal government or military reserves.
Fozi Quotob, nearing the age of 20 during the 1948 war, also notes that the Palestinians were, for the most part, unarmed.
“If the British found even a knife on a Palestinian, he would be put in jail,” Quotob remembers. “In 1947 my cousin was in jail one month because he was accused of having a pistol.”
Today, Quotob is a rustic old man, and an American citizen. More than 50 years ago, he was a refugee in Jordan after military shelling forced him, and his family, out of their five homes overlooking Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall. He still bears the scar of a wound on his left thigh.
“A motor shell came through the house and hit my leg, but luckily it didn’t go through to the bone,” Quotob said. “It was miserable as hell. A lot of us were killed. My brother-in-law was killed in his house along with seven other people.”
He made his way to America in 1956, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Iowa, his Master’s in Minnesota. He settled in Salt Lake City, working as an electrical engineer. “The decent, Mormon family life of the people who live here. I like that,” Quotob said.
A 1981 trip back to Jerusalem was a crushing disappointment. Quotob knew his old home was now part of the Israeli-controlled section of Jerusalem, but he was angered to be turned away at check-points. A Palestinian with an American passport is an Israeli soldier’s worst nightmare, he found out.
“I went there to show my children where I was born. We couldn’t even get in that district of Jerusalem,” Quotob remembers.
Of all the Palestinian villages cleared off the map in 1948, Deir Yassin, just outside of Jerusalem, is the most remembered. On April 9, 1948, Irgun forces struck down as many as 250 men, women and children. Whole families were shot. Hoping they’d be spared, old men dressed as women. Others were driven to Jerusalem for a victory parade, then driven back to the village where they were shot against a wall. The incident shocked Palestinians, because the village was committed to neutrality. From Tel Aviv, Irgun leader Begin wrote a congratulatory letter to his men: “As in Deir Yassin so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God Thou hast chosen us for conquest.”
Israeli historian Avi Shlaim notes: “More than any other single event, it [Deir Yassin] was responsible for breaking the spirit of the civilian population and setting into motion the mass exodus of Arabs from Palestine.”
Today, the village is known as Givat Shaul Beth. (Defenders of Israel, mindful of the region’s vicious score-board, point out that, in retaliation, Arabs killed a group of more than 20 Jewish doctors, nurses and patients.)
Lustick said it’s well documented that the Jewish army covered Arab homes with leaflets warning of massacres unless people got out. But the debate still rages as to whether Palestinians fled, or were forced out. “Both are true, but the real question is not how each Arab became a refugee, but how they became a refugee and were not allowed to come back,” Lustick said.
If any of this sounds shocking, it’s because the politics of war and displacement is shocking. History is written by the victors, the old adage goes. This history is rarely, if ever, told from the Palestinian view, much less a historian’s objective view.
“The American discussion of this issue is very far from the ways in which the rest of the world understands it. It’s our press and it’s our politicians that are behind the curve. These events are not new to scholars, and they’re not controversial,” Lustick said.
Scholars have noted that through sympathy elicited by the Holocaust, Jewish “terrorism” gained a respect Arab and Palestinian “terrorism” could not. The 1947 arrival of the ship Exodus, filled with 4,500 Holocaust survivors, at Palestine’s Haifa port was a turning point. British authorities turned it back to, of all places, Germany. Shock and outrage were immediate. Western opinion turned in Israel’s favor because it recognized Jewish suffering over that of Palestinians. More than one scholar has asserted that Israel gave Europe the opportunity to wash the Holocaust from its collective conscience. But it was the Palestinians who paid the bill for Europe’s crimes. They lost the ground under their feet.
We paid a heavy cost for someone else’s mistake,” said Maher Ramaileh. “Anyone with a conscience knows that the Holocaust was a great tragedy, but it shouldn’t be used to create further injustices. And you cannot call a Palestinian anti-Semitic. Both peoples are Semitic. It’s like two African-Americans arguing over who is blacker.”
A middle-aged man with resolute eyes, Ramaileh’s sentences move like a locomotive as he talks about growing up in Jerusalem. He’s seen his uncle, never indicted, put in jail after Israeli officials deemed him “a security risk.” His brother Naser was shot in the left hand and chest by Israeli soldiers, then jailed for two years at the age of 17. He, too, was never formally indicted of any crime.
In high school, Ramaileh worked in a factory assembling electric heaters. Then it was on to Egypt for college. But he’d always wanted to study in America. So in 1981 he left Jerusalem to earn a master’s at the University of Utah.
“Although I’d left my home, it was almost a relief walking around the New York airport. It was like being free,” he remembers. “You don’t have to worry about going to jail for six months if you’re caught by Israeli soldiers without your ID.”
He settled in Salt Lake City many years ago to start a family of his own, but talks weekly with his brothers and parents in Jerusalem. One brother, an accountant, must commute through five hours of check-points to get from Jerusalem to his job in Ramallah. Ramaileh laughs at the notion that Israel is democracy. His family watched as the Israeli government shut down two Palestinian newspapers—Alfajer (“The Dawn”) and Alshaeb (“The People”)—because they did not bring their articles to the Israeli government for pre-publication approval.
Under Israel’s “Law of Return,” anyone in the world with a Jewish mother or even grandparent can move to Israel and instantly have full rights of citizenship.
“I can trace my lineage in that land back generations, yet a Russian can get off a plane and instantly have more rights and privileges than me or my family,” Ramaileh points out. “Do you know how that makes a person feel?”
Israel argues it must be allowed to defend its security. Human rights reports on Israel from the U.S. State Department, such as this 1997 excerpt, describe possible defense tactics once a Palestinian is arrested, detained and interrogated: “forced standing or squatting for long periods of time; prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures; tying or chaining the detainee in contorted and painful positions; blows and beatings with fists, sticks and other instruments; confinement in small and often filthy spaces, sleep and food deprivation; threats against the detainee’s life or family … and violent ‘shaking.’”
The situation has changed somewhat. In an important September 1999 ruling, Israel’s High Court of Justice prohibited that kind of torture. Still, human rights organizations such as the Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, an Israeli organization monitoring conditions in the Occupied Territories, allege that such abuses continue. Most recently, there are allegations that the toes of Palestinian detainees are being broken, maiming them from walking.
When Israel’s security is at stake, Palestinians do not have property rights to their homes. Tony Azar, a 31-year-old engineer living in Salt Lake City, knows that first hand. His Christian family lives in Ramallah, and was there during the Israeli incursion. “My parents’ home was razed. Soldiers came in and told them they had 20 minutes to leave because they needed the home for security purposes. They left on foot to stay with my sister, and were almost hit twice by tank fire in the streets,” he said.
The litany of human rights abuses in the region is indeed dismal, said Marty Rosenbluth, Amnesty International’s specialist for Israel, the Occupied Territories, and the Palestinian Authority. Rosenbluth lived in Ramallah for seven years between 1985 and 1992. March 2001 was his most recent trip there.
“If a Palestinian is arrested, they’re subject to military law. If Israelis are arrested, they’re subject to civil law,” Rosenbluth said. “While it’s true that a lot of Palestinians live under the Palestinian authority, they still live under the security apparatus of Israel. This is something a lot of people don’t understand. It’s also hard to understand the daily indignities and humiliations that Palestinians go through under occupation unless you’ve been there and seen the situation.
“The U.S. media is very good at reporting acts of violence, but they’re not very good at reporting daily human rights’ violations,” Rosenbluth said. “Absolutely we need to condemn acts of violence, but we also need to condemn the human rights violations that are fueling the flame.”
Amnesty International pays equal attention to the abuses of armed Palestinians on Jewish settlers, and abuses carried out between Palestinians. Suspected collaborators for Israel are sometimes killed on the spot. The Israeli government, correctly so, has criticized the Palestinian Authority for not doing enough