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With Friends Like Us

On Wednesday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Obama to discuss, according to the White House schedule, “the situation in Gaza; developments related to Iran; and the international effort to combat ISIL.” The schedule effusively claimed that “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and our close consultations on a range of regional issues.”

We’ll never know the tenor of the private meetings between these men who have a famously prickly relationship. But if by the end of the day Bibi wasn’t saying (or at least thinking) that the Obama administration should shut the #&%@ up or perhaps perform some unnatural physical acts on themselves, he certainly should have been.

Because just a few hours after their meeting, in a response to a question about an Israeli plan to construct new “settlements” in East Jerusalem, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest offered a diatribe which one would have expected from an Israel-hating UN official if not from Palestinian Authority President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas himself: 

The United States is deeply concerned by reports that the Israeli government has moved forward with the planning process in a sensitive area of East Jerusalem. This step is contrary to Israeli’s stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians. And it would send a very troubling message if they were to proceed with tenders or construction in that area. This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations. It also would all into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

So much for close consultation and deep bonds.

Mr. Earnest, who continued on for another similarly incongruous paragraph, did not just speak these words; he read them. In other words, this was a carefully crafted statement of Obama administration policy. I imagine CAIR wrote the first draft.

Before considering Israel’s actions and the American response, a reminder of President Abbas’s speech at the United Nations a week ago is in order: Abbas said that Israel’s “war on Gaza” — the fact that Hamas terrorists were launching missiles at Israeli civilians somehow went unmentioned as did Israel’s efforts to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties — “destroy[ed] the remaining hopes for peace.” He called Israel a “racist occupying state” and accused it of “genocidal crime” and of “war crimes,” adding that “we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment.”

Using the too-willing human shield of Secretary of State John Kerry, Abbas claimed that Palestinians had engaged in peace negotiations “with open minds, in good faith and with a positive spirit” only to be let down by Israeli intransigence. This is, of course, laughable — believed by nobody other than Mr. Kerry and his boss.

Abbas’s predictable punchline to the sick joke that is Palestinian “negotiating”: “There is no meaning or value in negotiations for which the agreed objective is not ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the independence of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the entire Palestinian Territory occupied in the 1967 war.” Abbas added a reference to UN Resolution 194, a 1948 vote (prior to the admission of Israel into the UN) which calls for the return of refugees to their prior homes and for compensation to be paid to them.

(For a refutation of Mr. Abbas’s nonsense and a plain-spoken explanation of the risks and bad actors which plague the Middle East, Netanyahu’s UN speech is a must-read and a contrast to the other bad joke of the week, President Obama’s speech on that same stage in which he mentioned Ferguson, Missouri as an example of how “we too have failed to live up to our ideals.”)

In June, Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and the “moderate” Fatah (moderate meaning they’re comfortable murdering Jews later rather than now), which has control over the West Bank, agreed to a “unity government.” In other words, Abbas explicitly aligned himself with terrorists whose worldview, including a willingness to encourage civilian deaths among their own people for propaganda purposes, is all but identical to that of ISIS. In early July, Hamas launched nearly two months of missile strikes on Israel, targeting cities, towns, schools, and the country’s major airport.

At the UN, Abbas now offers Israel’s self-defense as an excuse to torpedo peace negotiations by calling for outcomes that are, to put it plainly, impossible — they would leave Israel as an indefensible territory overrun by so-called refugees whose massive influx would end the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, always the true goal of Palestinian political leaders.

Most victors in war take the losers’ land. Instead, Israel simply claimed a bit of land that it already owned for its own use.

And the Obama administration’s reaction is condemnation? Does Josh Earnest or the feckless president he represents actually believe that the “atmosphere” between the Palestinians and the Israelis has not been poisoned beyond any short-term repair by the Palestinians themselves? Do they believe that building apartments is the moral equivalent of firing mortars? Do they believe that any Arab government actually cares about the situation, much less is interested in a solution?

And perhaps most importantly, what is the message to the “international community” when the White House predicts — and incites — global condemnation of Israel’s move? It is a green light for diplomatic attacks and grandstanding, likely to encourage Abbas to move ahead with plans for international recognition of a Palestinian state separate from negotiations with Israel. The next step will be to propose Israeli government and military leaders for prosecution in the International Criminal Court with the result being even further damage to an already crippled peace process.

Yes, Israel’s move may be intended with political overtones although this settlement has been in planning for years and was first approved in 2012. Yes, it may be intended as symbolic punishment for attacking Israel — a rather gentle punishment considering the crime. And yes, the existence of this particular new group of over 2,600 housing units may, as one critic put it, “divide the potential Palestinian state and blocs the possibility to connect the Palestinian neighborhoods in south Jerusalem with the future Palestinian state.”

But when your opposition in negotiations is staking out the most extreme possible positions trying to force you to move even further towards them, it’s a rational strategy to say “two can play at that game.” If the Palestinians don’t like the fact that Israel has control over East Jerusalem, maybe they should have agreed to and honored a peace agreement in one of the many times Israel has offered dramatic concessions of “land for peace.”

They don’t because their goal is not peace; it is the eradication of Israel. Giving lip service to peace is a tactic based on the Islamic concept of al-Taqiyya, meaning dissimulation or deception, in which the evil in their hearts is given thin cover by forced smiles and handshakes and false suggestions of good faith.

This is not news. It is obvious to even casual observers of Islam and the Middle East who will not be surprised that Palestinian terrorists are now recruiting civilians, including children, into a new “popular army” for a future war with Israel.

Yet the Obama administration is willfully blind to the Palestinians’ true intent, which is as jihadist, anti-Western, anti-woman (Where are Sandra Fluke and NOW when you need them?) and anti-modern as every other Islamist organization on earth. Worse, the American government has become willing abettors of these fanatics who would murder every Jew if only they had the means.

A wise man, only half-joking, said to me that if Israel wanted to build settlements that would go unnoticed by the Obama administration, they should build them on the White House lawn.

Until that memorable ground-breaking ceremony, the chasm between Israel’s rational policies and the Obama administration’s implicit collaboration with terrorists and anti-Semites will continue to have destabilizing consequences as ill-conceived American rhetoric invites worldwide, and especially Palestinian, rashness and misbehavior. 

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