Ambassador Michael Oren, in Ally, his summer 2015 exposé on the US-Israel relationship, tells a riveting story about the US involvement in saving the lives of Israeli diplomats as the Cairo Israel Embassy was taken over by rioters.
As violence erupted in Cairo, Egypt, “rioters on September 9 returned en masse to the Israeli embassy, took sledgehammers to a newly built protective wall, and stormed to the upper stories.” The situation looked bleak for the six trapped diplomats, including Israeli security personnel. “The (Egyptian) army, though present at the scene, watched impassively, while its generals simply refused to answer their phones.”
Oren describes the horrible potential scene of “highly trained (Israeli security, who) would surely shoot the first intruders…until their ammunition ran out.” “Dozens would be shot…and the Israelis dismembered.”
Only with the personal, unambiguous and forceful intervention of President Obama, and the heroic efforts of US Ambassador to Egypt, Anne Paterson, were the Israeli diplomatic corps saved at the last moment by the Egyptian Special Forces.
Contrast this to what is currently going on with President Abbas, his Palestinian Authority pronouncements, and the killings in Israel with the incitement of the “Second Al Aqsa Intifada.”
Let’s go back to 2000. There was guarded optimism in the air as President Clinton met with Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak at Camp David in the summer of 2000 for peace negotiations, followed by the mid-October Sharm El Sheikh Summit.
To my mind, like the attack on Pearl Harbor, all the while Abbas’s mentor, Yasser Arafat, was meeting deceptively with President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak, he was devising a war against Israel. The First “Al Aqsa Intifada,” also known as the “Second Intifada” was a Palestinian war against Israel. It lasted five years, and more than 1,100 Israelis were brutally murdered, 78% of whom were non-combatants, (International Institute for Counter-Terrorism) in a hellish PLO campaign directed at Israeli civilians, against mothers and children. PLO officials admitted that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount was just the anticipated Israeli action to be used as the pretext for a planned conflict.
Note that the seizing of the Karine A, the Iranian PLO arms shipment on January 3, 2002 was preceded by 14 months of negotiations with the Iranians that began in October 2000 by Adel Mughrabi (aka Adel Salameh), a former member of Yasser Arafat’s staff.
Fast forward to September 16, 2015, to Abbas’s inauguration of the “Second Al Aqsa Intifada,” when in Arabic he incites, with the call for blood: “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah….” “The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours…and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”
Like others, I waited for world condemnation, and particularly a strong message from my government. The clear pronouncements of impending violence from Abbas were lost in the conference rooms of the White House. Abbas understood that he received another “pass” on accountability for his actions of active incitement. The direct consequence is that killings on the streets of Jerusalem and throughout Israel have begun in earnest over these last two weeks.
Like the lesson learned in Cairo, 2011, only when our president takes a strong, unambiguous stand will the Abbas-directed incitement and killings end. Until then, the “Second Al Aqsa Intifada” will continue.
The next move is in the hands of President Obama. I pray that he will be unambiguous, and immediately hold Abbas accountable for his actions. This is not a case of moral equivalency. The incitement is coming from one direction only.
Perhaps our president will realize that when Abbas and others are held accountable — in no uncertain terms — the president’s goals towards resolutions of conflicts will have a better chance of success.