Having just returned from Israel, it pains me to see the photo of sweet 19-year-old Hadar Cohen. The life of this young woman serving in an Israeli Police Border Patrol unit was cut short in the line of duty, while protecting Jerusalemites from what could have been a massacre by heavily armed terrorists. Reading Naomi Ragen’s tribute to Hadar, I imagine that this young Israeli could have been the girlfriend of my younger son, a Penn State student.
I am also pained by the senselessness of the loss of young Arab lives, seeing the picture of smiling relaxed faces of three young Palestinian 20-something youths, hailed as martyrs by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, incited to kill and massacre.
During the High Holidays in September, when Mahmoud Abbas uttered lies of incitement — of Israel preparing to seize the Temple Mount, with calls to protect the “Noble Sanctuary” and “blessing the blood of martyrs” — I waited for condemnation from my country’s administration. Only a strong, firm, unequivocal condemnation would correct the direction that Abbas was preparing to take, to make another Palestinian war against Jews.
Secretary of State Kerry’s first reaction was not just to equivocate, but to blame Israel for settlement building. In fact, by inserting the topic of settlements, the US bears responsibility for upping the ante on Abbas’s declaration of incitement. The US pronouncement could easily be interpreted as a justification for Abbas’s intentions, and a go-ahead for further incitement. It took days for a delayed and tepid call to Abbas, and a minor scolding to tone down the rhetoric…on both sides.
I saw the results of Kerry’s “even-handedness.” With his perhaps wishful effort to appear fair, he empowered messages condoning violence by Abbas, and making Israelis more fearful for their personal safety. I was startled by the reaction of fear I heard from Israelis. If the goal of the US administration was to undermine the current government in Israel, they have only given Israelis more motivation to support it.
The reality is that Abbas’s incitement war has resulted in murdering scores more Jews then did the thousands of Hamas missiles during the 2014 Gaza War. There is no Iron Dome against a civilian population motivated to murder.
Perhaps there could have been a glimmer of hope in a February 1 JTA posting headlined Kerry stresses ending incitement in call with Abbas. But while the US State Department spokeswoman fed the talking points, the operational message was that “Kerry praised Abbas for a January 19 speech.”
What was in that speech? There were a few words of laughable crocodile tears: Abbas said, “We continue to suffer a lot because of the daily killing and slaughter; we are against murder and spilling the blood of any human being…” In Abbas’s perverted world, he promotes sending out martyrs, then complains of their being “slaughtered.”
The true message of the speech was one of Palestinian victimhood at the hands of Israel. He compared the plight of the Palestinians to the Armenian genocide and called for continued “resistance” against Israel. In words meant only for the duration of the January 19 speech he claimed “our resistance shall always remain peaceful.”
I would assume that Kerry is an intelligent diplomat. Did he not know that he was praising a speech calling for “resistance?” As Abba’s message was focused on claims of victimhood to justify Palestinian “resistance,” did Kerry believe that by cherry picking a few words that sound nice, he was not giving the go-ahead for further violence. Two weeks following that Abbas speech, we saw the murder of Hadar Cohen, and the Palestinian Authority heaping praise on three new martyrs.
The US administration needs to take a stand. Only a sustained firm, unequivocal condemnation of incitement, in all matters of speech, official media pronouncements and education of the youth, will stop Abbas’s directing the killing of Israelis. For the US to do otherwise it is a form of complicity in the murder of Jews.
As Sadat realized four decades ago, the only real path to peace is through Washington. The US uniquely has the power to stop Abbas, and enforce a redirection in the education of the Palestinian people, which it has not done yet. I do not want to see more pictures of murdered Jews like Hadar, nor the incitement of more young Palestinian killers, all their lives cut short too soon.
Golda Meir’s words still ring true, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us” and, I would add, when they don’t incite their kids to martyr themselves on missions to kill our kids.