The Obama administration’s reckless decision to abstain from voting on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 epitomizes the President’s long-running obsession with courting the Arab World—without considering the larger consequences. Even after nearly two terms in the Oval Office, the President clearly has not learned a basic lesson about the Middle East: Exempting the Palestinians from behavioral norms is a dangerous substitute for peace.
The Obama administration has apparently always hoped that halting Israeli settlement construction would pacify Palestinian aggression and pave the path for a negotiated outcome. Instead, this skewed approach has only encouraged the Palestinian Authority to pursue the religious and racial discrimination that US policy implicitly abets. It has also sanctioned the near-monopoly of power by a US-designated terrorist group, Hamas, in Gaza.
It has been painful to witness President Obama’s tolerance of Palestinian hatred and violence against Jews. Reluctant to make the case for Israel under Prime Minister Netanyahu, the President has complacently sanctified the Palestinians’ militant creed and stimulated criticism of Israel—a democratic country with Jewish character. One wonders whether such a savage assault on the interests of another racial group would be treated with such complacency.
No president should treat Palestinian terrorism as something that must be moderated, rather than terminated. Even a cursory inspection of Palestinian political discourse would reveal that an overwhelming majority considers supposed ideals about “two states for two people” wholly insufficient—and, further, that violence is not only necessary, but morally justified in order to defeat Israel.
And no, the claimed occupation has little to do with historical causation. Rather, the evocation is intended to establish culpability and guilt. But why should Israeli Jews, who have experienced profound discrimination, permit themselves to be morally blackmailed?
Nor will it help to view the plight of the Palestinians as the result of never having had the chance. Within that vicious worldview, any Palestinian success is seen as merely accidental and any failure as the inexorable result of being controlled by Israel. This culture of victimhood has a deadening effect—for without an ethos of responsibility, success becomes impossible to achieve.
Today, it remains vital for any aspiring Palestinian leader to renew the noxious indictment against Israel, because doing so has proved successful in the past. By cynically promoting their own inadequacies as supposed proof of Israel’s wrongdoing, the Palestinians have secured tangible and functionally irreversible concessions from Israel, all while bemoaning to the international community the alleged inferiority of the Israeli conscience.
Of course, the inability to bring about an equal outcome for Palestinians and Israelis is not, retrospectively, evidence of Israel’s failure to comply with its commitment to peace, as Palestinians, and now the Obama administration, would characterize it. But the Obama administration has tirelessly avoided a cultural explanation for the difference in outcomes, so it is left grasping at circumstantial ones. This is intellectual nihilism of the worst kind.
Frankly, not all cultures are compatible. Some, such as Judaism, inculcate attitudes and behaviors that leave their children better off. Others, quite simply, do not. While serving in the Israel Defense Forces, I recall once when a fellow soldier lost his riflescope during a winter training exercise. My company spent two days, crawling on hands and knees, until we found it buried in sludge. Why? Because that piece of equipment was paid for by the American taxpayer. Getting it back was a matter of hakarat hatov, showing appreciation.
In contrast, the Palestinian Authority provides funds it receives from the American taxpayer to families of terrorists, who have murdered and maimed innocent civilians, some of whom have been US citizens. This is not only shameful but self-defeating.
In any serious proposal, the Palestinians will be required to painstakingly choose between carrying out their civic duties and militant creed. To achieve peace, the US must continuously demand normal standards of behavior, without making exceptions—or excuses—for the Palestinians, who fall short.