Words matter

One could almost detect the smugness in White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s voice as he uttered those words last week after the Likud party received the most votes in Israel’s election.  It was impossible to escape the arrogance in his tone, or the malicious curl of his lips.  One did not detect disappointment, but rather the opposite.  Satisfaction.  And no rehearsed appearance of seriousness could erase the fact that this is something that was said with much relish.

He was referring to a couple of statements that Prime Minister Netanyahu said in the last couple of days of the election, including that no Palestinian state would be created under his leadership and that the Arabs were turning out in droves to vote.

In regard to those statements, I do not see any problem with Israel refusing to hand over some of their territory to the terrorist entities currently representing the Palestinian Authority leadership.  As for Arabs turning out in droves… I also thought it was badly worded.  That is their right as citizens of Israel.  Bibi did clarify later he was referring to the foreign funding that was encouraging the anti-Israel Arab parties who have MPs such as Haneen Zoabi, who does not consider the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last year as terror.

Interestingly, the Arab countries around Israel can rest assured that they’d never be accused of their citizens turning out in droves, because… well… they can’t vote democratically anyway!

But as much as Josh Earnest wants us all to believe that “words matter,” it only seems to matter when it refers to the Israel Prime Minister and not say…oh I don’t know… his boss Barack Obama for instance..?

For example on June 4th, 2008, Barack Obama said at an AIPAC conference the following words:  “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”  Those are strong words.  And if words matter so much, as Josh Earnest carefully articulated, then why did the same Barack Obama just one day later, after much criticism by the Arab world including Hamas and Abbas, backtrack and say in an interview on CNN that the status of Jerusalem would need to be part of negotiations.  Are we supposed to believe that his words on Jerusalem didn’t matter?

Or how about Mahmoud Abbas, who stood on the podium of the United Nations and accused Israel of genocide in last year’s war in Gaza.  Those were strong words too.  Words, fuelled by lies and dripping with hatred.  Did those words matter?  Because as far as I can tell, I don’t see the US administration putting any sustained pressure on Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.

And then of course, there’s Iran who time and time again have threatened to wipe Israel off the map.  They’ve accused Israel of being a ‘tumour’ that must be eliminated.  These are also mighty strong words, but do they matter?  According to Josh Earnest, words matter!  And yet… America is quite happily negotiating with Iran… seemingly finding no issue with their threats to eliminate a strong American ally in the Middle East.

How about cartoons?  Do they matter, because Iran holds an annual Holocaust Cartoon Competition for Holocaust denial.  And yet… no pressure has been placed on them…

So Josh Earnest, I agree with you that words matter, but it seems that you don’t agree with yourself.  You fail to acknowledge the words of Iran that threatens to destroy Israel.  You fail to acknowledge the words of Abbas – the so called negotiating partner of Israel – the one that doesn’t recognise the Jewish state.  You even fail to acknowledge your own boss’s words on Jerusalem!

Words do matter, Josh Earnest.  And although many words come to mind, there is only one I’m thinking of right now.


About the Author
Justin Amler is a South African born, Melbourne based writer who has lived in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.