A Disturbing Double Standard
Afghan President Hamid Karzi has recently authorized the release of 72 prisoners, regarded as a threat to the security of the United States. The State Department has vociferously objected to that decision. On Thursday, Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman said, "These 72 detainees are dangerous criminals against whom there is strong evidence linking them to terror-related crimes, including the use of improvised explosive devises, the largest killer of Afghan civilians."
White House spokesman Jay Carney added, "We are very concerned about the release of any detainees who would pose a threat to U.S. forces."
Yet, just in order to get the Palestinian Authority to deign to sit down at the negotiating table with Israel, the United States pressured the Israelis to release 104 terrorists, all of whom are responsible for the most heinous crimes imaginable. It is an absolute fallacy to believe that the terrorists that murder Israeli or American Jews on the streets of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv are any less a threat to the survival of Western civilization as we know it, then those released on the streets of Afghanistan.
Any one of them, whether they be from a Sunni Islamic group such as Al Qaeda, Hamas, Fatah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or Ansar al Sharia, or a Shiite Islamic group such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Al Quds Force of Hizb'allah, delights equally in the murder of either American or Israeli civilians. Not to believe this is to make a distinction without a difference.
On August 9th, 2001, Malki Roth, a 15-year-old American citizen, went to eat pizza in the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. Malki was a beautiful, vivacious young girl, an accomplished violinist, who wanted to devote her life to special education. Malki was profoundly affected by having a younger sister with severe learning disabilities, and wanted to do something to help those who were less fortunate than she.
Unfortunately, Malki's dream of teaching learning disabled children was not meant to be. Her life was cut short when she sat down to eat pizza that day. A suicide bomber, Izz al Dehn Shuhail al Massri, blew himself up, killing 15 others and wounding 130. The person who orchestrated and planned that attack, AhlamTamimi, was released in an earlier prisoner exchange, and was welcomed home as a conquering hero. She now lives in Jordan where she has her own, Hamas-sponsored television show.
In a YouTube clip translated by MEMRI, AhlamTamimi actually boasts about the act.
This is a product of the culture of incitement and hatred that has metastasized throughout the body politic of the Palestinians, and has spread throughout much of the Muslim and Arab world. The United States bears much of the responsibility for this by willfully blinding itself to this fact, and by reinforcing the growing sense of Palestinian triumphalism by insisting upon these prisoner releases.
Oslo, Hebron, Wye, the Roadmap to Peace in the Middle East, and all subsequent agreements had always been predicated around one concept: Israel was to exchange something very real and tangible, land, for the end of terrorism and the end of incitement to terrorism. Yet, scarcely a day goes by when there is not some egregious incident of incitement to terror, classic anti-Semitic demonization and vilification of Israelis and Jews, a substitution of the entire map of Israel with "Palestine" and glorification of martyrdom and exhortation to become a "Shahid", (martyr).
Secretary of State John Kerry has just completed his tenth trip to the region. On his way home, he made a stop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and met with King Abdullah to praise him and to reassure him that his 2002 "Arab Peace Initiative" remained "a part of the framework we have been piecing together." Of course, any framework that has been accepted by the Arab league, which has never accepted Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state already shows the inherent biases of this administration.
In fact, the actual intentions of the Palestinian Authority as regards these negotiations was very clearly stated on December 23, 2013 by Abbas Zaki, a senior Palestinian official and close friend and confidant of P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas. When a Syrian television interviewer remarked, "When they (the US), talk about imposing a solution, we know it will be deficient," Mr. Zaki vehemently responded, "You can relax. Even the most extreme among us, Hamas, or the fighting forces, want a state within the 1967 borders. Afterwards, we will all have something to say, because the inspiring idea cannot be achieved all at once. (Rather) in stages." (With thanks to Palestinian Media Watch).
Irrespective of how generous the borders, and what the shape and contours of a future map of "Palestine" will look like, any society that celebrates the killing of innocents like Malki Roth, and that nurtures a culture of incitement and hatred such as this, could not be trusted to make a "peace agreement" that will endure, after the ink on the paper is dry.
Shame on us for imposing on Israel conditions that we, ourselves, could never find acceptable to live with.
Sarah N Stern is Founder and President of EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israel think tank and policy shop in our nation's capital.