Over the past month, Palestinians have staged a series of riots and terrorist attacks targeting Israelis. Last week, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalem and injured two others, including a two-year old boy. Several days earlier, a terrorist ambushed an Israeli family driving through the West Bank, murdering two parents in front of their four children, ages four months to nine years. Those attacks were only the start. On Wednesday alone, Palestinians reportedly staged over 100 rock attacks, 35 fire bombings, and another series of stabbings.
This terrorism follows weeks of growing violence against Israel, from firebomb attacks on Israeli security forces at the Temple Mount to Palestinian rock throwers, who stoned a Jewish driver in Jerusalem, forcing him off the road and killing him. Reminiscent of the days when Yasser Arafat talked peace in English and jihad in Arabic, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — a man President Obama regularly hails as a peacemaker — is inciting the bloodshed. “Every drop of blood that has been spilled in Jerusalem is holy blood as long as it was for Allah,” he recently declared on Palestinian television. “Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre . . . [Israelis] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.”
Abbas has used such anti-Semitic language to promote lies that Jews are defiling the Al-Aqsa mosque area and attempting to alter the status quo, in an attempt to take it over. He followed this incitement by declaring at the United Nations last week that he was no longer bound by peace agreements with Israel. The very next day, Fatah claimed responsibility for the brutal terrorist attack in the West Bank — an attack which killed an American citizen.
And what has been the Obama administration’s response to weeks of official Palestinian incitement, anti-Semitism, and violence? President Obama refuses to criticize Abbas or demand that he stop the incitement and violence. Instead, the administration plays the moral equivalence game. “All sides,” it says, must “restore calm,” as if Israel is somehow to blame for being the victim of terrorism. Secretary of State Kerry this week cautioned “everybody to be calm, not to escalate the situation.” For her part, Hillary Clinton has been silent. This is not surprising given that as Secretary of State she led many of the Obama administration’s attacks on Israel.
Indeed, the indifference that President Obama and Hillary Clinton display toward incitement and violence against Jews fits a long-running pattern of callousness and neglect toward the Jewish state. In June 2009, President Obama reportedly told American Jewish leaders that he wanted to put daylight between America and Israel. He went on to demand a full settlement freeze to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations — an extraordinary precondition that even Abbas himself never made.
The president’s demand destroyed any hope of moving forward on peace, asking too much of Israel and giving Abbas no incentive to negotiate. The Palestinians refused to enter negotiations until the last month of the freeze, but Hillary Clinton reserved her anger for a 45-minute rant aimed at Prime Minister Netanyahu. Over the next five years, this pattern persisted — administration officials largely absolved the Palestinians of responsibility for incitement and terror while threatening to reassess relations with Israel and calling the leader of a close ally a “chicken — .”
By distancing the United States from Israel, President Obama has created an atmosphere that rewards the provocative behavior of the Palestinian Authority. Absolving the guilty, blaming the innocent, and ignoring Palestinian incitement is putting lives at risk. It is long past time for President Obama and Hillary Clinton to call on President Abbas — clearly and publicly — to work to stop the anti-Semitism and terror. And it is also long past time for President Obama and Hillary Clinton to pledge — clearly and publicly — to block the Palestinian campaign to bypass peace with Israel by unilaterally declaring statehood.
Israelis are under attack as they seek to do nothing more than go about their daily lives. It’s time for the United States to make clear that we stand with Israel and reject President Abbas’s ugly tactics, which are leaving Israel without a partner for peace and only leaving his people with a future that is more uncertain, less peaceful, and less prosperous. With the Middle East in flames, the best way to stabilize our role in the region is to restore our ties with Israel as the Israeli people once again are under attack.