Outrage has followed Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement that “massive settlement building” in the West Bank has occasioned a deep sense of frustration among Palestinians and has lead (or contributed) to the outbreak of violence in Israel. Similarly, John Kirby, spokesman for the Department of State, remarked yesterday that the Israeli response to some of the instances of lone terror attacks has been “excessive”. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and even the Wall Street Journal have all run headlines in the past few days suggesting that it is Palestinian teens who have been the victims of attacks rather than its obvious perpetrators.
Maybe outrage is appropriate but no one should be surprised. This is par for the course for this Administration and it is common for the media – even the Wall Street Journal, (whose reportage seems to inhabit a different moral plane than its editorial page), to promote an idea of moral equivalence. We should register that this is the new moral universe we inhabit – where right is wrong, where premeditated murder transforms into evidence of mere frustration and gangsters are accorded the status of freedom fighters.
John Kerry and the State Department should be seen as modern day appeasers who, like their more famous forbears in the 1930s, saw good and evil in relative terms and became the apologists of those who would one day vow to destroy them.
He now has the Israelis scratching their heads about his confusion of the difference between the perpetration of terror and its deterrence and defense. They see that this moral relativism is now nothing more than a diplomatic reflex of the Obama Administration when it comes to dealing with the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Of course there has been no “massive settlement building” in Judea and Samaria – a fact Kerry knows quite well. In fact, as a result of the 10 month moratorium on building in the settlements imposed upon Israel by the Obama Administration in 2010, building anything new in the settlements since that times has become increasingly difficult. The Israeli population of the West Bank has remained largely static over the past 5 years at around 360,000. The only growth in settlements has been the growth of illegal Arab settlements, financed by the European Union.
Kerry, of course, maintains the fiction that both sides are to blame since he still wishes to be seen as the honest broker who can bring the two sides together for a peace deal. But he should recognize by now that Mahmoud Abbas is NEVER coming back to the table. In his last years, Abbas much like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, wants to leave his mark on the history of his people, not as a peace maker but as a warrior. And why wouldn’t he? He will earn much higher marks as an Arab leader if he leaves a trail of blood behind him, rather than a deal with the accursed Jews.
President after President and Secretary of State after Secretary of State, have repeatedly made exactly the same mistake. The Arab world does not repay moral relativism with concessions and openness to peace. It sees it rather as weakness and an opportunity for manipulation.
A strong statement from the Administration, threatening to block funding for the Palestinian Authority or impose sanctions in the U.N. would send a far more effective message and it is one that the Palestinian leaders would respect. But failure to do so will only result in emboldening the resort to terror and suggesting to men like Mahmoud Abbas that he can actually achieve something from continuing incitement.
Avi Davis is the President of the American Freedom Alliance and the editor of the Intermediate Zone