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“I told him that peace in the Middle East was in his hands, that he had a unique opportunity to either bring it into being or kill it….” (U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin) [1]

Blaming Israel is a common practice in the media and in the West. In a conversation with Professor Graham Allison, at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attributed the escalation in violence in Israel in 2016 to the “massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years. Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing.” He feared that “unless we get going, a two-state solution could conceivably be stolen from everybody.” [2]

Kerry’s public rebuke provides the Palestinian Arabs with the justification to pursue their random stabbings, stoning and car-rammings, which they consider to be an inalienable right. The Palestinian Authority is even seeking international recognition for the “right” to kill Israelis. Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, reports that the PA asserts “it has the right to kill Israeli civilians, and they quote UN resolution 3236 of 1974 which ‘recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to regain its rights by all means.’ The PA interprets ‘all means’ as including violence and killing of civilians.”

Marcus points out the PA deliberately ignores the rest of the resolution that declares “the use of ‘all means’ should be ‘in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations…’ The UN Charter forbids targeting civilians, even in war.

For Kerry, Netanyahu and Israel are the problem. Only pressuring the Israelis will bring about a resolution to the conflict. That the Arabs have never accepted a two-state solution for religious and political reasons has not deterred American administrations from pursuing this fantasy. So long as they deny the independent nation-state status of Israel as a Jewish state, they are the root cause of a dispute that they make inherently impossible to be international in nature, thereby unresolvable under international auspices. Only when the Palestinian Arabs are willing to recognize the right of the Jews to their ancestral homeland, can there be any hope of resolving this dispute.”

At a press briefing in Washington, D.C., State Department spokesman John Kirby reinforced Muslim fears about Israel’s intention to assume control of the Temple Mount, when he claimed “The status quo [on the Temple Mount] has not been observed, which has led to a lot of the violence.” After a number of Israeli and Jordanian officials protested, Kirby clarified his earlier remarks: “I did not intend to suggest that status quo at Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif has been broken. We welcome both Israel’s & Jordan’s commitment to continued maintenance of status quo at Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”

When asked about the reports that Israel used excessive force in fighting the terrorism, Kirby responded “we’ve certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force. Obviously, we don’t like to see that, and we want to see restrictions that are elevated in this time of violence to be as temporary as possible if they have to be enacted.” He then launched into the standard statement of moral equivalence. “What we want to see, though… is for both sides… to take the leadership responsibilities of calling for calm, maintaining that calm, and being able to restore a sense of normalcy so that people can get on with their lives safely and not have to worry, but also so that we can really begin to have again a meaningful discussion towards a two-state solution – which we continue to believe is the outcome that is – that’s best for the people there in the region.”

Invoking moral equivalence provides an additional excuse for Palestinian Arab attacks, which their government avows is beyond their ability to restrain. “If the Israeli government continues with this escalation of this dangerous method of executions, the region will be in a position that cannot be controlled,” declared Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. [7] Writing in The New York Post, Michael Goodwin said this statement reminded him of an interview he had in September 2000 in Ramallah with Nabil Amr, a Palestinian Arab official close to Yasser Arafat: “Amr repeated a version of what was a mantra in the 75-minute interview: There are these groups that we cannot control. The message was clear: Don’t blame the Palestinians if terrorists return to their deadly business. Blame only the Israelis for refusing to surrender themselves and their country.”

“Nothing has changed” since that interview Goodwin noted. “As The Times story showed, the Palestinians are still threatening violence, even as they wash their hands of responsibility by saying it cannot be ‘controlled.’”

“Don’t blame us for anything,” they assert. “Everything is Israel’s fault. If Arabs kill Jews, the Jews had it coming. More incredibly, the Palestinians have been rewarded for their treachery. Although Bill Clinton later blamed Arafat for the collapse of the 2000 talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, he later softened his criticism. And the murderous intifada that followed earned Israel more international condemnation and Palestinians more sympathy.”

Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration, responded to the secretary of state by saying “Kerry does not know what he is talking about…He seems to believe that the real culprits, when Palestinians stab Israelis to death, are people who build a new housing unit in a settlement.”

Though there has been continual expansion in population in Judea and Samaria, the majority of that increase is in areas–such as Ma’ale Adumim–that Israel will retain in any final peace agreement. “Kerry’s imprecision is another problem,” Abrams said. “Does he mean there has been a massive increase in the number of settlements? That’s flatly false. Does he mean a massive increase in settlement size, as existing settlements expand physically? That’s also flatly false. The so-called ‘peace map’ or ‘Google Earth map’ of the West Bank has changed very little.”

At another point, Kerry warned “if … peace talks fail, “there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that’s been building up [against Israel]. People are very sensitive to it. There are talks of boycotts and other kinds of things.” He quoted Gidi Grinstein, the founder of the Reut Institute, an Israeli nonprofit that focuses on issues related to Israel and world Jewry, who asserts that if Israel is not viewed as seriously dedicated to ending her control over the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria, Israel will have to contend with a “massive eruption of the B.D.S. movement,” and further alienate American Jews. This will lead to “turning Israel from a force of unity for Jews to a force of disunity.”. Proof that this will lead to a rift within the American Jewish community is not provided.

A number of Israeli ministers and American Jewish leaders condemned Kerry for trying to use BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) “as a club to pressure Israel into making more concessions.” Likud Knesset member Tzipi Hotovely complained that “Kerry’s unprecedented threats of a boycott are an attempt to terrorize Israel.” Danny Danon, deputy defense minister, protested that Kerry was placing a gun to Israel’s head.

The secretary of state’s claim that Israelis’ “sense of security” precluded them from any urgency to start negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs is outrageous, baseless and absolves the Arabs from being intransigent. Before meeting with then Israeli President Shimon Peres, Kerry told reporters that “I think there is an opportunity [for peace], but for many reasons it’s not on the tips of everyone’s tongue. People in Israel aren’t waking up every day and wondering if tomorrow there will be peace because there is a sense of security and a sense of accomplishment and of prosperity.”

Kerry wanted to seize the opportunity now since “Over the horizon… one can see the challenges,” that make it essential “to resolve this at this moment, when there is a willingness for people to look for a way [to achieve an agreement].”

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center, interpreted Kerry’s remarks as meaning Israel “should feel a pressing imperative to dump King Abdullah and cut a deal with a Palestinian polity that is bifurcated between a kleptocratic, autocratic, openly anti-Semitic West Bank ruled by a man whose sole elected term ended in 2009, and a corrupt, Islamist, Gaza ruled by terrorist-worshipping, Iranian-sponsored Hamas.”

Bryen suggested that “under those circumstances, the U.S. would do better to tell the Palestinians that there is no deal to be had unless they – both factions – demonstrably accommodate the reality that Israel is a legitimate, permanent part of the region. Otherwise, it is for Israel to determine how best to defend itself from those “challenges over the horizon.” [16]

A Response to Arab Incitement

Abrams suggests there are a number of responses to Arab incitement that, while “not panaceas… are better than what we usually do—which is very little or nothing.” The Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington should be closed until the incitement ceases. Second, if all funding to the Palestinian Authority cannot be ended, at least illegal personal funding should stop. The U.S. can require that before using appropriated funds, there be a way to determine how they will be spent. Third, we should determine which individuals are involved in the incitement, and ban them from obtaining visas for a period of time.

Another essential weapon against Palestinian Arab provocation is Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center, an Israeli non-profit NGO, whose director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, an Israeli attorney, uses the courts in litigation against groups and individuals it accuses of advocating terrorism or being “Israel’s enemies. To combat what Israeli security forces call “The Facebook Intifada,” Shurat HaDin, is enlisting the Israeli public to participate in a class action suit against the global Facebook website, called “Suing Facebook – Cutting off Terrorism,” for “incitement and encouragement of violence against Israelis.” Twenty thousand Israeli citizens have been recruited.

Shurat HaDin has discovered “The terrorists do not come on their own. They write posts and encourage their friends to kill Jews. Facebook has been transformed into an anti-Semitic incubator for murder.” The organization expects to “obtain an injunction against Facebook to remove these inciting pages, a court order directing Facebook to monitor these methods of incitement and block them and to place the responsibility on Facebook for allowing these terrorists on their network.”