by Sarah N. Stern
"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."
Milan Kundera, "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting"
A week ago, Israel marked its annual Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism. Traffic stood still across the country when the sirens sounded in memory of the 23,169 soldiers and victims of terror the country has lost since its establishment. The Jewish state rose out of the crematoria of Auschwitz, and like most precious metals, it continues to survive the hottest fires known to man, simply because it must continue to exist.
I look at the photos of the more than 1,500 victims of Palestinian terror murdered since the Oslo Accords were signed, among them at least 53 Americans. Why were the victims of terror murdered? For the same reason that our relatives were murdered in Europe: Simply because they were Jews.
In this context, it saddens me to say that it seems the Obama administration has omitted some very prominent facts from memory.
Last Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth reporter Nahum Barnea interviewed a U.S. State Department official who faulted Israel alone for the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. According to the official, it was the tenders for the construction of 700 housing units on the outskirts of Jerusalem that caused the talks to collapse. Apparently he forgot the express commitment made by former U.S. President George W. Bush to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, as it was formulated in a letter written in April 2004, stating that "as part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion."
The areas where the aforementioned 700 housing units were slated to be built are most certainly within these "already existing major Israeli population centers." This express commitment has apparently been forgotten.
Furthermore, every agreement made with the Palestinian Authority to date has bound the Palestinians to one commitment: to settle every disagreement at the negotiating table rather than by way of incitement to violence or terrorism. That too has apparently been forgotten. Not a day goes by without some Palestinian Authority declaration hailing this or that martyr or honoring various terrorists and suicide bombers, encouraging others to join them in their glorious quest.
It was only last week that the Palestinian Authority joined together with Hamas to hold a military funeral for the terrorist Izzedine al-Masri, who murdered 15 people at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001 including two Americans: a 15-year-old girl and a 31-year-old pregnant woman. The Palestinian Authority television network described the funeral as a "wedding" to the 72 virgins in Paradise, the great reward Islam promises to those who die as martyrs for Allah.
Words can kill. These words and the emotions they represent symbolize something far more destructive to the chances of sustainable peace than a few housing units. However, the Palestinian Authority's commitment to stop the incitement to terrorism has also been forgotten from the international collective memory. This incitement inevitably ends in death.
We, the Jews, have a very long memory. It was this collective memory that bound us together during those dark days in exile. EMET, the organization I head, and I personally, will not rest until the murderers are finally tried. We are now calling for hearings to examine why no Palestinian who murdered an American citizen in disputed territories has ever been tried, charged or sued.
Sarah Stern in the founder and president of Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-American, pro-Israeli think tank and policy shop in Washington, D.C.
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