by Joseph Puder
The hypocrisy of Mark Toner’s condemnation of Israel’s plan to resettle Amona evacuees.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner issued, on October 5, 2016 a statement that “strongly condemned” Israel’s plan to resettle the Amona evacuees whose settlement is to be demolished by an order of Israel’s Supreme Court. Toner stated that “proceeding with this new settlement, which could include 300 units, would further damage the prospects of a two-state solution.” The same term “strongly condemn” was used by the State Department when the Assad regime in Syria used chemical weapons against civilians. Equating the murder of innocent civilians by a brutal dictator with 300 new housing units to resettle Israeli civilians in Shiloh, whose homes are due to be demolished in December, is disproportionate to say the least.
Toner’s boss, Secretary of State John Kerry in London with British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, issued the following statement (October 16, 2016), “Suffice it to say that all of us are more than concerned and deeply, deeply disturbed by and outraged by what is happening in Aleppo, which is in the year 2016, in the beginning of the 21st century, a horrendous step back in time to a kind of barbarianism, a use of force that is of insult to all of the values that the United Nations and most countries believe should guide our actions.” Secretary Kerry expressed “concern” and was “deeply disturbed” by events in Aleppo, but did not “strongly condemn” the killing of thousands of Syrian civilians in Aleppo. The U.S. State Department has disproportionately displayed animus in its attitude toward Israel, and it smacks of a deep bias on top of a long history of anti-Semitism at Foggy Bottom.
In response to a reporter’s question as to why President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry did not use the term “strongly condemn” that the State Department spokesman used, Toner replied: “Well, there have been times in the past when it has come – these kinds of words have come from either Secretary Kerry or President Obama, and the message is always the same, which is we view settlements as counterproductive and counter to Israel’s interests. We’re going to keep up with that message and we’re going to keep conveying it to the Israeli Government when they take these kinds of actions. I think this one was, as we noted in the statement, particularly exceptional in the fact that it came mere days after we had concluded this memorandum of understanding, and also in the wake of one of Israel’s leading statesmen, Shimon Peres’s death.”
Israel’s Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked responded to the State Departments harsh condemnation, saying that “The Middle East is burning, and the people of Syria are being slaughtered daily, I think the United States should concern itself with saving civilians in Syria and not with issuing harsh statements over a few housing units.”
Given the implication stemming from Toner’s words, and the policies of the Obama administration regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one might assume that the “Jewish settlements” are the sole obstacle to peace in the region. And one might further assume that 300 new housing units is deserving of being “strongly condemned.” This is of course a preposterous assumption and fatally wrong. First, as far as the Palestinian Authority (PA) is concerned, and Hamas in Gaza in particular, “all of Israel is considered by them as “occupied territory.” In other words, they do not recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people with deep historical connections to the land, whether it is Tel Aviv, Haifa or a place like Shiloh, where the Tabernacle rested before Solomon’s Temple was built in Jerusalem.
Secondly, by objecting to the idea of Jews living in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), which is the cradle of Jewish history and civilization, the State Department is essentially promoting “a Judenrein” Palestine. Clearly, if Arab-Muslim Palestinians can live in the Jewish state as full citizens, why can’t Jews live in the West Bank or in a future Palestinian state?
Thirdly, The West Bank is by all accounts “disputed territory” and not “occupied Palestinian territory.” The State Department knew full well that the Palestinians, in 1947, rejected the UN Partition Plan because they hoped to liquidate the Jews in what subsequently became the Jewish State. Legally, Israel has as much of a claim to the area as do the Palestinians. From 1948 to 1967, Jordan occupied the West Bank illegally. Prior to that, the territories were part of the British Mandate, and before that a neglected region of the Ottoman Empire. There was never in history, a sovereign Arab state entity called Palestine. Yet, the original Palestine Mandate sought to create a Jewish Home (land) in all of today’s Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
It would much better serve peace between Israel and the Palestinians if the State Department would “strongly condemn” the PA’s hateful incitement against Jews and Israel, which is so pervasive throughout Palestinian society that the prospects for a real peace in our time, or the next generation is rather slim. For several generations, the Palestinian mosques, media, and educational system poisoned the hearts and minds of the young to hate Jews and Israel, and at the same time encouraged terror through suicide bombers and individual killers. Unless the PA begins to reverse that mindset of its people, the prospects for real peace are non-existent. Moreover, the billions of dollars in U.S. and European Union aid to the PA intended to create a civil society that would encourage peaceful co-existence with Israel, has gone to waste.
There are currently two prospective Palestinian states, one based in Ramallah (West Bank) headed by Mahmoud Abbas and the PA, and the other based in Gaza headed by Ismail Haniya and Hamas. Both reject face-to-face negotiations with Israel. Hamas is a terror group recognized as such by the U.S. It will not, under any circumstance recognize or make peace with the Jewish state. The PA has tried all avenues to circumvent direct negotiations with Israel. Instead, Abbas went to the UN seeking recognition as a member state, in order to avoid direct and unconditional negotiations with Israel.
Corruption and nepotism has marked the tenure of the PA in the West Bank. “Many Palestinians” in the words of Palestinian Human Rights activist Bassem Eid, “prefer the ‘dignity’ of a job and decent livelihood, that the PA is not providing them, over ‘identity’ or a Palestinian state, ruled by the corrupt elite.” It is about time for the State Department to understand that peace will come from ground level cooperation between Palestinian villages and Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews are shopping at each other’s markets, albeit, this story has had little coverage in the international media. This is where peace begins, and not on a meaningless piece of paper. A Palestinian state cannot be built on the hate and incitement that encourages violence and death. Investments that create jobs and cooperative projects in the West Bank, where Israelis and Palestinians can socialize and work together, initiated by the U.S. and the E.U., are the best prescription for peace.
Mark Toner’s escalated criticism of Israel by the usage of the term “strongly condemn” leveled at Israel’s declared intention to settle Jews expelled from Amona in Shiloh, is not only disproportionate, it is wrong and inimical to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.