It is therefore as if Obama was saying that there is some correspondence between the alleged offense of Israelis building apartments and Palestinians resorting to riots — or worse — on this pretext. This amounts to suggesting that Palestinian violence is a natural and excusable reaction to Jews building houses.
For the American president to say or imply this is itself, to coin a phrase, “very dangerous.”
History shows that much of this conflict has been exacerbated by this brand of amoral neutrality toward violence that has allowed extremists to set policy:
1921: In British-controlled Palestine, after rumors present an intra-Jewish clash as an anti-Arab uprising, Arabs riot in Jaffa, killing Jews. The British response? A temporary suspension of Jewish immigration into Palestine.
1929: The Palestinian leadership incites large-scale pogroms against Jews throughout Palestine, based on trumped-up stories of Jews attacking Muslims and Muslim shrines. The British response? A commission of inquiry recommends curtailment of Jewish immigration.
1996: Palestinians riot in Jerusalem following trumped-up rumors circulated by Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority that Israel’s opening of a Jerusalem archeological tunnel is designed to harm the mosques on Temple Mount. The international response? Criticism of an unnecessary Israeli provocation and renewed pressure on Israel to make further concessions.
2000: A pre-arranged visit to Temple Mount by Israeli politician Ariel Sharon is distorted by Palestinian media as being gratuitous violation of Muslim sanctuaries, producing riots and a terror wave. The international response? Condemnation of Israeli provocation and demands for more concessions in on-going peace talks.
Common to these examples (and others) is this clear fact: Palestinian violence, often based on lies fomented by unscrupulous men, is turned into a paying proposition. Far less clear is why President Obama would wish to encourage this time-honored Palestinian stratagem.
Even allowing that his comments stem from a background of pro-Palestinian partisanship, they are devoid of common sense and finesse, since Obama is seeking to reconvene peace talks. (The absence of such talks is itself the result of this policy of demanding a Jewish construction freeze that the Palestinian Authority never made a pre-condition for talks until Obama himself did, before backtracking — but only somewhat). Yet resuming talks, useful or useless as these might be, cannot occur if Obama assists a resort to violence by Palestinians.
To treat Palestinian violence as a social inevitability, like common theft, best dealt with by not attracting the thieves’ notice is to put a premium on it and to ensure its recurrence. Can Obama actually want this? And where then will his Arab/Israeli policy be?