On Tuesday night, at about the time the “Israeli-Palestinian direct talks” were getting launched in Washington, terrorists murdered four Israeli civilians driving near Hebron. Yitzhak and Tali Ames (47 and 45, parents of six, with Tali nine months pregnant) along with Kochava Even-Haim (37, married and a mother of an eight-year-old girl) and Avishai Shindler (24 and recently married) were apparently first hit in the Ames’ car by a roadside fusillade.
They then had their bodies decimated by bullets at close range as the terrorists “confirmed the kill.”
Already the accepted version of events is that all three of the main leaders present at the Washington talks — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — duly condemned the attack.
But before that “official” version slips through unchallenged, it’s worth looking at more closely.
Netanyahu, a patriotic Israeli whose distress at the attack is not in question, denounced its “savagery and brutality,” and the perpetrators as people who “trample human rights into the dust and butcher everything that they oppose.” Obama called the attack “senseless slaughter,” and though “senseless” is disputable since the attack can actually be traced to a deliberate strategy by Iran, the phrase is basically unobjectionable in the context.
The problem has to do with Abbas. On Tuesday night, he said he “condemns all acts that target Palestinian and Israeli civilians” and that the Hebron attack was meant to “disrupt the peace process and can’t be regarded as an act of resistance.”
What’s wrong with that shouldn’t need to be spelled out.
The reference to “all acts that target Palestinian and Israeli civilians” is reprehensible. It not only generalizes the attack and removes its specificity, but also exploits the attack to — once again — level an accusation at Israelis.
Even if that accusation was accurate, this would not have been the time to make it.
But it is, of course, inaccurate. Whereas thousands of Israeli civilians have been targeted by Palestinian attacks, Israel never targets Palestinian (or any other) civilians, and the few Israeli individuals who do so are viewed and treated as criminals.
Abbas, then, not only failed to condemn Tuesday night’s atrocious murder of four people but used it to smear Israel with what is essentially a blood libel.
And what about the rest of Abbas’s words? Saying the attack was intended to “disrupt the peace process” is an instrumental criticism, not a moral one. And saying that it “can’t be regarded as an act of resistance” is actually — for those who know the lingo — a backhanded compliment to terrorism. “Resistance,” in the Palestinian and broader extremist Arab and Muslim parlance, is a positive term for terrorism, connoting its nobility. Abbas was not condemning Tuesday’s attack as terrorism, but as imprudent.
Terrorism, he clearly implied, is commendable when carried out in the right way and context.