Until the Obama administration decided to shift its support away from Israel because of a rather torturous interpretation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric, it seemed absurd that a major policy decision against an ally would ever turn on the hyperbole of a political campaign.
Even after Netanyahu clarified his remarks, the administration is persisting in its reassessment of policy not toward Netanyahu, but toward the Jewish state.
Contrast this with the administration’s behavior toward Palestinian leaders who routinely advocate genocide, call Jews the descendants of apes and pigs, incite violence against innocents, name parks and schools after mass murderers, and openly allude to peace negotiations as strategic steps toward Israel’s elimination.
Yet the Obama administration has not found that any of this rises to the level to warrant a change in policy toward the Palestinians. American administrations have typically met Israel’s outrage against Palestinian incitement, provocation, and terrorism with cautious patronizing and the urging of restraint.
Days after Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian leader characterized the treaty by alluding to the Prophet Mohammed’s peace of Mecca. Arafat reminded his followers that Mohammed broke the agreement when he felt strong enough to take the city.
The American response was as typical then as it is now — Israel should not overreact to Palestinian hyperbole.
So, why is Palestinian terrorism and verbal evasion met with endless rationalization, while something as insignificant as Israeli campaign rhetoric results in harsh policy changes?
The explanation is quite simple. President Barack Obama has long been looking for an excuse to create daylight between his administration and Israel. The conflict with Netanyahu is not about Netanyahu; it is about the administration grabbing a fig leaf to justify a move toward the Palestinians.