2010-03-26 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

Anger Over Housing, And Honoring A Murdering Terrorist
Commentary By Howard Schwach

There is no doubt that Israel sandbagged Vice President Joe Biden by announcing new housing in East Jerusalem, something that is anathema to President Barak Obama and which greatly angered the Arab world.

There is lots of evidence that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyanu was just as surprised as Biden when the announcement was made by a member of his cabinet. You see, in the Israeli scheme of things, Netanyanu was forced to give that position to the far right wing party in order to organize a government. When you have a parliamentary form of government, those things happen.

In any case, Obama went off his gourd that a nation supported largely by the United States would dare to go against U.S. policy by making a decision like that without first checking with the White House.

Obama has to get a life. This is the real world, and Israel is a nation that has been fighting its own battles, albeit with the help of the U.S. since 1948.

As Congressman Anthony Weiner angrily said, “Israel is a sovereign nation and an ally, not a punching bag. Enough already.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has often spoke loudly about this nation’s dedication to Israel, took the Obama line and ran with it.

“Israel must back up its pledge to talk peace with the Palestinians and improve an atmosphere poisoned by last weeks housing announcement,” Clinton said.

Netanyanu issued an immediate, terse statement about Clinton’s comments.

“The Government of Israel has proved its commitment to peace in the last year in both words and deeds,” he said.

Clinton quickly announced that the U.S remains committed to Israel’s security despite “current tensions.”

Clinton had earlier called the building of new housing in East Jerusalem while Biden was in the country “an insult” to the American leader.

If you want to talk about an insult, the Middle East is full of them.

Some of them you hear about, some of them are kept buried below the radar.

While the daily newspapers were full of stories about Israel’s announcement and new housing in East Jerusalem, there was a ceremony going on nearby on the West Bank that you probably did not hear much about.

While the Palestinians waited to hold the ceremony until the day after Biden had spoken with their leaders, the event was probably as unproductive in restarting the peace process as was Israel’s housing announcement.

Hundreds of Palestinian students, joined by many of the leaders of Hamas, an organization dedicated to destroying Israel and all the Jews in the world, gathered in El Bereh on the West Bank to dedicate a public square to the memory of a woman, who in 1978, helped carry out the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel’s history.

The woman being honored, Dalal Mughrabi, was the 19-year-old leader of a Palestinian squad that started out in Lebanon and entered Israel secretly on the shoreline between Haifa and Tel Aviv.

The squad led by the teenager slaughtered an American photo-journalist, hijacked two buses and killed 38 Israeli civilians, 13 of them young children.

Now, you might agree that Mughrabi was a genuine hero and that the kids deserved it, but I don’t.

Nor, do I think its helpful to the peace process to once again declare somebody who killed a group of innocents as a hero.

You won’t hear much about that event from Clinton or Obama, however. It does not fit the new image of Israel as the aggressor and the nation that put a halt to the peace process while looking at the Palestinians as the poor, oppressed people of the earth who only want peace and a little piece of land to call their own.

Never mentioning the dedication of a town square to a terrorist killer, Clinton cancelled the visit of U.S. envoy George Mitchell, who was coming to speak to both sides to kickstart the peace process.

Clinton said that Mitchell would not go back to the Middle East until the U.S. has the “full commitment from both our Israeli and Palestinian partners to this effort.”

Sure, America has kept Israel alive and kicking for many years.

I would hope we do so because it is the only true democracy in the area, and one that shares its core values with America more closely than any other nation in the area – not because it can be forced to do America’s bidding to provide Obama with some more political currency.

We might all ask our leaders who we should support in this battle.

This moral equivalence argument between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians does not hold water.

Should we support a democracy that has had to fight for its life for more than 60 years to remain viable? Or, should we support a government who wants to destroy that nation and everybody who lives within its borders?

A nation that honors its women and allows them to lead both the government and the military or a government that will not allow women to go out at night without a man present and forces them to cover every part of their body?

I know many who want us to abandon Israel because they are afraid of the Muslim world and believe that by leaving Israel in the lurch, the religious zealots who seek to kill us would become our lovers.

To them, I say, get your heads out of your behinds. It is time to grow up.

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