Op-Ed: "Netanyabbas", or Moral Equivalency in the White House
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, delivered the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA on February 23. She also took the occasion to send out this disturbing tweet: "Daniel Pearl's story is reminder that individual accountability & reconciliation are required to break cycles of violence."
This is not the first time Ms. Power has expressed the idea that there are no real good guys or bad guys in the clashes between Islamists and the West, or between the Arabs and Israel, but rather just "cycles of violence" in which aggressors and victims are all lumped together.
The same thing has been said by President Obama's newest Middle East policy adviser. Consider the article that Robert Malley, the new senior director on Mideast issues at the National Security Council, wrote in the New York Review of Books in 2006. He acknowledged that recent violence between Israel and Hezbollah began when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. But Hezbollah did that only because of the "numerous pressures" it was under, Malley insisted. Hezbollah is committed to "retrieving the few remaining Lebanese prisoners held in Israel jails," so naturally Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had to "live up to his word." Sure, the kidnappings were "more audacious and provocative than customary," but then again Israel is guilty of "incursions into Lebanese air and sea space as well as assassinations of Palestinian militants on Lebanese soil."
The reason that Samantha Power and Robert Malley fit right in at the Obama White House is that this whole "cycle of violence / both sides are guilty" mentality reflects the worldview of the president himself.
"The Jewish people were persecuted for centuries," and that is why their "aspiration for a Jewish homeland" is legitimate, he said. "On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland," the president continued. "They endure the daily humiliations -- large and small -- that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."
Note the moral equivalency between Israel being victimized by "hostility and attacks," and the Palestinian Arabs being victimized by "the displacement brought about by Israel's founding"--even though that displacement was caused by the Arabs' own war against Israel.
That sentiment, reflected in Ambassador Power's tweet and Robert Malley's statements, is what must give Israelis pause today--because even as they are being asked to ever riskier territorial concessions, the Israelis have been reminded that when the chips are down, they cannot assume President Obama will be on their side.