State Dept. spox loses patience with Arab reporter

John Kirby refused to let Arab reporter Said Arikat corral him into condemning slain Border Policewoman as 'occupier.'

Gil Ronen,

James Kirby at press briefing.
James Kirby at press briefing.
Screenshot

State Department spokesman John Kirby refused on Wednesday to let Arab reporter Said Arikat maneuver him into condemning slain Border Policewoman Hadar Cohen as being part of an "occupying force."

Cohen was killed Wednesday when three armed Arab terrorists mounted an attack on her and three other Border Police near the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City.

When asked about the incident by AP's Matt Lee, Kirby said: “We do strongly condemn the attack in Jerusalem today in which two female border police officers were attacked with automatic weapons.

As before, sadly, once again, we have to extend our deepest condolences to a mourning family and to friends and the community of the victim, and we wish the injured officer a full and complete recovery. As we’ve said before, there’s no justification for these attacks,” the spokesperson said.

At this point, Arikat moved in, asking: “These Border Police units, they are part of an occupying force. Correct? You agree with that?"

Kirby did not step into the verbal trap and said: "This was… border police officers that were on duty, doing their job.”

“I understand you want to condemn this and that’s your prerogative," Arikat replied, "but… how should the Palestinians respond to an overwhelming military presence that basically suffocates their lives? What [should they] do, in your opinion?“

Kirby's intonation was resolute: "Let me tell you what is not the way to do it, okay? The way to not do it is through attacks like today. The way to not do it is to incite those attacks with rhetoric that inflames these tensions. The way to do it – the way to move forward here – is through peaceful dialogue and conversation, and to take affirmative steps in both word and in action to walk people away from this kind of violence. That’s the way to do this."

While he maintained his composure throughout, it appeared clear from his wording and tone of voice that Kirby was not happy with Arikat's attempts to get him to portray the slain policewoman as part of "an occupying force." 




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