When does Palestinian terrorism against Israelis not count as terrorism? When the Obama administration redefines it for political purposes.
The State Department's annual report on human rights around the world was released this past week, and it included an unprecedented denunciation of Israel. The Israeli security forces are guilty of "excessive use of force" against Palestinian Arabs, according to the State Department.
Obviously the State Department has a right to condemn Israel's security tactics if it believes those tactics are unjustified. No country, not even America's staunchest ally, should be above criticism. But the administration does not have a right to redefine some types of Palestinian terrorism, in order to classify them as non-violence, so that Israel's response to them qualifies as "excessive."
The State Department does not deny the principle that Israeli soldiers are justified to shoot at Palestinians who are attacking them. But it is now redefining what constitutes an "attack." As examples of "excessive force," the report points out that during the past year, there were "numerous" instances of "the ISF (Israel security forces) killing Palestinians during riots, demonstrations, at checkpoints, and during routine operations…"
So if an Israeli soldier kills a Palestinian "during riots" or "demonstrations," that automatically constitutes "excessive force," according to the Obama administration. In other words, "riots" and "demonstrations" are not in the category of actions which could justify a lethal Israeli response.
Anyone who has ever seen footage of Palestinian "riots" and "demonstrations" --and the footage is freely available on YouTube-- knows that they typically consist of mobs of Palestinians hurling Molotov cocktails, bricks, and rocks at Israeli soldiers.
If a Molotov cocktail strikes a soldier, it sets him on fire. It can burn him to death. If a brick or a rock strikes an Israeli soldier in the head, it can blind or even kill him. At least fifteen Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian rock-throwers over the years.
By the way, American courts--and American newspapers--have no trouble acknowledging that rock-throwers are attempted-murderers. I have written previously about the case of three drunken teenagers who threw rocks at cars on the Capital Beltway in Washington, D.C., in 1990. Thirty drivers or passengers were wounded, including a girl who suffered irreversible brain damage. The attackers were convicted of "assault with intent to murder" and each sentenced to 40 years in prison. An editorial in the Washington Post at the time correctly asked, "What's the difference between assault with a deadly weapon--a shooting--and assault with rocks that hit cars at potentially lethal speeds?"
So why is the Obama administration trying to redefine Molotov cocktail-throwing rioters, and rock-throwing demonstrators, as non-terrorists? Because otherwise it would have no justification for blaming Israel, no way to criticize Israel, no basis for trying to pressure Israel into making more concessions to the Palestinians.
The administration's entire policy toward Israel and the Palestinians is based on the premise that the Palestinians deserve a fully independent state in Judea-Samaria-Gaza, as quickly as possible. The administration wants Israel to make more concessions, and more withdrawals, to speed up the drive towards statehood.
That's why it won't acknowledge that Palestinian mobs are engaged in attempted murder--because admitting that fact would jeopardize the administration's entire strategy. It would mean acknowledging that the Palestinians are the aggressors, that the Israelis are the victims, and therefore that the Palestinians are the ones who should be making concessions, not Israel. It would take away the administration's justification for pressuring Israel. It would turn American public opinion so firmly against the Palestinian Authority that Congress might block, or at least reduce, Obama's $500-million annual gift to the PA.
The administration's attempt to whitewash Palestinian rioters is not just discomfiting. It is dangerous to Israel. If the idea that rioters are not terrorists becomes the new norm, then any Israeli soldier who dares to defend himself against a firebomb-hurling attacker will be declared guilty of using "excessive force." And that will then become a justification for condemnations of Israel, pressure on Israel, boycotts of Israel, and worse--all with the blessing of the United States government.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.