Trump, Israeli Victims of Terror at Least Get Genuine Condolences
By Gregg Roman
June 27, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump made a host of widely-publicized pledges to
strengthen the US-Israeli relationship during his presidential campaign, his
five-month old administration has shown few tangible signs of movement on any of
them. It has passed on opportunities to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from
Tel Aviv and to scrap the Iran nuclear deal. And it certainly doesn't appear to
be undertaking a major rethink about how to bring about Israeli-Palestinian
credit the White House with making one critically important, lower-profile
change, evident in the reaction of Trump's peace envoy to the June 16 killing of
Border Police officer Hadas Malka by Palestinian terrorists outside of
Jerusalem's Old City.
United States stands with our ally Israel and condemns the savage terrorist
attack in Jerusalem," tweeted
Trump's lead international negotiator Jason Greenblatt as he was leaving on a
trip to Israel. After visiting the family of the deceased on June 19, he
released a prepared
statement saying "[St.-] Sgt. Major [Hadas] Malka was murdered by
terrorists," with a bit at the end about Trump's vision for a Middle East
free from "threats of terrorism and extremism."
Past practice of victim-shaming Israel is unique in the annals of
all that seems pretty typical of how an American envoy would react to a deadly
terrorist attack against a longstanding U.S. ally, that's precisely the point.
Under previous administrations, it had become standard practice in reacting to
terrorist attacks against Israelis to urge Israel (or both sides) to "exercise
restraint," "not escalate tensions any further," "avoid
any kind of innocent civilian casualties, "avoid...
making provocative statements that can further inflame tensions," and
various other equivalents.
practice of singling Israel out for what can best be described as victim-shaming
is unique in the annals of American diplomacy. Most countries get unmitigated
expressions of sympathy after experiencing terrorist attacks. "Each and
every American stands with you today. We stand with you in solidarity... to the
cause of confronting extremism," said secretary of state John Kerry in response
to the January 2016 Paris terrorist attacks. Nothing about avoiding
provocations or not escalating tensions.
got straight-up State Department condolences last year, without any insulting
riders or caveats.
course, admonitions to avoid doing bad things after being attacked crop up at
times in U.S. handling of countries like Lebanon
where the absence of a functioning state has given rise to ethno-sectarian
score-settling, and China,
which has been prone to excesses in responding to terrorist attacks, but the
usage of this rhetoric doesn't seem to have been routine.
all countries, doesn't need lessons on restraint.
goes without saying that singling out Israel is unfair – any country willing
to turn the other cheek when under repeated Scud missile attack by Saddam
Hussein doesn't need lessons on restraint. But even if it did, it's difficult to
imagine a less effective way of counseling an ally than demeaning it publicly
every time it is murderously attacked.
is the Middle East's lone true democracy and a regional oasis of women's rights
and minority freedoms we're talking about. Pretending otherwise only legitimizes
extremists obsessed with demonizing, boycotting, and ultimately destroying
then, the deliberate projection of false moral equivalence between Palestinian
terrorism and Israeli self-defense? It's partly the result of decades of Arab
diplomatic pressure, and partly a result of the Stockholm Syndrome-like belief
among State Department careerists that Palestinian leaders won't come to (or at
any rate stay at) the table unless they and their narrative are accorded the
same respect and acknowledgment as Israel's.
the changing substance and tenor of U.S. public statements about Israel reflects
a discarding of such faulty assumptions, a willingness to help build Israel's
confidence rather than undermine it, and greater commitment to letting this
loyal ally get on with the business of combating Islamist terrorism the way it