Monday, March 15, 2010

Abusing our allies and appeasing our enemies

Obama's administration's approach to foreign policy is now becoming clear. They will criticize or ignore our allies, but are very slow to criticize our enemies. Thus, Hillary Clinton proclaims that we are neutral between Britain and Argentina about the status of the Falkland Islands. We stop the program to place missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic in the hopes that Russia will help us some place, somewhere.

But the most obvious example is this administration's policy of criticizing Israel while ignoring what the Palestinians are up to. So this week we had Hillary Clinton calling and haranguing Netanyahu about the Israelis' plans for building in parts of Jerusalem that are recognized as part of Israel that will remain with Israel no matter what divisions might be made later. Barry Rubin reminds us of how hypocritical this is of the Obamanians.
For more than four months the U.S. government has been celebrating Israel agreeing to stop construction on settlements in the West Bank while continuing building in east Jerusalem as a great step forward and Israeli concession deserving a reward. Suddenly, all of this is forgotten to say that Israel building in east Jerusalem is some kind of terrible deed which deserves punishment.

Israelis are used to this pattern: give a big concession and a few months later that step is forgotten as Israel is portrayed as intransigent and more concessions are demanded with nothing in return.
And while the administration chastise the Israelis, here is the type of behavior from the Palestinians from which the administration averts its eyes.
Dozens of Palestinian students from the youth division of Fatah, the mainstream party led by President Mahmoud Abbas, gathered here on Thursday 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.

Though one senior Fatah leader and a Palestinian Authority security official joined the gathering in this town abutting Ramallah, the administrative center of the authority, the relatively low key nature of the event, timed to the 32d anniversary of the attack, was a kind of compromise. An official ceremony was put off by the Palestinian Authority as a result of Israeli protests and to avoid an unnecessary embarrassment during a visit to the region by the American vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., who came partly to promote new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The woman being honored, Dalal Mughrabi, was the 19-year-old leader of a Palestinian squad that sailed from Lebanon and landed on a beach between Haifa and Tel Aviv. They killed an American photojournalist, hijacked a bus and commandeered another, embarking on a bloody rampage that left 38 Israeli civilians dead, 13 of them children, according to official Israeli figures. Ms. Mughrabi and several other attackers were killed.

To Israelis, hailing Ms. Mughrabi as a heroine and a martyr is an act that glorifies terrorism.

But, underscoring the chasm between Israeli and Palestinian perceptions, the Fatah representatives described Ms. Mughrabi as a courageous fighter who held a proud place in Palestinian history. Defiant, they insisted that they would not let Israel dictate the names of Palestinian streets and squares.
We don't condemn that, but condemning the Israelis rolls trippingly off their tongues. What an upside down approach for us to be taking.