Politics & Policy

Obama’s ‘Refrain’

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
As if Israel and the PA were morally equivalent.

Those three Israeli teens, including a U.S. citizen, have been found — their bodies, that is. The young men were murdered by Hamas operatives. And President Obama put out a statement:

“As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing.”

At least he did not pull a Clinton: “I feel your pain.” And Obama is right, of course, that the parents of the dead feel the pain most acutely. But Israelis at large are in pain. They, all of them, are on the front lines in a way that we Americans rarely are (thanks in part to our “blessed location,” as Washington said).

The kidnap and murder of young Israelis is not quite routine, but it is not all that extraordinary either. The day the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize was announced, Hamas killed a young soldier named Nachshon Waxman. He had been hitchhiking in central Israel to visit his girlfriend. Hamas nabbed him and held him for five days. The Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, ordered a raid on the terrorist redoubt. It failed: The terrorists killed Waxman and one of the rescuing soldiers.

About this latest episode, Obama said, “From the outset, I have offered our full support to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to find the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice, and I encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working together in that effort.”

Sometimes evenhandedness can be false and offensively so. Israel and the PA, a.k.a. the PLO, are not partners in the struggle against terrorism. In fact, the PLO has become a partner of Hamas. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, made a statement about Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO chief: “If he is truly committed to peace and to fighting terrorism, then logic and common sense mandate that he break his pact with Hamas. There can be no alliance with the kidnappers of children.”

Obama, in contrast, urged “all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.”

So, the message we have sent to Israel, one of our strongest allies, is: Simmer down, sport.

This is not a diplomatic or wise message at this time. The Israeli government should do whatever it can to prevent atrocities like the one we have just seen in the future.

Obama added, “As the Israeli people deal with this tragedy, they have the full support and friendship of the United States.” We hope the Obama administration will show evidence of this. Famously, or infamously, Obama griped about Netanyahu with Nicolas Sarkozy, who was then the French president. We trust that our president is at least equally annoyed by terrorists and their enablers.

The Editors — The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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