Commentary Magazine


Topic: inflammatory rhetoric

Did We Really Condemn the Palestinian Call to Violence?

In his interview with Bret Baier on Fox News yesterday, Obama said: “And what we’ve said is we need both sides to take steps to make sure that we can rebuild trust, and yesterday when there were riots by the Palestinians against a synagogue that had reopened, we condemned them in the same way because what we need right now is both sides to recognize that is in their interests to move this peace process forward” (emphasis added).

But did we really condemn the Palestinian violence? On March 16 (the day to which the president refers), the State Department spokesman had this to say: “As we said yesterday, we are concerned about statements that could potentially risk incitement because we recognize that there’s a great deal of tension in the region right now. Today, you had Hamas say ‘Call for a day of rage.’ This is irresponsible.” No use of the word condemn.

At the White House, Robert Gibbs had this to say: “Well, again, as I said earlier today and as I said last week when asked about this, there are actions that each side takes that hurt the trust needed to bring these two sides together. The State Department reiterated — or I will reiterate what the State Department said yesterday about the deep concern that we have around inflammatory rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem. That’s not helpful on that side of the ledger.” And later there was this exchange:

Q: You partially answered this, but Israel claims over the years it’s tried to protect holy sites — Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites. Have you ever discussed this with the Palestinians and asked them to refrain from attacks on either people’s holy sites?

MR. GIBBS: We have — I would say — I’m taking this a little bit broader — I would say the types of things that you’ve heard us and, quite frankly, administrations in the past discuss as unhelpful to moving this process along are — is any call for the incitement of violence. Again, I mentioned the State Department — reiterated the State Department’s guidance on what we believed was unhelpful rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem as a real-time example of the type of action and rhetoric that is not in any way productive and undermines the trust that’s needed for both of these sides to sit down and directly address their issues and move forward on peace.

So where has the U.S. “condemned” the Palestinian violence? Not in any public briefing or statement so far.

Even if we did hold the Palestinians to the same standard as we do Israel, is a housing announcement concerning the Israeli capital really equivalent to a call to violence? That’s the question being ignored. Israel and its supporters would find such a notion preposterous. The Obami do not. But we’ve yet to see — despite the president’s comments — that they are even willing to extend the same condemnation language to their Palestinian friends.

In his interview with Bret Baier on Fox News yesterday, Obama said: “And what we’ve said is we need both sides to take steps to make sure that we can rebuild trust, and yesterday when there were riots by the Palestinians against a synagogue that had reopened, we condemned them in the same way because what we need right now is both sides to recognize that is in their interests to move this peace process forward” (emphasis added).

But did we really condemn the Palestinian violence? On March 16 (the day to which the president refers), the State Department spokesman had this to say: “As we said yesterday, we are concerned about statements that could potentially risk incitement because we recognize that there’s a great deal of tension in the region right now. Today, you had Hamas say ‘Call for a day of rage.’ This is irresponsible.” No use of the word condemn.

At the White House, Robert Gibbs had this to say: “Well, again, as I said earlier today and as I said last week when asked about this, there are actions that each side takes that hurt the trust needed to bring these two sides together. The State Department reiterated — or I will reiterate what the State Department said yesterday about the deep concern that we have around inflammatory rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem. That’s not helpful on that side of the ledger.” And later there was this exchange:

Q: You partially answered this, but Israel claims over the years it’s tried to protect holy sites — Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites. Have you ever discussed this with the Palestinians and asked them to refrain from attacks on either people’s holy sites?

MR. GIBBS: We have — I would say — I’m taking this a little bit broader — I would say the types of things that you’ve heard us and, quite frankly, administrations in the past discuss as unhelpful to moving this process along are — is any call for the incitement of violence. Again, I mentioned the State Department — reiterated the State Department’s guidance on what we believed was unhelpful rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem as a real-time example of the type of action and rhetoric that is not in any way productive and undermines the trust that’s needed for both of these sides to sit down and directly address their issues and move forward on peace.

So where has the U.S. “condemned” the Palestinian violence? Not in any public briefing or statement so far.

Even if we did hold the Palestinians to the same standard as we do Israel, is a housing announcement concerning the Israeli capital really equivalent to a call to violence? That’s the question being ignored. Israel and its supporters would find such a notion preposterous. The Obami do not. But we’ve yet to see — despite the president’s comments — that they are even willing to extend the same condemnation language to their Palestinian friends.

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The Los Angeles Times on the Case

As we noted over the weekend, the letter Tom Campbell wrote to the University of South Florida in 2002 on behalf of Sami Al-Arian has snarled him in yet another controversy over his record on Israel and Islamic terrorism. Now the Los Angeles Times has perked up:

Campbell had previously conceded that he wrote a letter on Al-Arian’s behalf, but had said during a candidates’ debate Friday that he did so before Al-Arian’s interview with O’Reilly. His campaign’s website also said the letter was written before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The text of the letter showed otherwise. Dated Jan. 21, 2002, it said, ” . . . I respectfully wish to convey my sincere alarm that Professor Al-Arian may be treated harshly because of the substance of his views.”

Campbell went on to write that “I have formed this fear because of the paucity of evidence supporting the purported reasons for this discipline against him. I read a transcript of the ‘O’Reilly Factor’ interview last autumn, and I did not see anything whereby Professor Al-Arian attempted to claim he was representing the views of the University of South Florida.”

Now Campbell is changing his tune yet again:

On Monday, Campbell said in an interview that despite the language of his letter, he had never read the full transcript of the O’Reilly interview, specifically the “Death to Israel” language. If he had seen it, he said, he never would have written the letter.

“That’s too zealous,” he said. “Unacceptable. Calling for death to a country or individual is unacceptable.”

This is rather pathetic. He said in the interview that he wasn’t aware of Al-Arian’s inflammatory rhetoric. The letter says he was, in fact, aware of it. But now he says he really didn’t know, although he wrote that he did. This is the meticulous, smart guy his proponents defend? His campaign now states that Campbell’s memory is “foggy.” Perhaps it’s foggy on many counts, and the best thing for Campbell would be to review his own record, come up with a definitive defense for his votes to cut aid to Israel and his association with Islamic terrorists, and then hold a press conference and get it all out in the open. As Chuck DeVore’s campaign spokesman said, “Whether it’s absent-mindedness or deception — the only person who knows that for sure is Tom Campbell — there’s a pattern of inaccuracy whenever Tom Campbell ventures into these subjects. … We have to double-check everything he says about his past associations with these radicals because we can’t trust him to give us the whole truth.”

And when the issue migrates from Israel to terrorism to credibility, there’s a problem. California voters have much to consider, it seems.

As we noted over the weekend, the letter Tom Campbell wrote to the University of South Florida in 2002 on behalf of Sami Al-Arian has snarled him in yet another controversy over his record on Israel and Islamic terrorism. Now the Los Angeles Times has perked up:

Campbell had previously conceded that he wrote a letter on Al-Arian’s behalf, but had said during a candidates’ debate Friday that he did so before Al-Arian’s interview with O’Reilly. His campaign’s website also said the letter was written before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The text of the letter showed otherwise. Dated Jan. 21, 2002, it said, ” . . . I respectfully wish to convey my sincere alarm that Professor Al-Arian may be treated harshly because of the substance of his views.”

Campbell went on to write that “I have formed this fear because of the paucity of evidence supporting the purported reasons for this discipline against him. I read a transcript of the ‘O’Reilly Factor’ interview last autumn, and I did not see anything whereby Professor Al-Arian attempted to claim he was representing the views of the University of South Florida.”

Now Campbell is changing his tune yet again:

On Monday, Campbell said in an interview that despite the language of his letter, he had never read the full transcript of the O’Reilly interview, specifically the “Death to Israel” language. If he had seen it, he said, he never would have written the letter.

“That’s too zealous,” he said. “Unacceptable. Calling for death to a country or individual is unacceptable.”

This is rather pathetic. He said in the interview that he wasn’t aware of Al-Arian’s inflammatory rhetoric. The letter says he was, in fact, aware of it. But now he says he really didn’t know, although he wrote that he did. This is the meticulous, smart guy his proponents defend? His campaign now states that Campbell’s memory is “foggy.” Perhaps it’s foggy on many counts, and the best thing for Campbell would be to review his own record, come up with a definitive defense for his votes to cut aid to Israel and his association with Islamic terrorists, and then hold a press conference and get it all out in the open. As Chuck DeVore’s campaign spokesman said, “Whether it’s absent-mindedness or deception — the only person who knows that for sure is Tom Campbell — there’s a pattern of inaccuracy whenever Tom Campbell ventures into these subjects. … We have to double-check everything he says about his past associations with these radicals because we can’t trust him to give us the whole truth.”

And when the issue migrates from Israel to terrorism to credibility, there’s a problem. California voters have much to consider, it seems.

Read Less




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