Fifth Lesson of the Gaza War: Trust Obama’s Actions, Not His Words
“I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in the face of a goodwill effort to offer a ceasefire,” Secretary of State John Kerry declared on July 15.
Actually, there are a number of things that Secretary Kerry could be doing beyond issuing statements expressing dismay. The Obama Administration could take meaningful actions to show Hamas that there is a political price to be paid for its terrorism against Israel.
Let’s start with the money.
The United States gives $500-million each year (more than $10-billion since 1994) to the Palestinian Authority regime. Even after the PA earlier this year created a new unity government with Hamas – long designated by Washington to be a terrorist organization – the Obama Administration kept writing the checks.
How does the Administration justify maintaining a half billion dollars annual subsidy to a PA-Hamas coalition? By pretending that Hamas, the coalition partner, actually has nothing to do with the coalition. The individual functionaries in the government are not Hamas members but “technocrats,” the Administration insists. That’s the favorite new word of U.S. Mideast policymakers. Their theory – as absurd as this may sound – is that if someone is appointed by Hamas, but does not actually carry a laminated Hamas membership card in his wallet, then he’s just a “technocrat,” not a Hamas appointee.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki took this absurdity to a new level in her daily press briefing on July 7, by converting “technocrat” from a noun to a proper noun. She twice referred to the PA-Hamas regime as “the Technocratic Government,” as if that is its official name.
So here’s our first action item for Secretary Kerry: admit that Hamas is part of the PA-Hamas government, and stop giving it American taxpayer dollars.
What else could the Obama Administration do, aside from professing outrage at Hamas? Plenty.
1. Obama could insist that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas carry out a real crackdown on the Hamas terror cells that operate in PA-controlled territories. The New York Times reported on March 23 that Israeli troops entered the Jenin refugee camp in pursuit of terrorists because although Jenin is under the “full control” of the Palestinian Authority, “the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.” Yet those camps are the worst incubators of Hamas terrorist activity.
2. Secretary Kerry could also be calling America’s allies to demand that they make their financial aid to Gaza conditional on Hamas ceasing its terrorism.
3. The Obama Administration could stop pressuring Israel to remove security checkpoints in the Judea-Samaria (West Bank) territories – checkpoints that help capture Hamas terrorists.
4. The Administration could stop pushing Israel to ease up on its blockade of Gaza, a blockade that has prevented weapons and dual-use materials from reaching the Hamas regime.
5. The Administration could offer a reward for information leading to the Hamas terrorists who kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers, one of whom was an American citizen. For some inexplicable reason, the Rewards for Justice website, www.rewardsforjustice.net, still makes no mention of the kidnap-murder of 16 year-old Naftali Fraenkel. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California) have introduced bipartisan legislation requiring such a reward. It shouldn’t take Congress to force the Obama Administration to take such a simple and obvious step.
Strongly-worded condemnations of Hamas make for good sound bites, but unless backed by real action, they’re meaningless.
The fifth lesson from the Gaza war: It’s time for the Obama Administration’s actions against Hamas to speak louder than its words.
Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn are members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America