Monday, October 28, 2013

28-Oct-13: A moment before more terrorist beasts are freed, questions for the State Department

Ramallah, August 14, 2013: The usually taciturn Mahmoud Abbas
basks in the credit of bring the murderers of children and old men back
to where they so rightly belong [Image Source: WAFA]
A week ago, we wrote here ("21-Oct-13: Incredibly, maddeningly, convicted terrorists are about to be freed again") about some life-and-death themes that we said we are not afraid to harp on.

With no apology (sorry!), we're harping on them again now. Someone must.

The brief extract in the following paragraph comes from a media briefing that took place at the State Department in Washington on August 14, 2013. The full official transcript and a video are linked here. 

We believe it's an accurate snapshot of how the Obama administration looks at the killers and other convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists about to be launched back out onto the streets.
Persistent reporter: Most of these people have been convicted of murder, of killing people. And the Israelis are very clear on the fact that they think that these people are terrorists, even though they’re releasing them. The Palestinians say that they are political prisoners and... have instructed their ambassadors, all their representatives around the world to refer to them as freedom fighters, political prisoners. And I want to know, if you don’t have a position... if there isn’t anything that you call them, do you object to the Palestinians referring to them as freedom fighters?  
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf: The answer is, I don’t know and I will endeavor to get an answer for you on that as well. 
We find it deeply worrying that Ms Harf and the State Department are not sure whether those convicted killers of Israelis, men who have been in prison for years, are freedom fighters or political prisoners. Or whether they are indeed terrorists as the justice system in Israel determined. 

It's frankly more worrying still that, as far as we can tell, they have not figured this out over the past three months. Either this is too hard, or no one was willing to bother. 

(For the record, Marie Harf, currently Deputy Spokesperson for the State Department and former spokeswoman for the CIA and the Obama presidential campaign, is hardly a Washington newcomer. Our sense is that if she had wanted to know the answer, this would not have taken that much time or effort.)

We have been in touch with the State Department via several channels since August 14, 2013, trying to get this clarified. In view of those failed efforts of ours, here is a request to our readers:
If anyone has heard the State Department's spokesperson clear up what she says she doesn't know about the terrorists, please tell us. If anyone is in touch with Marie Harf (@marieharf) please let her know the world wants to hear her pronounce a viewpoint on this issue. 
As incomprehensible as this may be, it seems the State Department's official spokesperson is still, today, officially in doubt about this painful and critically important matter. 

Also us to mention as well that an open letter we wrote along with other members of a non-political Israeli group called Bereaved Families for Peace and Justice was sent to Secretary of State John Kerry ["14-Sep-13: Memo to Secretary of State Kerry: Your staff need some urgent guidance"] the same day. 

As of today, that too remains unanswered though his office confirms it was received.

Now please consider this. When those first 26 unrepentant terrorists walked free, they were brought straight into a series of official Mahmoud Abbas-hosted PA public receptions where they were despicably, disgustingly, deplorably feted as heroes of their people, just as we feared and predicted. Has Abbas, Israel's "peace partner", been instructed by the Americans to avoid such obscene celebrations this time? If not, why not? 

Are public Palestinian Arab events, under the auspices of the PA president and honoring the people who were convicted of murdering strangers in cold blood, deemed OK by anyone? 

Is the United States government OK with them? 

UPDATE 1-Nov-2014: Oddly there's still no reply from Mr John Kerry or his spokesperson or anyone at all from the US State Department.

UPDATE 1-Nov-2015: No change 

UPDATE 1-Nov-2016: Sadly, the State Department people and the Secretary of State who leads them seem to have forgotten to give us an answer. Or else, as some friends have suggested, their silence on this life-and-death issue is their answer. But we don't think so. We're patient.

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