Sunday, January 12, 2014

12-Jan-14: Finally, fully justified outrage from State Department about killers being released to do more terrorism

Kerry in Saudi Arabia, January 5, 2014
[Image Source: State Department]
People whose lives have been personally damaged by the deeds of terrorists tend to be far more aware of the terrorist threats in their various forms. 

The victims of terror also pay much closer attention than others to the frequently silly and/or politically motivated statements of public figures about terrorism. As we see it (and the murder of our fifteen year-olddaughter places us solidly within the terror victims category), terrorism is mostly understood in shallow and factually-wrong ways, a reality that leads to cynical manipulation by people with power in the media and in political life. This has very serious consequences for all of us - not just for us victims.

Israel began a multi-stage process of releasing convicted Palestinian Arab murderers, all of them by common agreement terrorists, in the middle of 2013. Three release events have happened. A fourth is due in March. There is no doubt, to anyone following this sad process as closely as we do, that this has happened because the US State Department, under John Kerry, has wanted it to happen. The US strategy, and the government of Israel's willingness to go along with it rather than push back against the pressure from Washington is dismaying. The protests, accompanied by negligible media coverage, have attracted crowds overwhelmingly comprised of people who were themselves attacked by terrorists or whose family members were injured or killed in terror attacks. 

But the Israeli public, in the one and only opinion survey to have been published on this extremely contentious matter, has said it is overwhelmingly opposed to the process. [See "28-Jul-13: Releasing unrepentant killers: a massive 9.4% of Israelis are in favor".

Kerry and Abbas, December 2013 [Image Source]
We cannot know all the ins and outs of the role played by the State Department. What we do know, and have written about, makes plain that there is no small degree of hypocrisy at work here. Or in other words, politics

Readers can get a sense of this from a sampling of our posts on the matter. For instance "14-Sep-13: Memo to Secretary of State Kerry: Your staff need some urgent guidance"; "27-Aug-13: Justice devalued, lives demeaned, principles cheapened: the high price of freeing murderers"; "25-Aug-13: Wake up call for those who thought the terrorists are walking free for peace"; "19-Aug-13: Is the US State Department breaching its own policy on Palestinian Arab terrorists?"

Perhaps the single most galling aspect of this shabby ongoing scandal is the way the StateDepartment's spokesperson finds it impossible to say whether the convicted felons being freed at the behest of the State Department, some of whose victims were US citizens or women or elderly and frail Holocaust survivors, were in reality (a) freedom fighters; (b) political prisoners; or (c) terrorists lawfully convicted of their sickening and frequently brutal crimes. It's documented here, complete with video: "14-Aug-13: Are the Palestinian Arab murderers who are being released at this moment, freedom fighters or terrorists? Let's check with the State Department."

As baffling as this is for naive folk like us, it's harder still to comprehend when you see how our repeated and frequent letters, tweets and calls for the matter to be straightened out by State's people and/or Secretary Kerry remain ignored. No one in the US administration is willing to admit that they have taken a position on this serious matter. How hypocritical and dishonest is that?

This weekend, it got worse. Parts of the news media carried reports on Friday and Saturday clarifying that the US, and in particular its State Department, is outraged by the prisoner release. It regards the men being freed as "dangerous criminals against whom there is strong evidence linking them to terror-related crimes", and that their release, by means of political decisions and bypassing the criminal justice system, offends basic notions of how the law should work. And very bad things are going to result.

Kerry, November 2013 [Image Source]
Click on the news source, a CNN report, and you get a sense of State's spokespeople justifiably venting their spleen against highly politicized and cowardly decision making that harms not only the well-being of ordinary people but also the strategic interests of the United States. 

Sadly for us, State's people happen to be fuming about a political figure who has very little to do with the 104 killers whose releases are the cause of so much rejoicing and cynical ceremony-holding in Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority kingdom. 

Since we're mentioning Abbas, is it too early to assess how well the extorted freeing of the terrorists has gone in the 'peace process'? We offered an answer two weeks ago: "22-Dec-13: Delving into how those prisoner releases worked out". Today, there's more ["Infiery speech, Abbas rejects Jerusalem concessions", Times of Israel]:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a defiant message to Israel’s leadership and US mediators Saturday, telling cheering supporters that the Palestinians “won’t kneel” and won’t drop demands for a capital in East Jerusalem. Abbas’ unusually fiery speech highlighted the wide gaps between him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the outlines of a peace deal. It also raised new doubts about the chances of US Secretary of State John Kerry to bridge those gaps in coming weeks and come up with a framework for an agreement. [Times of Israel]
Kerry and Abbas [Image Source]
Abbas is known as someone averse to kneeling. This is perhaps why the man whose term of office as democratically-elected president of the Palestinian National Authority actually came to an ended on January 9, 2009 (yes, five years ago) took the brave step of unilaterally extending it on that date and has kept extending it ever since.

Not one to observe the finer points of conventional politics, he's reminding the State Department of just how close its strategy has brought all of us to the outbreak of peace.

In today's news, Abbas is quoted saying
  • There will be no peace without the Palestinian Arab capital being situated in east Jerusalem
  • He will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state
  • He will not continue the more-or-less moribund negotiations beyond the US-set target date of the end of April.
And for good measure: there will be no final agreement with Israel until every last Palestinian Arab prisoner has been released to the arms of the PA and Hamas [Ynet, December 21, 2013]
Other than that, and the fact that Israel and the Abbas regime were "far part apart in their positions when Kerry pressured them to resume talks in late July after a five-year break" [Times of Israel], virtually zero progress has been achieved since.

Unless of course you count the release of three-quarters of those 104 convicted murderers and Abbas, kissing and hugging them and proclaiming them as 'heroic brothers' [PMW]. This way, at least, we know beyond a doubt where Abbas and his government stand on the matter of terrorism.

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