How Samantha Power and John Kerry Encouraged Palestinian Terror

In 2016, fewer rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza than in any year since the Israeli withdrawal; the last several months of that year also saw a decline in lone-wolf terror attacks. Evelyn Gordon writes that these welcome developments were traceable to the deterrent effect of the 2014 war, the failures of terror to elicit Israeli concessions, and international condemnations of Palestinian incitement. But now, with the UN Security Council’s anti-settlement resolution, and the U.S. secretary of state’s lengthy speech indicting Israel, the situation has changed:

[By December, the Palestinian Authority] had begun ratcheting its anti-Israel incitement ever so slightly downward. But then came the UN resolution, followed by John Kerry’s speech on the peace process five days later, and the PA realized it no longer had to worry about incitement: the good old days, in which the world blamed Israel alone for the absence of peace, were back. The resolution, which wrongly deemed the settlements both illegal and an impediment to peace and demanded that all states take punitive action against them, . . . didn’t utter a word of criticism of the Palestinians.

True, it included a generic condemnation of incitement and terror, but without any mention of who was perpetrating said incitement and terror, allowing the Palestinians to claim that even this section was aimed solely at Israel. Kerry then reinforced the message by devoting the lion’s share of his speech to the settlements, with Palestinian incitement and terror coming only a distant second.

Consequently, the PA felt free to ramp its incitement back up to full force. And it did, to deadly effect. Shortly before the resolution passed, for instance, a Jerusalem Post reporter who asked more than two-dozen east Jerusalem Palestinians what they thought of reported plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem couldn’t find a single one who cared. But then the PA, bolstered by the resolution and Kerry’s speech, ordered all imams under its control to devote their sermons on Friday, January 6 to why the embassy move was unacceptable and would/could/should lead to violence. After all, the world could hardly object to that. Kerry himself had said exactly the same thing. And on January 8, an east Jerusalem Palestinian carried out the car-ramming that killed four soldiers. His relatives said he did so after hearing a local imam assail the proposed embassy move in his Friday sermon.

Read more at Evelyn Gordon

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, Palestinian terror, Samantha Power, U.S. Foreign policy

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy