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Israeli media headlined on Wednesday, and AP even reported, that the State Department had admonished a Palestinian Authority official for claiming that Jews have no real connection to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Instead, PA Deputy Information Minister Al-Mutawakel Taha had written in an official PA “study” that the 2000-year-old Western Wall of Herod’s Temple, which predates Islam by about six centuries, is actually an Islamic waqf (religious endowment).
State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley called this “factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative.” He added: “We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of delegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land.”
If, though, the U.S. has repeatedly raised such issues with the PA, it has been very quiet about it. That was why Crowley’s unusual public rebuke drew such notice.
Even so, there was less here than meets the eye. The news about Taha’s “study” broke on Monday last week, and since then it has been roundly condemned by Jewish organizations and members of Congress. Yet it took the administration till Tuesday—eight days after the fact—to get around to doing so, leading the PA to remove the study from an official website while still claiming hackers were responsible.
This contrasts with President Obama’s recent instantaneous criticism of Israel from the venue of Muslim Indonesia for announcing plans to build homes in Jerusalem for Jews. And that was only one of many such cases, most notably the administration’s fierce temper tantrum at Israel—also for plans for Jewish housing in Jerusalem—last March.
That said, there is a method to the administration’s madness.
If, after all, one buys the Palestinians’ claim that Jewish building in Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace, one is likely to be blind—or willfully blind—to the Islamic supremacism from which such a claim stems.
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