The Hypocrisy of a Peace Process

The State Department takes 8 days to condemn Islamic supremacism, while Israeli settlements are instantly demonized.

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.

And that it is Islamic supremacism has become clear in recent weeks to all but the most staunchly self-deceiving Israelis. First UNESCO endorsed Palestinian claims that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem—shrines to the archetypal mothers and fathers of the Jewish nation—are “Palestinian” and the latter, indeed, a mosque.

From there it was only one further step to de-Judaizing, and Islamicizing, the Western Wall itself.

In other words, the reason the PA doesn’t like Jewish building—either current or ancient—in Jerusalem is that it doesn’t like the Jewish presence in the land at all.

Such an insight could, of course, shed light on why the “peace process” is nowhere and enable the administration to stop pressuring and berating Israel in the name of a chimera.

It could also clarify the link between the growing persecution of Christians in Iraq, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and elsewhere in the Middle East and the fundamental Palestinian rejection of Israel.

It is hard, though, to imagine the State Department, or the president, undergoing such a conceptual shift. More likely Crowley’s words were but a flash in the pan, prompted by a tide of anger at the PA that had risen too high to just ignore.

Some illusions can’t be dislodged even when reality stares them in the face.