In response to the murder of four Israelis by Arab terrorists, President Obama said the following: "[In this] tragedy...people were gunned down on the street by terrorists who are purposely trying to undermine these [Israeli-Palestinian peace] talks."
The aim of the terrorists, however, was not to stop peace talks. The attack occurred close to the same place where an Israeli policeman was shot in his car several months ago when there were no "peace talks." Israelis are frequently attacked on roads throughout Israel by rocks and fire bombs, sometimes by snipers. These attacks are not connected to any political or diplomatic process. Framing this attack as politically motivated distorts the nature and meaning of Arab terrorism against Jews.
President Obama went on to say:
The message should go out to Hamas and everybody else who is taking credit for these heinous crimes that this is not going to stop us from not only ensuring a secure Israel but also securing a longer-lasting peace in which people throughout the region can take a different course.
One might have expected him to say: "Those who commit such murders, and those who support them, will be brought to justice and punished to the fullest extent of the law," or "Unless the PA [Palestinian Authority] acts to eliminate terrorism and incitement there can be no progress in political, diplomatic or military cooperation. Actions speak louder than words."
But he did not, and he won't; because no matter what Arab terrorists do, the PA knows it has the support of many in America, Europe and the general international community.
President Obama's misunderstanding of, and therefore his failure to act against Arab terrorism is attributable to the mindset that terrorism is a response to specific causes. In Israel's case, the cause is the "occupation," which has become a tool to legitimize killing Jews and demonizing Israel.
The danger of linking terrorism to grievances is that it rationalizes murder and elevates those who perpetrate it. But those who carry out such acts are not driven by a sense of injustice, or rescuing humanity; they are homicidal criminals who seek to inflict the most damage to the largest number of people, regardless of who they are, or what beliefs they hold.
Arab terrorists, who plan and train meticulously, don't seek political compromises. Their goal is jihad; total elimination of Jews and the state of Israel. They don't think about a "peace process." They are committed to annihilation of their enemies. They see themselves as "martyrs," and are glorified by their communities, and by the PA.
This provides the psychological determination to perpetrate murder as an act of religious and political sanctification. And they are not alone, since most of the international community, and now President Obama, justify not only their means, but their end – a second Arab Palestinian state.
This is what President Obama did not understand about the controversial Islamic Center proposed to be built at Ground Zero. The situation is not about a mosque, but about what comes along with it. It's not about a building, or religious freedom; it's about full disclosure and transparency.
The author is a writer and journalist living in Israel.