Even as we grieve and anguish over the wanton murders of three Jewish teenagers at the hands of Palestinian terrorists, we know we are far from the desolation and agony of their parents and families.
And though we mourn, we can take a measure of solace in the outpouring of concern over the fate of Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar. Around the world and across the Jewish religious and political spectrums, people were united in the hope the boys would return. Calls for prayer came from so many – even from those who long ago abandoned the practice. Sadly, that unity will doubtless soon fade. Yet we have had a window into what is possible.
Unfortunately, we must deal with some of the practical lessons of this tragedy. The murders did not happen in a vacuum. They followed a steady stream of anti-Israel incitement on the part of Israel’s “partner for peace,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
It is Mr. Abbas who has cheapened Jewish life in the eyes of Palestinians by calling convicted murderers of Jews “heroes” and “martyrs.”
It is Mr. Abbas who welcomed a batch of recently released terrorists with this high praise: “You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and homeland…. Your cause was and is still in our heart and minds. We see some of you out, and the rest will follow soon if God wills.”
It is Mr. Abbas who told another batch of released terrorists, “You will see the results of your struggle in the independent state with its capital Jerusalem.”
It is Mr. Abbas who stood on a stage with three released “heroes” on December 31, 2013: Jamal Abu Muhsin, who stabbed a 76-year-old Israeli civilian to death in 1991); Ahmad Kmeil, commander of a terrorist cell that murdered an Israeli soldier and 15 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel; and Na’im Al-Shawamreh, who placed a bomb in 1993 that killed a policeman trying to defuse it.
It is Mr. Abbas who has sanctioned the naming of buildings and roads in the memory of suicide bombers who caused the deaths of many Israeli civilians.
It is Mr. Abbas who has given financial grants to the families of convicted Palestinian murderers while they were imprisoned.
It is Mr. Abbas who offered “greetings of honor and esteem” to imprisoned mass murderers by name, including Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences.
And it is Mr. Abbas who only recently invited Hamas to join in a unity government – this despite Hamas’s refusal to renounce violence against the Jewish state or Israeli civilians.
All these things add up to a bright flashing signal that killing Israelis is virtuous and, given U.S. pressure on Israel to release even the most hardened jailed terrorists, can be undertaken with little long-term risk.
It is well past time for President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry to acknowledge the reality of Palestinian intentions and incitement and to end the pressure on Israel to make self-defeating and unrequited concessions to Mr. Abbas.
By consciously ignoring Mr. Abbas’s penchant for lionizing the killers of Israelis, the administration has in a sense become complicit in encouraging further murders. It is nothing short of mind-boggling that the U.S. has still not withdrawn its agreement to work with the new Fatah/Hamas unity government. One wonders what it will take for the administration to finally cut Mr. Abbas loose.