The U.S. State Dept. is not able to decide whether the 26 murderers and attempted murderers whom Israel freed early Wednesday morning are “terrorists,” “prisoners” or “freedom fighters.”
As Jewish Press journalist Lori Lowenthal Marcus wrote Tuesday in her profile of the State Dept.’s song and dance on whether Jewish “settlements” are “illegal “ or “illegitimate,” Associated Press reporter Matt Lee also wanted to know how the United States agrees with the Palestinian Authority title of freed terrorists as “political prisoners.”
A rose is a rose is a rose, but Gertrude Stein isn’t around today, when a murderer is a freedom fighter.
“Most of these people have been convicted of murder, of killing people, and the Israelis are very clear on the fact that they think that these people are terrorists,” Marcus quoted Lee as saying. “The Palestinians say that they are political prisoners, and…they have instructed their ambassadors, all their representatives around the world, to refer to them as freedom fighters, political prisoners.
“Do you object to the Palestinians referring to them as political prisoners?’ Lee asked State Dept. deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.
He response was, “I do not have a position on that.”
The State Dept. indeed has to be careful about every word it uses regarding the Palestinian Authority’s demands. Every word is placed under a microscope by each side and by the predominantly pro-PA media.
As yesterday’s article by Marcus clearly illustrated, the State Dept. refused to be backed into a corner by Lee when it comes to defining settlements as illegal. Doing so would effectively be a position that Israel’s borders are those that existed under the Temporary Armistice Lines in 1949 until the Six-Day War in 1967.
State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf settled for the not very complimentary word of “illegitimate.”
But the American government has no problem in labeling as a “settlement” every place where Jews live in Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights, and areas in Jerusalem claimed by the PA. The word itself is a disguise for “illegal” because “settlements” that are legal are called cities and towns.
The United States even uses the word “settlement” to describe the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo and Ramot, each of which are home to more than 50,000 Jews.
At least the State Dept. does not call Gilo an “outpost,” but the word “settlement” implies is should not part of Israel.
The U.S. government does have a serious problem of stating where the capital of Israel is located. It does not place the capital as Tel Aviv, where the American and virtually every other foreign embassy is located. It also does not call Jerusalem the capital, and it even refuses to allow Americans living in Israel to state on their U.S. passports that their residence or their children’s birthplace is “Jerusalem, Israel.”
If it were to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it would open up a can of worms, very violent worms, with the Arab world by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem as its capital. Of course, the United States could simply state that Jerusalem, based on the old borders, is Israel’s capital. But even that would be too much for the Arab world to swallow, out of fear that such recognition might leave open the future possibility of acknowledging the entire city as Israeli.
But what is the United States’ problem with stating that murderers are not freedom fighters or just plain “prisoners,” even if not terrorists? Calling them “political prisoners” would be an outrage to any sane person in the Western world. Recognizing them by either term would be a justification for terror.
Would that affect the outcome of the talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Calling them terrorists would imply that the Palestinian Authority employs terror, and that would contradict the ugly lie that the State Dept. perpetuates with the claim that Abbas has stopped terror, even though it is the IDF that has been mainly responsible for the decrease, but not the eradication, of terror.
The U.S. government, outside of the Congressional branch, has never condemned Abbas for glorifying terrorists and his official media for encouraging “martyrdom.”
When Lee asked, “If there isn’t anything that you call them, do you object to the Palestinians referring to them as freedom fighters?” spokeswoman Harf replied, “The answer is I don’t know, and I will endeavor to get an answer for you on that as well.”
Stay tuned, but rest assured that although a rose is a rose is a rose, a terrorist is not a terrorist and a murderer is not a murderer.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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