U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel for a two day visit on Tuesday, March 8. Shortly after Biden’s arrival in the region the day before, American graduate student Taylor Force was murdered by a Palestinian Arab terrorist in Jaffa, just blocks away from where Biden was meeting at the Peres Peace Center in Tel Aviv.
On Wednesday, Biden joined with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Jerusalem. Both politicians condemned the terrorist attacks that took place in Israel the day before, with a special emphasis on the brutal murder of Taylor Force, the Texas-born Vanderbilt business school student and U.S. Army vet and West Point graduate.
Biden called on Mahmoud Abbas and the rest of the Palestinian Arab leadership and the entire international community to denounce terrorist attacks against Israelis, including the one in which Force was murdered, his wife was badly injured, and 11 others were wounded, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms: The U.S. condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts,” Biden said.
But when Biden met with Mahmoud Abbas, the acting head of the Palestinian Authority, later in the day, Abbas pointedly did not do what Biden had insisted he should have done: he did not condemn the murders that Biden had condemned only hours before.
Instead, Abas offered condolence over the death of the American — as if the man died of some cause having nothing to do with Abbas — and then slid into assigning blame for the outrage. Not surprisingly, the Arab leader’s blame finger pointed only at Israel.
The usual suspects were trotted out by Abbas: the “occupation,” the “settlements,” and all kinds of ugly Israeli meanness are what Abbas blamed for the violence that led to Force’s death. Abbas also assumed his typical stance: that of victimhood.
Abbas told Biden that ‘”Israel has ‘killed 200 Palestinians in the past five months,” neglecting to mention that the vast majority of those were perpetrators of attacks or attempted attacks on Israelis.
Of course, this question now hangs in the air: having condemned “the failure to condemn these acts,” will Vice President Biden, or any member of the current administration, actually confront the fact that Palestinian leader Abbas in fact “fail[ed]” to issue any such condemnation? And because the answer to that question is obvious, here’s another: doesn’t the Obama administration deserve to be condemned for failing to condemn Abbas’s failure to condemn?Lori Lowenthal Marcus