“The time has come for President Abbas to choose between hateful rhetoric and concrete and practical efforts to improve the quality of life of his people and lead them to peace and prosperity,” President Trump’s envoy to the Middle East Jason D. Greenblatt tweeted Monday night, in response to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ horrible insult against the highest US official in Israel.
That was not a reasonable response, certainly not in the Middle East. It was more the response of a negotiator infatuated with his mission who sees one of the parties throwing a tantrum, than the healthy response of a self-confident man who’s just seen one of his best friends being spat on.
What Greenblatt should have said was that every last American cent coming the PA’s way is stopped until the chairman gets on his hands and knees and apologizes.
It should be noted that the curse used by Abbas Monday night against US Ambassador David Friedman – “Son of a dog” – was harsher and more personal than the version used by many Western English language reports of the episode, the much milder, almost jovial “Son of a b***.” It’s true that the B word is still considered an expletive (even though it merely describes the female of the species Canis familiaris), but it’s a soft expletive.
Even when President Trump Saturday before last used it in public to describe NBC’s anchor [“Sleepy-eyed son of a b***”] Chuck Todd, he still did not pack into it the raw hatred Abbas did with his diatribe Monday night: “The US is lending legitimacy to settlements. That is what senior American officials have done who are led by their ambassador in Tel Aviv, David Friedman. He said: ‘They are building on their land.’ You son of a dog. They’re building on their land? He himself is a settler and his family are settlers,” Abbas cried. Angrily, hatefully, as if Friedman has personally robbed him, the “Ra’iss” (leader), for whom the very idea of Jews living anywhere in “Palestine” is a form of blatant desecration of everything he holds holy.
And it’s nothing like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s immortal—and humorous—1939 quip about his support for ruthless Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza: “He may be an SOB but he’s our SOB.”
When Abbas called Ambassador Friedman “son of a dog,” he also meant that Friedman is a dog. And the ambassador was absolutely on the money when he told the 6th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism Monday night: “Abbas chose to respond, I saw his response on my iPhone a few minutes ago. His response was to refer to me as son of a dog. Anti-Semitism or political discourse? Not for me to judge, I leave that all up to you.”
No country, especially not the country led by President Donald J. Trump, can forgive such a verbal assault. For one thing, it invites new assaults; and it makes America look weak. I’d have expected the president to take a short break from his attacks on the Mueller investigation and defend the good name of the brave man who represents him in Jerusalem.
Greenblatt certainly wasn’t. “Notwithstanding his highly inappropriate insults against members of the Trump administration, the latest iteration being his insult of my good friend and colleague Ambassador Friedman, we are committed to the Palestinian people and to the changes that must be implemented for peaceful coexistence. We are finalizing our plan for peace and we will advance it when circumstances are right.”
Or, as Charles Dickens would have put it, “Please, Sir, may I have another?”
Greenblatt’s choice not to declare that the Abbas slur effectively disqualified the elderly chief from ever being invited to the negotiations table has been described well by King Solomon (Proverbs 26:11): “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”
Be a man, Jason Greenblatt. Better yet, be a Jewish man.