When Rex Tillerson was nominated for Secretary of State, the pro-Israel community harbored concerns about Tillerson’s reported closeness to Jim Baker, ties to Arab states such as terrorism-financier Qatar, and minimal knowledge about the Arab war against Israel. Still, we hoped those nagging concerns would prove unfounded, and that Tillerson would implement President Trump’s anti-terrorism, pro-Israel policies, and drain the notoriously biased-against-Israel swamp at the State Department.
Unfortunately, the State Department’s new anti-Semitic, Israel-bashing, falsehood-filled "Country Reports on Terrorism 2016" (issued July 2017) — which blames Israel for Palestinian Arab terrorism against innocent Israelis — has caused us to lose confidence in Secretary Tillerson’s ability to promote President Trump’s Mideast agenda.
President Trump’s courageous speech in Riyadh appropriately blamed extreme barbaric Islamist ideologies for terrorism targeting innocent Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The president sensibly insisted that we must "honestly confront the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires" and "cut off the financial channels" that enable terrorism.
Thus, stopping worldwide terrorism requires honestly confronting Islamist genocidal incitement to murder Jews. There cannot be a double standard when Jews are the victims. Because every method that Palestinian Arabs "pioneered" for murdering Jews — suicide bombing, truck ramming — is copied by terrorists in Boston, Nice, and elsewhere.
We must honestly confront Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ Islamist incitement and unconscionable $355 million per year of "pay to slay" martyr payments incentivizing Palestinian Arabs to murder Jews.
Disturbingly, the State Department terrorism report never even mentions that the PA pays terrorists to murder Jews. Shockingly, the report instead re-characterizes the PA’s heinous payments as helpful "financial packages to Palestinian security prisoners . . . to reintegrate them into society."
If we are serious about stopping terror, we must also honestly confront that Abbas has been inciting the ongoing deadly wave of terror by repeatedly rebroadcasting his Islamist call to spill blood to prevent Jews’ and Christians’ "filthy feet" from "defiling" Jewish and Christian sites in Jerusalem, that the Muslims are claiming as their own. We must honestly confront the PA leadership’s constant incitement against Israel and Jews in PA schools, children's camps, mosques, newspapers and media.
Instead of confronting these issues, the State Department terrorism report lies. It whitewashes the PA, falsely asserts that explicit PA calls for violence are "rare" and that the PA "leadership generally does not tolerate it." Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL), in his July 20 letter to Tillerson, correctly called those assertions "demonstrably false."
Congressman Roskam wrote: "The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism . . . At the highest level, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership incites, rewards, and, in some cases, carries out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis. In order to effectively combat terrorism, it is imperative that the United States accurately characterize its root cause — PA leadership. . . ."
Absurdly, instead of acknowledging that PA incitement causes Palestinian Arab terror, the State Department terrorism report instead wrongly blames "lack of hope in achieving statehood" (although Palestinian Arabs repeatedly rejected generous statehood offers in 2000, ’01, ’08); "Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank" (an excuse that says the very presence of Jews living in the historic, legally designated Jewish homeland justifies killing Jews); "settler violence" (although this is virtually non-existent); "the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount" (although PA President Abbas’s "filthy feet" incitement caused this false "perception"); and "IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive" (although IDF anti-terrorism methods are humane, reasonable, and necessary steps such as weapons checkpoints and arresting murderers).
The State Department report also woefully under-reports the number of Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists, and tries to turn incidents of Jewish teenagers painting graffiti into capital cases, while ignoring and downplaying the real capital cases of Palestinian Arabs murdering and maiming Jews. (Since the current wave of terror began in September 2015, Palestinian terrorists have murdered 52 Jews and Americans and wounded 789 Jews, and cause Israelis enormous stress simply walking the streets and going shopping).
Interestingly, the State Department report’s litany of falsehoods and false excuses for Palestinian Arab terrorism come straight from false anti-Israel UN reports, and an anti-Israel NGO that gives the UN false information. President Trump’s excellent Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley has been pushing the UN to retract those very same false reports!
Notably, Secretary Tillerson was previously involved in denying and sanitizing the PA’s horrendous financial rewards to terrorists. At a June 13 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Tillerson testified that he was informed that the PA had changed its pay-to-slay policy. PA officials immediately contradicted Tillerson’s testimony, and told Reuters that the PA’s "martyr" payments to terrorists "are not going to be stopped."
In the wake of the fact that the PA is still paying Arabs to murder Jews, it is shocking that the State Department report still whitewashed PA payments that help drive terrorism.
We need a State Department that honestly confronts the PA’s genocidal Islamist ideology and incitement. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is incapable of leading such an effort and must be replaced.
Morton A. Klein is the President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Elizabeth Berney, esq. is ZOA’s Director of Special Projects.
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