politics to go

Very different US reactions to Hamas


The American government’s reaction to this weekend’s Hamas rocket barrage and Israeli self-defense was much different than that of the Obama administration.

The response of the ever-growing list of Democratic Party presidential candidates was also unusual.

The Trump administration’s reaction to the conflict was similar to that of the previous administration, with one significant difference: there was no “but,” “both sides,” or admonitions to “show restraint.”

With each conflict between Israel and Hamas during the Obama administration would come a declaration that the United States supported Israel’s right to defend herself. But it wouldn’t end there; it would add a false equivalency statement inferring that both sides were responsible for the violence.

The 2014 conflict began with a Hamas rocket barrage. Amid the rocket attacks, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told the media, “No country should be expected to stand by while rocket attacks from a terrorist organization are launching into their country.”

She continued, “At the same time, in the secretary’s conversation, in the conversations of all of our senior administration officials, they’ve been encouraging all sides to deescalate the situation.”

That statement neglected the fact that for “all sides to deescalate,” Hamas had to stop firing rockets.

This past Saturday, as Hamas fired rockets into Israel, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortega provided a statement to the press: “The United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel. We call on those responsible for the violence to cease this aggression immediately. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to self-defense against these abhorrent attacks.”

Jason Greenblatt, Special Assistant to the President for Special Negotiations, added his two cents on Twitter: “Hamas & PIJ have engaged in yet another deplorable act of terrorism, indiscriminately firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilian communities. The U.S. stands firmly in support of Israel’s right to self-defense and we call on the international community to do the same.”

No false equivalency between the two sides in either of those statements.

Five years ago, the AP reported that then-President Obama “condemned the rocket attacks and said Israel has the right to self-defense. But Obama also urged both sides not to escalate the crisis and to restore calm.” Obama didn’t seem to care that only one side could restore calm — Hamas, who started the conflict and continued the violence by firing rockets into southern Israel.

On Sunday, as Hamas launched rockets at Israel, President Trump tweeted a different message. “Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens … To the Gazan people — these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace — it can happen!”

Vice President Pence tweeted, “We strongly condemn the attacks in Gaza by Hamas terrorists. Israel has the absolute right to defend itself & the U.S. stands by our great ally Israel.”

Notice what’s missing? A call for “both sides” to restore calm.

As of this writing, there are twenty-one Democrats are running for the party’s nomination to face President Trump in 2020. During campaigns, even when candidates aren’t particularly friendly toward the Jewish state, they will usually condemn Hamas rocket attacks and, if necessary for their base, add a false equivalency statement. Perhaps another indication of the Democratic Party’s distance from Israel is the fact that as of Monday morning, not a single one of the twenty-one candidates mentioned the Hamas rocket attacks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been silent, as has the Senate Minority Leader, New York’s own Senator Chuck Schumer.

Perhaps Schumer was too busy trying to impeach the president or hold Attorney General Barr in contempt. Maybe he is only trying to impress the mullahs whom he delighted with his support for the Iran nuke deal.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democrat who represents NY’s 10th Congressional District, has also been silent about the attack on Israel. Nadler’s is the most Jewish congressional district in the country — 38% of his constituents are Jewish — making his silence strange (but then again, so was his vote in favor of the JCPOA).

Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Majority leader, made a strong statement in support of Israel that said in part, “Hamas must immediately stop launching rockets into Israel. The targeting of innocent communities is never acceptable, as is the exploitation of protected sites like schools and mosques by Hamas and its affiliates for the purpose of launching attacks. Israel has every right to defend itself against these rocket attacks from Gaza.”

But the new crop of congressional Democrats reflected the Democratic Party’s shift away from supporting Israel, a move that began long before they were elected. Rep. Ilan Omar (D-MN) tweeted, “How many more protesters must be shot, rockets must be fired, and little kids must be killed until the endless cycle of violence ends? The status quo of occupation and humanitarian crisis in Gaza is unsustainable.”

Occupation? Israel left Gaza in August 2005. I can personally confirm that fact because I was visiting Israel at the time. Perhaps Rep. Omar didn’t read the newspapers that day.

There is no cycle of violence. The violence starts and ends with Hamas. Since it took over in 2007, Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into a staging ground for rocket and terrorist attacks.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) objected to a New York Times headline, “Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets and Israel Responds With Airstrikes.” She tweeted out the headline and added, “When will the world stop dehumanizing our Palestinian people who just want to be free? Headlines like this & framing it in this way just feeds into the continued lack of responsibility on Israel who unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families.”

If she was impartial, Tlaib would understand that it is Hamas that is oppressing the people of Gaza.

The American administration’s reaction to Hamas rocket launches and Israel’s self-defense is much different in 2019. There is no equivocation. The Trump administration’s stance is that Hamas needs to stop firing rockets, and Israel’s self-defense is justified — period.

Supporters of Israel who will vote in the 2020 elections should carefully consider the silence of the twenty-one Democratic candidates. Their silence can only mean they are intimidated by the anti-Israel progressives who dominate their party. If they cannot muster a statement about Hamas rocket attacks as candidates, they will, G-d forbid, feel no need to support the Jewish state if they’re elected.