By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org
The next time you visit the American consulate in Jerusalem, the heavily armed men whom you think are there to protect you may actually be Palestinian terrorists.
The consulate’s chief security officer, Dan Cronin, has decided to hire 35 Palestinian security guards, some of whom are former terrorists, according to Ynet, the English-language website of the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
Some of the new hires “have been arrested in the past for throwing stones,” as Ynet put it. In other words, they were caught trying to stone Jews to death. One “senior Palestinian adviser” to the consul-general “served time in Israeli prison because of membership in the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization).” Another is related to a Hamas leader in Jerusalem, Mohammed Hassan Abu Tir, who has served “numerous sentences” for terrorist activity.
The new guards are now undergoing training in weapons and hand-to-hand combat at an American facility in the Palestinian Authority (PA)-ruled city of Jericho. Some have also undergone training in the United States.
To make matters worse, the hiring of the Palestinians is a blatant violation of an Israeli-American agreement. In 2011, Israel consented to the American consulate’s request to keep 100 guns on the premises, on condition that they are handled only by U.S. diplomats or veterans of the Israeli army.
Now, those guns are being handed over to those who tried to stone Jews to death and have served time in prison for their terror activity.
In a dose of bitter irony, one of the terror-guards’ duties will be to serve as “escorts to American diplomats’ convoys in the West Bank.” That’s ironic because of what happened the last time the U.S. turned to Palestinians for assistance with regard to a diplomatic convoy.
In October 2003, Palestinian terrorists attacked a convoy of U.S. diplomatic vehicles entering Gaza (they were going to award Fulbright scholarships to Palestinian students). Three American security men were murdered. At the time, PA chairman Yasser Arafat and his security services dragged their feet in the investigation, so the U.S. announced a $5-million reward for information leading to the capture of the terrorists.
Believe it or not, that was a radical step for the U.S., which has almost never offered rewards in cases of Americans killed by Palestinian terrorists. The PA was furious and Arafat’s National Security Adviser, Jibril Rajoub, publicly accused the U.S. of “blackmail.” To ease the American pressure, the PA quickly put four “suspects” on trial. But the proceedings were kept secret, and two months later, the PA reported that three of the suspects had “escaped.” What happened to the fourth is unclear. In 2010, John Parsons of Wayne, N.J., the brother of one of the victims, asked the FBI’s Victims’ Assistance Office for an update. It told him that it considers the case “closed” even though the killers were never punished.
It seems that the Jerusalem consulate has now adopted the attitude that if it can’t capture the terrorists who attacked the convoy, it should hire terrorists to “protect” more convoys. Sounds like the kind of “protection” one might be offered by the mafia.
The Jerusalem consulate’s official response to the Ynet report of its hiring plan was hardly reassuring. “We do not discuss security for our diplomatic delegation,” the consulate asserted, adding, “We coordinate our work with local authorities in a complete and ongoing manner.” A rubbery phrase such as “complete and ongoing” could, of course, mean anything.
Ynet lays the blame for the situation at the feet of Dan Cronin. It quotes sources as saying that the consulate security chief has shown “a callous attitude towards the Israelis” and has made “pro-Palestinian remarks.” They also say he is responsible for the recent firing of seven Israeli security personnel employed at the consulate. Three more Israeli security men have since resigned in protest from the consulate staff.
Whatever Cronin’s role, he is in the end an employee and representative of the U.S. State Department. He does not make his own foreign policy. The Obama administration makes the decisions. If the plan to put terrorists in charge of the Jerusalem consulate’s security goes forward, it is the policymakers in Washington who bear responsibility—and who should hear from outraged taxpayers.
Giving badges to terrorists doesn’t make them security guards, and paying them with American taxpayers’ money just adds to the outrage.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is a candidate on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the World Zionist Congress elections.
Download this story in Microsoft Word format here.