(March 6, 2023 / JNS) A long-delayed U.S. State Department assessment of Joe Biden’s disastrous first year as president, which by law should have been issued by April 30, 2022, was quietly released on Feb. 27.
One can sympathize with the authors of “The Country Reports on Terrorism 2021.” After all, how could they explain such policy calamities as the restoration of U.S. payments to the Palestinian Authority, the willful blindness of appeasing Iran in the hopes of reviving the failed nuclear deal, and especially, the fiasco of the Afghanistan withdrawal?
The section titled “Israel, West Bank, Gaza” shows that the State Department is back to its fantasies about a trustworthy and righteous Palestinian Authority, and overt hostility to Israel.
Among the curious expressions of praise for the former, the CRT asserts: “P.A. security forces and the IDF continued counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts in parts of the West Bank, where U.S.-designated [Foreign Terrorist Organizations] such as Hamas, PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] and the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] operated. P.A. security forces constrained the ability of those organizations to conduct attacks, including arresting Hamas members.”
This is false. The P.A. only constrains Hamas, PIJ and the PFLP from attacking the P.A.—and it barely does that.
The document strains credulity when it claims that “P.A. security forces continue to proactively arrest individuals planning attacks against Israeli targets or those suspected of supporting terrorist organizations, and continue to arrest Palestinians wanted for weapons smuggling or illegal weapons possession.”
Malarkey, as Biden might say. The P.A. does exactly the opposite, inciting murder, fomenting violence and then paying those who carry out the violence. Even its educational system is designed to incite violence against Israelis.
While the P.A. is whitewashed in the report, Israel is condemned. For instance, the report cites unnamed “Israeli human-rights organizations and media reports” to assert that “Israeli settlers living in the West Bank committed a variety of physical attacks, property damage and ‘nationalistic’ crimes against Palestinians.”
Calling these alleged crimes “nationalistic” demonstrates the State Department’s deference to Palestinian nationalism and hostility to Israeli nationalism.
Even a brief moment of praise for Israel drives home the Biden agenda: “Israeli National Police and the Ministry of Defense announced a series of measures, including reform of the police unit responsible for handling far-right violent extremism in the West Bank.”
Apparently, no one at the State Department thought it odd that the Bureau of Counterterrorism now prioritizes “Israeli settler terrorism” in a land teeming with Palestinian terrorist groups.
Citing the ever-reliable “U.N. monitors,” the report counts “496 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians, including 370 attacks that resulted in property damage and 126 attacks that resulted in casualties, three of which were fatal.”
There are three paragraphs describing so called Israeli “settler attacks” against Palestinians but only a single sentence on the 4,000-plus missiles that Hamas fired at Israel in May 2021, and no mention of the incredible restraint that Israel showed in “Operation Guardian of the Walls.”
The State Department faults Israel alone for any violence between Israelis and Palestinians, claiming that “Israeli security personnel often did not prevent settler attacks and rarely detained or charged perpetrators of settler violence,” yet it barely mentions the P.A.’s “pay-to-slay” program and the Biden administration’s reneging on the Taylor Force Act by continuing to fund the killers of Israelis and Americans.
Curiously, the “Middle East and North Africa” section of the report does not have a sub-section devoted to Iran—unlike Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
However, Iranian-funded terrorism is covered in the foreword and in the second chapter on “State Sponsors of Terrorism” alongside Cuba, North Korea and Syria, in which Iran is described as the prime source of terrorism in the world.
Why then did the Biden administration spend most of 2021 sending Robert Malley on a fool’s errand to revive the feckless Iran nuclear deal?
The State Department has a long and sordid record of hostility to Israel and advocacy for Arab, especially Palestinian, nationalism. Under former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the Obama administration, it courted Iran like an unrequited lover.
Not too long ago, however, when Nathan Sales ran the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Mike Pompeo was Secretary of State, things were changing for the better. Fantasies of a peaceful Palestinian state living side by side with Israel had subsided, and American Iranian policy had gone from naive appeasement to maximum pressure.
But now, with Christopher A. Landberg running the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, the State Department has reverted to its default anti-Israel bias.
They must be celebrating in Tehran and Ramallah.
A.J. Caschetta is a Ginsberg-Milstein fellow at the Middle East Forum and a principal lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
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