Prussian General Carl von Clausewitz famously said, “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” Hamas’s strategy of launching missile attacks on Israel, while showcasing Palestinian casualties, fits this description.
The latest round of warfare with Israel obviously wasn’t the terrorist organization’s attempt at military victory; as expected, Israel crushed the group militarily. The aim of its attack was to score a political win. Judging by the actions of the Biden administration before and after “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” Hamas succeeded at this goal, making further attacks from Gaza more likely.
The reasons given as the impetus for Hamas’s initiation of the latest round of fighting were: the cancellation of the elections by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas; a court ruling on the removal of six Palestinian-Arab tenants, who haven’t paid rent to the Jewish owners of the apartments they have been occupying in the Shimon Hatzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem; and the Israeli raid on the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, after it was discovered that rocks were being stored there and then used as weapons on police and Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall.
On May 9, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, and told him that the U.S. was concerned about Israeli actions in Sheikh Jarrah and on the Temple Mount. Ben-Shabbat reportedly responded that “international intervention is a reward to the Palestinian rioters and those who back them who were seeking international pressure on Israel.” Emboldened by U.S. pressure on Israel, Hamas launched the first barrage the following day.
In the aftermath of the 11 days of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel and decided to intervene in Israel’s legal system and internal affairs by publicly stating that he opposes the eviction of the Sheikh Jarrah tenants.
This is despite the fact that the Jewish family ownership title of the apartments, in place since 1875, is not in dispute. The Palestinian-Arab families are either squatters or descendants of tenants and are all living there for free. Blinken’s biased position, which runs counter to basic laws of property ownership, plays right into the hands of and rewards both Hamas and Arab rioters in Israel.
Blinken further encouraged the latter by calling for the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in eastern Jerusalem, despite U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israeli opposition to the move.
Nor will Hamas have to pay to rebuild Gaza, despite indiscriminately firing more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli population centers; Blinken indicated that the United States will help finance the Strip’s rehabilitation. Yet, all previous efforts at rehabilitation in the Iran-backed enclave have resulted in the diversion of funds to Hamas. And it’s highly unlikely that this time will be any different, which means, in essence, that the United States will be financing terrorism.
After 9/11, former President George W. Bush proclaimed a clear moral policy in his justification of the United States going to war in Afghanistan: that America will treat terrorists and those providing them safe haven as equally culpable. In contrast, the Biden administration has reverted to the previous failed policies of the Obama and Clinton administrations of providing funds to terrorist entities in order to appease them. As history repeatedly has illustrated, the result will be more terrorism.
Hamas is a terrorist entity openly committed to Israel’s destruction. Article 7 of its Covenant, which is full of unabashed vitriolic anti-Semitism, calls for the murder of all Jews.
The alternative Palestinian-Arab entity is led by Abbas, who actively engages in a policy of “pay for slay,” providing huge financial incentives for anyone who murders Jews and Americans. Hundreds of millions of dollars are given each year by the P.A. to such terrorists—a policy that eventually led to the Taylor Force Act, aimed at cutting American aid to the P.A.
The Biden administration is now attempting to bypass the Taylor Force Act, currently renewing massive aid to the P.A., despite its failure to cease rewarding terrorists and their families—like that of Bashar Masalha, who murdered American Taylor Force in Jaffa, during a visit to Israel by then-Vice President Joe Biden. This aid is effectively supporting murder and those who perpetrate it.
On Dec. 19, 1997, I represented the National Council of Young Israel in a conference call with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. I used my one chance for a question to ask why the U.S. had changed its policy on pursuing terrorists who murder Americans. The Clinton administration was not pursuing Mohammed Deif, who at the time was residing in a safe haven in Gaza provided by PLO chief Yasser Arafat.
Albright responded that the U.S. had not changed its policy on terrorists who murder Americans, but that she didn’t know anything about Deif. Her answer was quite shocking, as President Bill Clinton had visited the grave of dual U.S.-Israeli citizen Nachshon Wachsman in March 1996, and personally promised his family that the U.S. would go after Deif—the Hamas mastermind behind the murders of hundreds of Israelis and Americans. On March 26, 1997, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk had written the Wachsman family that the “arrest of Mohammed Deif … remains a high priority for the U.S. government.”
In February 1998, I was able to once again ask a question of Albright and again inquired about Deif. This time. she responded that she had raised the issue in a recent meeting with Arafat, as did President Clinton, declaring Deif a fugitive, and that the U.S. was actively pursuing the matter.
Arafat put Deif under protective detention in the spring of 2000, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called for his extradition to the United States. In August 2000, Haaretz reported that President Clinton had promised Jewish leaders that the U.S. would arrest Deif. Clinton failed to keep his promise, however. Despite meeting with Arafat numerous times, he never used the $500 million that he was providing Arafat as leverage to obtain Deif’s extradition.
It’s not surprising, then, that Arafat launched the Second Intifada—resulting in mass Israeli civilian casualties—during the Clinton administration, which neither cut aid nor ceased meeting with the PLO chief.
Deif is the current head of Hamas’s military wing. He is responsible for hundreds of Israeli deaths and many American ones, as well. This tragic lesson should have been a warning to all future administrations.
Nevertheless, Biden is repeating the failed appeasement policies of Clinton and Obama, giving money to the P.A., despite its providing not only safe havens to terrorists who murder Americans, but actual financial incentives for them to do so.
The Biden administration has further exacerbated the situation by taking political positions like opposing Jewish property rights in Jerusalem and calling for the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in eastern Jerusalem—thereby rewarding Palestinian-Arab rioters and Hamas rocket attacks on civilians.
U.S. policy needs to return to one of moral clarity, recognizing clear evil and treating it as such. The Biden administration policy of appeasement is not only immoral but encourages and emboldens perpetrators of evil, allowing them to achieve their political goals.
It’s not surprising that such large-scale attacks didn’t occur during the Trump administration, as Hamas and the P.A. knew full well that they wouldn’t achieve any political gain from launching them.
Only the failure of Hamas and the rioters to achieve political gain from their actions would deter further bloodshed. Biden and other world leaders must immediately change course, or Israel and the world may face the tragic consequences of a new era of emboldened global terror.
Farley Weiss, former president of the National Council of Young Israel, is an intellectual property attorney for the law firm of Weiss & Moy. The views expressed are the author’s, and not necessarily representative of NCYI.