Palestinian leaders were howling on Sunday after a prominent Israeli rabbi concluded his weekly sermon a day earlier by asking God to strike down Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and all other Palestinians who hate Israel.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas political party, was finishing his annual pre-Rosh Hashanah address when he recited the traditional prayer that includes the line "may those who hate us be finished." He then reportedly noted that Abbas and the Palestinians hate Israel, and therefore God should send a plague upon them.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat wasted no time claiming that a leading Israeli rabbi was advocating the "genocide of the Palestinian people," and calling Yosef's remarks "an absolute insult to our efforts to progress the peace process." He insisted that Israel's Knesset officially denounce Yosef.
Hilmi al-Ghoul, a top advisor to Abbas, told reporters that Yosef's sermon "teaches us of the dangerous nature of the Israeli language of incitement and racism, which has spread not only to political circles but also in religious ones."
US State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley predictably issued a statement in line with the Arab outrage.
"We regret and condemn the inflammatory statements by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef... [which are] not only deeply offensive, but incitement such as this hurts the cause of peace," said Crowley. "As we move forward to relaunch peace negotiations, it is important that actions by people on all sides help to advance our effort, not hinder it."
The level of hypocrisy in the Palestinian reactions was astounding, considering the documented calls to murder not only Israelis but all Jews that are made in Palestinian mosques every Friday. Often those murderous Islamic sermons are broadcast on official Palestinian Authority television.
On top of that, the Palestinian education system continues to demonize Israel and the Jews, and PA-sponsored summer camps, public squares and soccer teams are still being named after the terrorists who have managed to murder the most Israeli Jews. Case in point - at least two Palestinian summer camps this year were named after Dalal Mughrabi, the female terrorist who led the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre in which 37 Israelis were killed, the single largest terrorist attack in Israel's history. Abbas also hosted a Ramallah street party that honored Mughrabi, and earlier renamed one of the de facto Palestinian capital's streets after the murderess.
The difference between Rabbi Yosef's remarks and the incitement practiced by the Palestinian Authority is that Yosef was asking God to deal with Israel's enemies, while the Palestinians are being encouraged to themselves take up arms and kill Jews.
The American response was only slightly less two-faced. The State Department has never issued such a strong condemnation of a Palestinian cleric for incitement against Israelis (it would have to do so on a weekly basis if it were being balanced). The US has also failed to strongly address the hateful propaganda in Palestinian schools and society which are not, as Crowley put it, actions that help to advance peace.
As long as such double standards and hypocrisy are mainstays of the peace process, it is guaranteed that the conflict will persist, regardless of the signing of a new piece of paper.