The Obama Administration this week harshly criticized the Palestinian Authority over a report by its Ministry of Information asserting that the Jews have no historical or religious ties to the Temple Mount or its western retaining wall, also known as the Western Wall or Wailing Wall.
The criticism worked in forcing the Palestinians to back down, but raised other concerns and questions.
“Regarding a claim by a senior Palestinian Authority official that the Western Wall is an Islamic Waqf, we strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative,” US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters.
Crowley said the US continues to press the Palestinian leadership to stop assisting the de-legitimization of Israel and the denial of “historic Jewish connections to the land.”
A day later, the report disappeared from the PA Ministry of Information website. Ministry officials originally claimed that hackers had broken into the website and removed the report, but a Palestinian source later admitted to The Jerusalem Post that it was taken down in compliance with US demands.
Unfortunately, the White House has not been so firm when it comes to the official Palestinian school curriculum, which is training a whole new generation of Palestinians to believe that the Jews simply don’t belong in this region, and stole this land from them. While a public PA report on the Western Wall cannot go unanswered, it seems Palestinian schoolbooks are more comfortably low-profile, and therefore do not warrant such a response.
It is also frustrating to many Israelis that the US and other Western power brokers do not attach the same weight to complaints over official Palestinian de-legitimization of Israel as they do to Palestinian complaints over the Jews building homes in areas claimed by the Palestinians. To Israelis, denying their right to exist as a nation is far more of an obstacle to peace than a few Jewish apartments in towns and neighborhoods that are already overwhelmingly Jewish.
And that also raises questions, for both Israelis and Palestinians, regarding the sincerity of the American government’s “outrage” over Palestinian de-legimitization of Jewish historical claims. On the one hand, Washington insists it is wrong for the Palestinians to say the Jews have no historic ties to this land, but then the Obama Administration turns around and condemns Jewish building on “occupied Palestinian lands” as a crime.
Israelis see this approach as two-faced. Palestinians see it as an indication that Washington only opposes their public de-legitimization efforts in order to placate the Jews, but privately supports their view that the State of Israel should never have been established.
Either way, by being so wishy-washy, the US government is not contributing to peace, and is actually driving the two sides further apart.