Last Thursday three Israeli teens — Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19 — were kidnapped while hitchhiking home from school. Fraenkel is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel. Secretary of State John Kerry put out a statement:
The United States strongly condemns the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and calls for their immediate release. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. We hope for their quick and safe return home. We continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services. We understand that cooperation is ongoing. We are still seeking details on the parties responsible for this despicable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas’ involvement. As we gather this information, we reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnapping in the past.
Interestingly, Kerry did not mention that one of the kidnapped boys is also an American. Although he plainly indicated that Hamas was implicated and reiterated it is a terrorist group, U.S. policy continues to tolerate the unity Palestinian government, indeed suggesting this might be a good thing. Meanwhile the president has not spoken a word about the kidnapping in public – not even a hashtag from the first lady has been forthcoming.
Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tells Right Turn, “The administration’s silence on the West Bank kidnapping is surprising on two fronts. First, one of the abducted teens reportedly is a U.S. citizen. Second, the U.S. and Israel appear to agree that Hamas is involved, just weeks after Hamas-controlled Gaza reconciled with the West Bank Palestinian Authority.”
Perhaps the second point explains the first: If the administration made a big deal of the kidnappings it would call attention to its continued toleration of the unity government, comprised of the Palestinian Authority and the groups likely responsible for boys’ kidnapping. Then Congress and the American people might actually demand the United States give up on the fraudulent peace talks, stop pretending the unity government is simply made up of “technocrats” and start exerting pressure on Palestinian terrorists and its patrons in Tehran. An official of a pro-Israel group e-mails, “The kidnappings underscore the reality it is pure folly to consider the Palestinian Authority-Hamas alliance as a government of mere ‘technocrats.’ Unless one believes there is such thing as ‘technocratic terrorists’, Hamas has demonstrated once again that they are nothing more than a gang of Islamic extremists who are dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”
Taking a step back, the administration’s Israeli policy is only one portion of its incoherent approach to the Middle East. Hamas is supported by and increasing at the beck and call of the mullahs, Iran expert Ray Takeyh explained today at a panel on Iran sponsored by the group JINSA. We do nothing in Syria (an Iran client) and apparently want to talk to Iran about Iraq, where Iran has been stirring sectarian violence and seeks to dominate. And we expect to demonstrate to Iran and our Sunni allies that we are serious about Iran’s behavior in the region, not only its pursuit of nuclear weapons? They can be forgiven if they’ve jumped to the conclusion the United States is unwilling to directly take on Iran or those it supports.
The administration has refused to lead allies in two essential tasks in the region: Preventing an al-Qaeda terrorist state and preventing a nuclear-armed and aggressive Iran. Each time we ignore or downplay the egregious behavior of Iran and its surrogates, we signal were are unserious about the latter. And on the former we need the president to put aside his dream of “ending” war and start wining the current one. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on the Senate floor made a sound observation: “Now, I know the president likes to go around saying the war is over. But no one told ISIL that. No one told al-Qaeda that. No one has told these terrorists that. They don’t think the war is over. In fact, in their minds, this war will go on for hundreds of years. And the only person who can rally this country behind a plan to address it is not a U.S. senator or a member of Congress, not the majority leader or the speaker of the House, not the countless people who write very well-informed opinion pieces in our newspapers. The only person in this country who can rally us around a plan to address this is the president himself.” So, yes, the kidnapping of three boys is a heart-breaking tragedy, especially in a small country in which every son is connected in some fashion (by blood, school, the army, jobs etc.) to every family. But it is part of a larger tragedy — the deliberate policy of the United States in refusing to recognize and defeat our allies. The result may well be another al-Qaeda state and an Iranian alliance that terrorizes the region.