When I was in elementary school, spelling traumatized me. I couldn’t get the knack — all those exceptions. “I” before “e” except after “c,” except for weigh and weird. The rules have so many exceptions, that even the exceptions have exceptions. I still get heart palpitations just thinking about it. That’s probably why I studied political science in college — it’s so much easier than spelling.
The pundits on both sides of the political spectrum are confused about President Obama’s strategy for fighting terrorism. He seems to say one thing one day, then something different a few days later. But it’s just like spelling, you have to understand the exceptions. However, recent actions have made his strategy clear, so as a service to readers and the political punditry of America, we will explain the one big exception to fighting terror which in the administration is known as “except when the terrorists are targeting Jews.”
Allow me to explain how it works. While talking about ISIS and the murder of James Foley on Wednesday Obama said:
They have rampaged across cities and villages — killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children, and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims — both Sunni and Shia — by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.
A few hours after Obama’s speech, Israeli Prime Minster Netanyahu gave one of his own, accurately explaining that Hamas is guilty of the same horrific acts as ISIS.
Hamas is ISIS. ISIS is Hamas. They’re the enemies of peace, they’re the enemies of Israel, they’re the enemies of all civilized countries, and I believe they’re the enemies of the Palestinians themselves.
Netanyahu explained that the Foley beheading “shows you the barbarism, the savagery of these people,” He added:
We face the same savagery. People who wantonly rocket our cities and conduct mass killings, and when they can, they murder children, teenagers, shoot them in the head, throw people from the sixth floor, their own people, and use their people as human shields.
During the daily State Department briefing that same day, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf was asked about Netanyahu’s comparison. She refused to concede that the two terrorist groups were similar.
I think by definition, they are two different groups. They have different leadership, and I’m not going to compare them in that way. I’ll let him [Netanyahu] speak for himself, but I’m not going to use that comparison.
Since the start of the Gaza war, Obama has constantly attacked Israel for the tragedy of civilian casualties despite the facts that Israel goes even farther than the U.S. to avoid civilian casualties and that Hamas uses its population as human shields.
During an interview with the New Yorker this past January, Obama told David Remnick that he “wrestle[s]” with civilian casualties. But he also said he has
a solemn duty and responsibility to keep the American people safe. That’s my most important obligation as President and Commander-in-Chief. And there are individuals and groups out there that are intent on killing Americans — killing American civilians, killing American children, blowing up American blowing up American planes. That’s not speculation. It’s their explicit agenda.
Why would Obama go out of his way to criticize this country’s number one ally in the Middle East about civilian casualties when he knows that Hamas puts non-combatants in the line of fire and the lengths to which Israel goes to avoid killing civilians? It’s because Obama believes Netanyahu’s “solemn duty and responsibility” to keep his citizens safe is different than Obama’s. Each of the countries has a pluralistic society that recognizes the freedom of its people, but only one of them is comprised mostly of Jews.
Obama believes the civilized world should weed out and fight terrorism wherever it is found — except of course when the terrorists are targeting Jews.
During that same Wednesday speech the President said:
From governments and peoples across the Middle East there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of these kind of nihilistic ideologies. One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.
Since the start of the Gaza operation, Obama has allowed Israel to go only so far in trying to destroy Hamas before demanding a cease fire. Contrary to his ally, Israel, Obama’s strategy is to bring Hamas to the negotiating table as opposed to extracting “this cancer, so that it does not spread.”
Cross-posted at The Lid