A nasty habit at State

When it comes to apologetics and confusion about the endless campaign of Palestinian Arab terrorism against Israel, the Associated Press has nothing on the Department of State. See, for example, Adam Kredo’s two recent Washington Free Beacon accounts, “State Dept. blames Israel for terrorism, claims Palestinians rarely incite attacks” (July 20) and “Trump State Dept. unsure why Palestinian terrorists kill Israelis” (July 21).

The source documents related to Kredo’s stories are the State Department’s just-released Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 (July 2017) and Rep. Peter Roskam’s letter to Secretary of State Tillerson (July 20). The State Department report blames Israel for prompting the murderous terrorism committed against its own citizens and turns a blind eye to the incessant Palestinian incitement. Rep. Roskam suggests that the department is not up to speed on the relevant facts.

The State Department is drunk on the anti-Semitic form of blaming the victim. It’s a chronic condition. The Trump administration’s failure to staff the department at the deputy level assures that it suffers from an Obama hangover in addition to the usual bouts of inebriation. The department is in the grip of a nasty, nasty habit.

Kredo’s second article takes us inside the State Department”s “thinking,” if it can be called that:

A State Department official, speaking on background, defended the report’s conclusions and said that it cannot precisely pinpoint the motivations behind Palestinian terror attacks on Israel.

“We recognize that in any community, a combination of risk factors can come together to create a higher risk of radicalization to violence,” the official said. “There is no one single pathway to violence—each individual’s path to terrorism is personalized, with certain commonalities. Therefore, it is difficult to pinpoint precisely what the sources of radicalization to violence are. What could drive someone to violence in one instance could vary significantly with someone else who is similarly situated.”

Stepping back, Kredo finds that Trump administration officials are not entirely happy about what’s happening here, though I’m not sure where Tillerson himself stands:

The State Department’s response prompted a fierce backlash among U.S. officials and Trump administration insiders, who said the State Department under the leadership of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has gone rogue and is out of line with the White House’s position on a range of sensitive diplomatic issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.

Sources pointed to the administration going into damage control mode last week after State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert stated during a press briefing that the U.S. was “upgrading” its diplomatic standing with the Palestinians, a declaration that came as a surprise to those in the White House.

The report singling out Israel is another clear example of the State Department pursuing policies that are well out of line with the White House’s stated agenda, which the sources said has been pro-Israel. One source who advises the White House Middle East policy described the State Department’s explanation to the Free Beacon as “spectacular bull—t.”

“The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism,” Roskam wrote in a letter sent Thursday to the State Department. “This report wrongly insinuates Israeli security measures on the Temple Mount and a stalled peace process as key forces behind terrorism.”

Thanks to Rep. Roskam for taking note of this incredibly sorry state of affairs. Assuming Secretary Tillerson himself is on board with administration policy, it is way past time for President Trump to staff up the State Department with deputies in tune with the administration.

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