Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to Washington, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Washington, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. A few miles down the road from Israel’s gated embassy, Zomlot sits in his office wrestling with a unique diplomatic dilemma: how to advance his people’s cause at a time relations with the United States are so distant, he hasn’t even spoken to the White House in months.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
I’d be among the first who would admit that sometimes, perhaps more often than we’d like, the Trump administration engages in acts that can seem to be petty and vindictive. Sometimes though, these acts are simply repaying people in their own coin.
Around 1996, the United States allowed what had been classified as an international terrorist organization, that would be the Palestine Liberation Organization, to open up an “embassy” in the United States. The idea was that in order to encourage the PLO to act like a nation rather than a collection of partially civilized savages, we should treat them with the respect due a nation. And if we did that, they’d come to enjoy the respect and actually work towards a peaceful solution of the Israel-Palestine problem. Twenty years later, we don’t seem to be much closer, at least through the good offices of the PLO.
Congress after Congress has asked why we continue to allow this abominable situation where an organization that is openly encouraging terrorism has a diplomatic facility in the US and administration after administration has given mealy-mouthed answers about the “peace process.” Right up until last week when the Trump administration ordered the PLO embassy closed.
The administration gave the PLO until October 13 to vacate but that was just the headline:
The U.S. administration also revoked the visas of Ambassador Husam Zomlot’s wife and two children despite their being valid until 2020. Ambassador Zomlot’s son Said,7, who is in second grade, and daughter Alma, 5, who is in kindergarten were pulled out of Horace Mann Elementary School in Washington D.C. last week and have since left the country.
The Head of the PLO General Delegation to the U.S. has not returned to Washington D.C. since being recalled in May by President Abbas in protest at the administration’s decision to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
On this most recent outrageous development, PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said:
“As if the announcement that the U.S. would close our office in Washington D.C. was not enough, this vindictive action by the Trump administration is spiteful. The U.S. has taken its attempts to pressure and blackmail the Palestinians to a new level.
By deliberately targeting the family of Ambassador Zomlot, the U.S. administration has gone from cruel punishment to revenge against the Palestinians and their leadership even to the point of causing hardship to their innocent children and families.
I take a somewhat different view of this. The Trump administration has been accused of separating families. Here, it is going out of its way to ensure that Mr. Zomlot is reunified with his wife and kids. More to the point, they’ve rescued two innocent children from the clutches of the DC Public School System (full disclosure, I moved out of DC because my oldest had turned four and was required to attend pre-K) and returned them to their home where they can study in their native language and use those great UN-funded schools run by UNRWA. This is a win-win. But there are some people you can never make happy…
I’m on Facebook. Drop by and join the fun there.