The Biden administration has reportedly expressed reservations about the rise of far-right parties in the recent Israeli election. The administration, however, has failed to express reservations about the continuous incitement against Israel by Palestinian leaders and media outlets.
US officials are said to be especially concerned at the prospect of Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Religious Zionism political alliance holding key ministries in Israel's incoming governing coalition. These US officials, however, apparently do not have a problem with many senior Palestinian officials having been involved in terrorism.
Two of the Palestinian officials, Majed Faraj and Hussein al-Sheikh, still hold regular meetings with senior representatives of the Biden administration who evidently are not even remotely bothered by their past activities.
Faraj, one of the ruling Fatah's most prominent activists, was arrested by Israel many times. Altogether, he spent at least six years in Israeli prison for his role in violent activities against Israel and membership in a terror group, especially during the First Intifada, which erupted in 1987.
Al-Sheikh, also a Fatah member, spent 11 years in Israeli prison for similar charges. During the Second Intifada, which began in 2000, he was wanted by Israel for his role in terrorism. In 2005, he was removed from Israel's list of wanted terrorists, apparently as part of an Israeli-American attempt to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank.
Faraj is head of the Palestinian General Intelligence, while Al-Sheikh is considered No. 2 in the Palestinian leadership after Mahmoud Abbas.
If Smotrich and Ben-Gvir are "extremists" – at least in the eyes of the Americans – then under what category do Faraj and Al-Sheikh fall, as well as many other Palestinian officials previously involved in terrorism?
The White House reportedly held a high-level meeting earlier this month to discuss what its approach toward the new Israeli government should be, including the possibility of not engaging with some of its ultranationalist ministers, including Smotrich and Ben-Gvir.
Two former senior US diplomats, Daniel Kurtzer and Aaron David Miller, called on the Biden administration to cut weapons supplies to Israel if the new right-wing coalition in Israel "pursues the stated aims of some of its members."
These US officials expressing concern over the rise of the far-right parties in Israel, however, do not seem to have any problem at all with the growing incitement and continuing terrorist attacks by Palestinians against Israel. Those onslaughts against Israelis, carried out in both the West Bank and inside Israel, include shootings, stabbings, car-rammings and the hurling of rocks and firebombs.
Recently, Mahmoud al-Habbash, Religious Affairs Adviser to the Palestinian Authority President, equated the Jews who visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with "those whom Allah has cursed... and made of them apes and pigs."
Another senior Palestinian official, Muhammed Al-Lahham, recently bragged that 90% of the terrorists who carried out attacks against Israelis in 2022 were members of Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Al-Lahham also credited Fatah with murdering 20 Israelis, saying this is a source of honor for the faction.
Is the Biden administration going to hold a "high-level meeting" to discuss this racist and incendiary rhetoric by Mahmoud Abbas's top advisers? Those remarks were made by Palestinian officials, not by Jews named Smotrich or Ben-Gvir.
The US officials ignore that Hamas, the Palestinian terror group whose charter openly calls for the obliteration of Israel, remains more popular than ever among Palestinians.
A public opinion poll published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research on October 2, 2022, showed that if Palestinian presidential elections were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win 53% of the vote, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would receive only 38%.
Even more disturbing is that nearly a majority, or 48%, continue to support a return to armed confrontations and an armed intifada (uprising) against Israel.
When Palestinians talk about "armed confrontations" and an "armed intifada", they are referring to various forms of terrorism, including rockets, suicide bombings, stabbings, car-rammings and shooting attacks.
In yet another sign of growing extremism among the Palestinians, Hamas scored a landslide victory last May in the student council elections at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank.
The result of the vote was a clear sign that a majority of Palestinian students support a party designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US and other countries.
The Biden administration did not express any concern over this escalating trend of extremism among the Palestinians.
The students who voted for Hamas are saying that they do not recognize Israel's right to exist; do not believe in any peace process with Israel and, like Hamas, are totally opposed to the two-state solution that the Biden administration has been advocating day and night.
Like Hamas, the students believe only in a solution that would see Israel replaced by an Iranian-backed terror state controlled by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This scenario does not seem to bother the Biden administration in the slightest.
The last time the Palestinians held a parliamentary election, in 2006, a majority voted for Hamas. Since 2007, Hamas has been ruling with an iron fist over the two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians in the West Bank live under the Palestinian Authority, another repressive and corrupt regime.
One rarely hears the Biden administration or other Western countries expressing concern over human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas against their own people. Many in Washington and other capitals remain obsessed with Israel and refuse to see any wrongdoing on the Palestinian side.
To see what real extremism looks like, those voicing concern over the return of the right wing to power in Israel only need to catch a glimpse of what is happening under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are full of armed terrorists and gunmen who are openly stating their intention to kill Jews. Yet, no one in the international community appears to care about the gangs of killers that are roaming the streets of the Gaza Strip, and the cities of Nablus and Jenin in the West Bank.
Finally, the Biden administration that is now concerned about Smotrich and Ben-Gvir in the Israeli government should at least take into consideration that the two men were elected in a free and fair election.
Some even say that it was precisely actions of the Palestinian terrorists that spurred this "extremist" group in Israel to win the election in the first place. What country wants to leave itself defenseless?
The Palestinians themselves have not been able to hold general elections since 2006, so that Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas is now in his 18th year of a four-year term in office, while the Hamas leaders came to power through a violent and bloody coup they staged in the Gaza Strip in 2007.
If the Biden administration wants to see real extremism, it only needs to turn its gaze to the failing state of Lebanon, now under the de facto control of Iran and its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. The Biden administration could also take a look at Syria, where tens of thousands of people have been slaughtered since the beginning of the civil war in 2011.
Real extremism is on display every day on the streets of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and the Gaza Strip; it claims the lives of Jews virtually every week.
The real extremists are also the Palestinian leaders who deprive their people of the international aid and encourage their young men and women to kill Jews. The real extremists are those who are responsible for firing rockets at Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip. The real extremists are those who do not believe in the right of Israel to exist and work non-stop to destroy it.
There is no comparison between the alleged extremists in Israel, and the murderous terrorists in Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It is high time for the Biden administration to open its eyes to that fact.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.