Where’s Israel’s Hashtag, Mr. President?

Alex VanNess Manager of Public Information, Center for Security Policy
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Hashtag activism has become a staple of the Obama administration’s foreign policy toolbox. While many view hashtag campaigns as a good way to bring an issue to the attention of those who can effect change, it’s also seen as nothing more than a feel good gesture undertaken by ineffectual leadership.

When Russian forces first invaded Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki tweeted a picture of herself holding a sign with the hashtag #UnitedForUkraine as a sign of support for the country. When the al-Qaeda affiliated Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped 276 girls from their school in Nigeria, First Lady Michelle Obama held up a #BringBackOurGirls sign calling for the release of the kidnapped girls.

Last week, Palestinian terrorists kidnapped three Israeli teenagers in Judea and Samaria. The students, identified as Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Frankel were abducted as they were hitchhiking home from their school in the West Bank. Additionally, one of the kidnapped teens is a U.S. citizen. So, where is the administration’s outrage? Where is the administration’s hashtag campaign?

As Jewish communities around the world pray for the safe return of these three boys, Palestinians affiliated with Hamas are celebrating the news of missing Israeli teens by passing out candies in Gaza.

Founded as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is an openly anti-Semitic and violent terrorist organization bent on the complete destruction of Israel. They have claimed responsibility for the deaths of countless innocent Israelis through cowardly acts of terror.

Moreover, Hamas has justified these kidnappings as a legitimate act and has condemned any Palestinian cooperation with Israel in the search for the missing boys. Palestinian militants have long stated their support for kidnapping Israelis in order to win concessions from the Israeli government.

Recently, the Palestinian Authority swore in a new “unity” government that incorporates Hamas appointed ministers, which has led to a breakdown in peace talks. Despite Hamas’s charged rhetoric and stated support for kidnapping, administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, have decided to place the blame for the failure of peace talks on Israel.

Though the White House has implicated Hamas in the kidnappings, it is unlikely that there will be any direct action taken. The Obama administration’s disdain for Israel is no secret. It can be seen by both the lack of a symbolic gesture of support for the kidnapped teens, as well as the legitimization of their enemies through financial support.

The White House has decided not only to discount the kidnapping of three young boys, including an American, they have also decided to skirt U.S. law by promising continued funds to the new terrorist-aligned Palestinian government. By law, U.S. aid is to be cut from any Palestinian government where Hamas holds influence, unless Hamas complies with strict guidelines that include the recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State, something Hamas still refuse to acknowledge.

This legitimization of Israel’s enemies will only invite further violence. If President Obama wants to prove his critics wrong and show that he is a friend to Israel then he should join congressional lawmakers who are pushing legislation to classify the newly formed unity government as a foreign terrorist organization, and cut off aid to the Palestinians terrorists. This action is a necessary undertaking until the Palestinians stop associating with terrorists, kidnapping innocent teenagers, and can show their willingness to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. At a bare minimum, the White House can support the #BringBackOurBoys hashtag.

Alex VanNess is the Manager of Public Information for the Center for Security Policy.  Prior to coming to the Center, Mr. VanNess worked as an Intern for Congressman Doug Lamborn and then later as a member of staff for Congressman Tom McClintock of California.  Alex holds a degree in Political Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, and has pursued the study of Jewish Law and Philosophy at Shor Yoshuv Rabbinical College in New York.