By RYAN JONES, ISRAEL TODAY—
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday conveyed Israel’s condolences to the United States over this week’s murders of four consular staff members at the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, noting that no nation knows better than Israel what it is like to deal with such brutal acts of terror.
“The people of Israel grieve with the American people; we send our condolences to the families,” said Netanyahu. “If there’s any people in the world that understands what Americans are going through, what they went through in 9/11, it’s the people of Israel, who’ve been standing at the forefront of the battle against terrorism, who’ve lost loved ones and who deeply, deeply sympathize with the people of America at this time.”
The attack on the American consulate in Benghazi and a parallel assault on the US Embassy in neighboring Egypt were sparked by the distribution of a film produced in America that portrays Islam’s Prophet Mohammed as a violent pedophile. The secretive producer of the film originally identified himself as an Israeli Jew, but has since been disputed.
When the US Embassy in Cairo issued a statement apologizing for the film, many Americans were angered, arguing that even if the content was offensive, America’s freedom of speech guarantees citizens the right to voice their opinions. Others noted that the American apology played into the hypocritical hands of the rioters, who are part of a society that regularly produces music, TV shows and movies that denigrate the Jewish and Christian faiths.
The Obama Administration quickly distanced itself from the embassy statement, insisting that it had not been approved by the White House.
“The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” a US government official told the American online news website Politico.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put the Libya attack on a “small, savage” group of extremists, and the head of Libya’s national assembly formally apologized for the American deaths on Libyan soil.
However, both the Libya and Egypt incidents have again raised concerns that last year’s Arab Spring has been hijacked radical Islamists who have no intention whatsoever of implementing the kind of Western democracy and social freedoms that were promised.