Palestinian Reporter Raises Bicycle Incident in Washington Briefing

YERUSHALAYIM -

The recent incident in which an Israeli border policeman allegedly took away a Palestinian girl’s bicycle has now attained international recognition, thanks to a Palestinian reporter who raised the issue at a State Department briefing in Washington.

Arikat, a reporter for the Yerushalayim-based Al-Quds newspaper, posed the question: “Should Israel compensate this little girl for the bicycle?”

At first, State Department spokesman Mark Toner sought to dismiss the matter. “I don’t know that that’s a question we necessarily should answer from the podium of the State Department,” he said.

But then Toner proceeded to try to answer the question, or at least say the politically correct thing.

“We understand the tensions that exist in Israel regarding security and security concerns,” Toner said. “It’s also legitimate to say that what’s portrayed in that video is concerning and raises emotions on the part of many people who see it, and that any security forces – and I’m talking about not just Israel’s, but any security forces around the world – have a difficult job.

“We understand that they have to balance a lot of factors in carrying out their duties, but they also need to be aware of how their actions portray what they’re doing and the reasons behind what they’re doing to the rest of the world,” Toner said.

Arikat then shifted to U.S. support of Israel, and asked: “Should you deduct like $100 to pay for that bicycle?”

Toner evaded that one, choosing instead to extoll the bilateral relationship.

“Our security relationship with Israel is important both to Israel’s national security interests as well as our own, as well as the region’s, and it’s vital that we maintain that close cooperation.

“And, frankly, that relationship, as I said yesterday, is ironclad. Israel is a strong democracy in the region and a strong proponent of democratic values in the region,” he said.