AP’s Matt Lee confronts Nuland: ‘You’re staying silent while people are dying left and right’

At today’s Daily Press Briefing Associated Press reporter Matt Lee grills State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland about US silence over Israel’s deadly attacks on civilians in Gaza.

He chides her over the ‘quiet diplomacy’:

Well, you’ve been doing your private diplomacy for almost a week now, how’s it going so far?

She dodges his bullets time and again. But he gets something out of her when he pushes her to make a statement regarding Turkey’s statement that Israel was engaging in terrorism.

QUESTION: And yet you won’t stick up for your ally, Israel, when the Turks, another one of your allies, say that they’re engaged in terrorism in Gaza?

MS. NULAND: We have been extremely clear about our concern for Israel’s security, about the fact that Israel has a right to self-defense, but I am not going to go further than that today, Matt.

QUESTION: Why can’t you say that you don’t agree with the Turks?

MS. NULAND: Because I’m not going to get into a public spitting match with allies on either side. We’re just not going to do that, okay?

QUESTION: And you think that that’s worse? A public spitting match with one of your allies is worse than hundreds of people dying every day?

MS. NULAND: I don’t understand the question here. There’s not a question here. You’re just looking for a fight. Let’s go.

Said.

QUESTION: No, no, no. The fight is already on.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Absolutely.

QUESTION: The fight’s going on over there.

MS. NULAND: Absolutely.

QUESTION: And you guys, by refusing to say anything about what you’re trying to do or refusing to say whether you agree or disagree with comments that are being made by your allies or others –

MS. NULAND: We –

QUESTION: — that makes things worse, not better.

MS. NULAND: We, of course, agree that rhetorical attacks against Israel are not helpful at this moment.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. NULAND: Is that what you were looking for, Matt?

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you. Yes.

MS. NULAND: Thank you.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Media, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 60 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. radii says:

    when the full contours of the latest sleazy deal we entered into with israel are exposed I think we’ll all be aghast – how does israel do this to us again and again and again?: make us their funder/protector/whipping boy/patsy/useful fool – what did we negotiate for in return for letting Bibi commit another round of genocide against Gaza?

    • Bumblebye says:

      How long before Nutanyahoo is demanding more bombs to replenish Israel’s arsenals? Over and above the $3bn he already gets, of course. Probably happened already, but we just haven’t heard yet.

      • Walid says:

        Over and above the $3 billion and the arms replacements that America’s freeloading friend get, it also gets free aviation fuel for all of its airforce as well as free fuel for other military equipment like tanks and trucks. La vie est belle for these moochers.

        Article on the US replacement munitions (including white phosphorus, of course, according to AI) used in the 2008-2009 war on Gaza, from Gobal Resesarch:

        “In the dying days of the Bush administration, and a week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign, followed by a land invasion of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 containers of munitions to Israel.

        Each container was 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes. The shipment reportedly reached Israel last month at Ashod, 40 kiometres north of Gaza. The huge arsenal of munitions will replenish those expended in the Gaza War.

        According to Amnesty International in the UK, the shipment included white phosphorous.

        The international organization says 300 of the containers had been unloaded at Ashod in March by a German cargo ship, Wehr Elb.

        “We are sure that the consignment contained arms and munitions.” We have a strong suspicion that it contained white phosphorous which has been used against civilians in Gaza,” Brian Wood, head of Arms Control Campaign at Amnesty International in London said late this week.

        “The cargo ship had been chartered and controlled by US Military Sealift Command. It left the USA for Israel on December 20, one week before the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza. The vessel was carrying 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes,” he said.

        “The world community including the Palestinians should be able to know where the remaining 680 containers on board the Wehr Elbe have gone and why the US is not transparent about the final destination of the dangerous cargo.

        “A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Amnesty International that “the unloading of the entire US munitions shipment was successfully completed at Ashdod on March 22,” Wood pointed out.

        The spokesperson had said the shipment was destined for a US pre-positioned munitions stockpile in Israel, he said. Under a US-Israel agreement, munitions from this stockpile may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary.

        “There is a great risk that the new munitions may be used by the Israeli military to commit further violations of international law, like the ones committed during the war in Gaza,” Wood said.

        link to globalresearch.ca

      • I believe we have a stockpile over there worth over 800million that they have access to in case of emergency. They can probably dip into the never-ending stuff that costs them nothing.

    • American says:

      “how does israel do this to us again and again and again? “..radii

      You know how they did it. We all know how they did it. 65 years of their agent’s insidious malignant infiltration into every avenue of influence in the US that could be of use to Israel. 65 years of propaganda on the US public. 65 years of buying corrupt politicians. 65 years of a dumbed down and lackadaisical US public.

      • Theo says:

        However, we should not forget the government of Israel is doing all that killing, not the jews!!

        • NickJOCW says:

          Theo, one cannot forget something one is not aware of. Israeli hierarchies, political, educational, intellectual and religious consistently obscure a distinction between Jews and Israelis; a false syllogism is all but inevitable. After all, are not all Roman Catholic priests pedophiles and all Arabs terrorists?

        • Mooser says:

          “However, we should not forget the government of Israel is doing all that killing, not the jews!!”

          Exactly, it may indeed be Jews that are doing the killing, but it’s not “the Jews” and I’m glad you can see that. It certainly is, and I can’t deny it, a tempting differentiation to ignore under the circumstances, but you make that differentiation for your own sake, not mine. But I’m not above thanking you for making it.

        • Theo says:

          Yes, Mooser, however we could go further:

          Not the germans, but germans carried out the genocides during WWII. (I cannot remember seeing such a differentiation from the victims)!
          Not the turks, but turks murdered 1.5 million armenians.
          Not the italians, but italians are the murderous Mafia members.
          Not the christians, but christians conquistadores killed a great number of S. American natives.
          Not the americans, but americans are bombing and killing millions of asians since WWII.
          Etc., etc., etc.
          However, such slight differenciation is really hair splitting and are we not as members of a nation, group or religion all guilty?

        • American says:

          The bottom line here boys and girls is we ‘are’ ultimately responsible for what our leaders or our group does . We gave them or let them take the power.
          Can we always stop ‘them’ from doing horrible and criminal things? That depends on how far we are willing to go to stop them.
          But we have the responsiblity of trying to stop them, to take away their power to do what they do.
          The German Generals who tried to assassinate Hitler risk it all.

    • A disturbing thought, Radii, but nonetheless a reasonable question. Who’s to blame? Obama? Congress? AIPAC? The MSM? American Churches? Yes, to all. Shame on us all for empowering this reckless fool to unleash slaughter to fit his election cycle.

    • lysias says:

      I suspect the deal was: in return for Israel committing itself not to attack Iran and to hold off on any military moves before the U.S. election, Obama gave a green light for a post-election attack on Gaza.

  2. chuckcarlos says:

    guy broke the ice

    Erdogan aptly and correctly called Israel a Terrorist State today

    NATO member now thinks Israel is a Terrorist State

    “Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza,” Erdogan told a conference of the Eurasian Islamic Council in Istanbul.

    “For this reason, I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts,”

    • pabelmont says:

      Annie Robbins showed us a wonderful picture of a truly MASSIVE rally in Indonesia against the Israeli (IMO: terrorist ?) attack on Gaza.

      (Thousands march to US embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia 18 November 2012.)

      Anyway, Islam is not merely Arab and USA’s support for Israel is surely getting more costly politically.

    • Theo says:

      Don´t pay too much attention to what Erdogan says, he is just another dishonest politician. Remember his indignation after the killing of 11 of his countrymen and what he did after that? Nothing, the israelis boarded the next convoy, too!

      • FreddyV says:

        Huh?

        They’ve put the IOF soldiers on trial in Turkey. That’s not nothing.

        • Theo says:

          FreddyV

          If you remember he promised the next help convoy will have turkish navy escorts. Not only it did not happen, but Turkey did not allow it to gather and start in Turkey.
          Putting the IOF soldiers on trial is a show, just what do you think what will happen to them?
          If Turkey would sentence them, puts out an international arrest warrant against and Interpol takes action on it, then I start believing in him, again.
          I say again, as years ago I had great hope in him that slowly, but surely evaporated. He remind me of our Obama, great speeches, not action.

  3. Avi_G. says:

    MS. NULAND: We, of course, agree that rhetorical attacks against Israel are not helpful at this moment.

    Israel is so sensitive that rhetorical attacks hurt it, deeply.

    Why didn’t she add:

    “Hey listen up everybody, let Israel slaughter a few thousand civilians. OK? When the dust settles, then, and only then, will we consider telling Israel that it’s actions are unhelpful — like, you know, like we do on the settlements issue.

  4. kalithea says:

    I don’t get it, Nuland states rhetorical statements against Israel aren’t helpful and he just folds on that and there’s something positive in that? The guy should have insisted on the silence of the Administration in the face of the ongoing slaughter of civilians. This is the excuse the Administration uses for silencing criticism of Israel and he folded on that excuse.

  5. Linda J says:

    Israel and the U.S. gov’t are on the SAME side so I will not be aghast; there is no deal. It is the way the empire works with its compradores and colleagues in crime. This is blatantly apparent, especially since Pres. Johnson let Israel attack the Liberty and covered it up. The cost was too high to let Americans know whose side the U.S. government was on.

    We are all in the same boat as the Gazans, so to speak. They are on the cutting edge of U.S./Israel policy right now, but we are all in their sights.

  6. dbroncos says:

    MS. NULAND: “We, of course, agree that rhetorical attacks against Israel are not helpful at this moment.”

    Matt Lee gets Ms. Nuland to admit that the most important thing right now is not just to support Israel’s legendary security concerns but also to defend Israel from rhetorical attacks. Enough said. Well done, Matt.

    • kalithea says:

      And you actually believe that the dense American public get that nuance and that even if they did they would disagree that Israel should be protected both materially and rhetorically. In my opinion, he didn’t go far enough; this is a perfect example of nothing gained nothing lost. Hardly registers on the progress meter.

      • the dense American public are not going to be reading about this exchange. she tried to cut him off, she tried to evade any kind of answer. he pushed her from the beginning to address the farce of the “silent diplomacy” which implies something important is going on in the background, when we know it isn’t. he keeps pushes her “And you guys, by refusing to say anything about what you’re trying to do or refusing to say whether you agree or disagree with comments that are being made by your allies or others –”

        so her admission, is basically that ‘non silent diplomacy’ otherwise known as transparency and truth, is not on the agenda. and when she says ‘is that what you’re looking for matt’ and he says yes, it meant he got his statement about the extent of ‘silent diplomacy’ which was basically pressure other states to stfu about israel. but israel, they never have to shut up and anyone can pile on palestinians rhetorically, including noland herself.

        • Betsy says:

          @Annie Robbins — yes. The American public is not getting the truth. We’re losing the struggle to communicate with ordinary Americans. We need to dramatically revv up the battle to intervene in the corporate media framing — or they will ‘spin’ even this latest horror, to fit all the old lies. The corporate media are bigger & bigger part of the problem. We’re losing right now.

        • ummati says:

          its not so much as not getting the truth but rather choose not to be belive the truth, in this day and age of information, ignorance is a choice.

  7. seafoid says:

    Matt Lee is a righteous gentile.

    • kalithea says:

      How about he’s righteous, period?

      • seafoid says:

        There is a feature called “the avenue of the righteous Gentiles” at Yadvashem , the Museum of the European Holocaust built on the ruins of a Palestinian village, WTF.

        I am planning a museum of Israeli cruelty that will feature an avenue of the righteous Jews.
        And another for the self righteous Jews.

    • Mooser says:

      “Matt Lee is a righteous gentile.”

      No f–in way, Seafoid! First of all, I think I’ve heard him say he was really an agnostic or maybe even an atheist, and he comes from an entirely Sikh family.

  8. ToivoS says:

    Mat Lee is one bull dog. How long can he keep that job? The I lobby must have him in their sights.

    • kalithea says:

      He’ll keep his job as long as he doesn’t step into the trap Zios set for Helen Thomas. Because there’s supposed to be free speech but Zios have a whip for those who use free speech against them.

    • GreatLeo says:

      I don’t know… I get a different impression after listening to him speak than from reading the transcript. Listening to the audio, it sounds to me that he’s upset the State Dept. isn’t defending Israel from Turkey’s accusations of terrorism.

  9. Taxi says:

    “Elites Will Make Gazans Of Us All”.

    A very serious and prophetic article by Chris Hedges:
    link to readersupportednews.org

    • Sumud says:

      Grim, but I think Chris Hedges has his finger right on the pulse.

      His article should be read in combination with this talk by Jeff Halper from a few years ago:

      Interview – Jeff Halper – The Global Pacification Industry

      Halper refers to the permanent “warehousing” of occupied Palestinians and says the conflict is essentially over – which I don’t agree with, but great correlation between Hedges & Halper.

      Reminds me also of this recent Scott Horton interview with John Whitehead on the US Gov authorising the use of drones domestically:

      Scott Horton: John Whitehead

      A depressing trio of pieces, but forewarned is forearmed.

      • Sibiriak says:

        Chris Hedges:

        The impending collapse of the international economy

        Stagnation, for sure, but “impending collapse”?

        As the U.S. empire implodes…

        “Implodes”? That seems like an overstatement.

        Chris Hedges makes a lot of insightful points, but I think his analysis is marred by a predilection for apocalyptic rhetoric. YMMV

      • seafoid says:

        Halper thinks the bots will tough it out and sell nihilism dressed up as peace to the goys indefinitely ?

        Not a hope.
        I look at Mark Regev and think he’ll be back in Oz for his retirement.

    • Betsy says:

      @Taxi — this is a great article by Chris Hedges because it shows the lines of convergence between multiple trends. There are resistance movements, but they tend to be siloed within “issues”. If we could combine movements into a unified resistance across issues, maybe we could stop the spiral of Empire. But, there is lack of adequate language to serve as a banner under which ordinary people can come together. Hedges language might sound ‘apocalyptic’ but it does begin to move towards powerful simple metaphors that can convey the interconnections with truth. But, a lot of people sense the interconnections — so can ‘get it’. People aren’t stupid — they are just surrounded by lies & overworked & isolated by US lifestyles.

  10. MHughes976 says:

    The BBC commentator and ME correspondent John Leyne, once expelled from Iran, was saying just now that the purpose of Hillary Clinton’s impending visit is to restrain Israel. If that were true the next press conference would be quite interesting.

  11. Kathleen says:

    Matt Lee the bravest reporter in the room. Nuland one of Israel’s guard dogs. Call your Reps. Cut off aid to Israel!

  12. I don’t understand. Matt Lee is clearly saying that he thinks the US is insufficiently supporting Israel here. BTW, the right is loving the exchange:
    “AP’s Lee Eviscerates State Department”
    “Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee had a spirited argument with the State Department’s Victoria Nuland today over the administration’s refusal to condemn Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s labeling of Israel a “terrorist state.”
    This isn’t the first time Matthew Lee has fought with the State Department over its anti-Israel stance. Maybe at some point the State Department will start giving real answers.”
    link to nationalreview.com

    • Sibiriak says:

      Matt Lee is clearly saying that he thinks the US is insufficiently supporting Israel here.

      Exactly. Some folks here are wildly missing the point.

    • This isn’t the first time Matthew Lee has fought with the State Department over its anti-Israel stance.

      ha! anyone who follows lee knows he doesn’t think the state department has an anti israeli view.don’t drink koolaid over NRO narrative spin. matt lee was pressuring her to denounce turkey’s statement at a time the US is in like thick w/turkey over syria, so it’s very clear to anyone following FP why this is an inopportune time for the US to be seen as ‘choosing sides’ between allies. but everyone knows the US is beholden to israel and not turkey. so he got his statement out of her which is “leave israel alone”.

  13. crone says:

    “…the purpose of Hillary Clinton’s impending visit is to restrain Israel.”

    Yeah? and pigs fly… opps, there goes a polka-dot one…

  14. With Obama having killed thousands including many children in drone attacks the last few years, why anyone would expect him to show sympathy for Gazan children killed by Israel is beyond me.

  15. Sibiriak says:

    Lee was trying to goad State Department spokesperson Nuland into repudiating Turkey’s labeling Israel a “terrorist state.”

    LEE: [Y]ou won’t stick up for your ally Israel when the Turks, another one of your allies, say that they’re engaged in terrorism in Gaza.

    NULAND: We have been extremely clear about our concern for Israel’s security, about the fact that Israel has a right to self-defense, but I am not going to go further than that today.

    LEE: Why can’t you say that you don’t agree with the Turks.

  16. chinese box says:

    Nuland has to walk a delicate line–it ain’t easy being a spokesmouth for state terror.

  17. seafoid says:

    the money shot from Ms N

    link to salon.com

    MS. NULAND: Matt, as you have made clear again and again in this room, we are not always consistent.

    The disposable heroes nailed it years ago

    link to youtube.com

  18. just says:

    Matt Lee has the tenacity of Helen Thomas.

  19. Walid says:

    Israel’s army has finally announced it: from Haarerz, 1 soldier, 1 settler killed and many others injured by 2 Hamas rockets hitting south of Jerusalem.

    Meanwhile at Mondo, another rocket is intercepted on its way to TA.

    • on their front page: link to haaretz.com

      LIVE BLOG: Day 7 of Gaza operation
      IDF soldier, civilian killed by shells in South; rocket hits central Israel house
      Two wounded in rocket attack on Rishon Letzion; Israel downplays reports of imminent truce; IDF drops leaflets in Gaza City, warning residents to evacuate outlying areas; Two rockets strike near Jerusalem; 11 soldiers, six Israeli civilians wounded over course of day; Arab League chief arrives in Gaza, Ban Ki-moon lands in Israel.

      • just says:

        On CNN just now, Avital told Wolf that “hundreds” were wounded in Israel today.

        Quite different “news” coming out all the time from all the outlets.

      • Walid says:

        Israel’s channel 10 is showing images of the bombed bus with 10 injured in TA. Preliminary investigation says someone boarded the bus with the bomb, got off the bus and detonated it; over 20 injured, 3 of them very seriously.
        link to haaretz.com

        Haaretz shows a picture of a destroyed house from a direct hit in Bir as-Sabaa.

        .

        • Walid says:

          It’s been over an hour and there is still no word about the bus bombing on CNN, not even a banner. This is odd in light of CNN having all its star journalists currently in Israel. Probably stalling while trying to figure out how to present this news with the least damage to Israel.

  20. President Obama as much as I like you and supported you, be ashamed of yourself, your grandfather would be ashamed that you stand by and allow this to happen to others as others allowed it to happen to him.

    Obama’s Selma speech. Text as delivered
    Selma Voting Rights March
    Commemoration, Brown Chapel A.M.E Church

    March 4, 2007
    “And I tried to explain, you don’t understand. You see, my Grandfather was a cook to the British in Kenya. Grew up in a small village and all his life, that’s all he was — a cook and a house boy. And that’s what they called him, even when he was 60 years old. They called him a house boy. They wouldn’t call him by his last name.

    Sound familiar?

    He had to carry a passbook around because Africans in their own land, in their own country, at that time, because it was a British colony, could not move about freely. They could only go where they were told to go. They could only work where they were told to work.
    link to blogs.suntimes.com

  21. just says:

    Good article here by EdwardTeller:

    I. Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev is one or the smoothest operators out there among world-class apparatchiks. Like Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson for the press, Avital Leibovich, he is unperturbed when being asked vexing questions about the dubious morality of Israeli military policy. Early in the weekend, Leibovich was questioned by RT TV about the bombing of a building in Gaza City which housed offices, equipment and reporters for several news agencies. She claimed it was impossible to avoid hurting journalists, because Hamas was using them as “human shields.”

    Much more here:

    link to my.firedoglake.com