This is tragic and embarrassing. Israel is calling the tune for the Obama administration on Gaza. In the last 24 hours since the alleged capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants, the Obama administration is now laying all blame on Hamas for Israel’s slaughter of over 1300 Palestinians in Gaza. What other nations are calling a massacre and genocide– our government is calling the Palestinians’ own fault.
At the President’s press conference, Obama emphasized Israel’s right to defend itself, no matter what. He only touched on the civilian killings issue a couple times, and said it was Hamas’s fault.
I’m in constant consultation with Prime Minister Netanyahu. …[I]t is heartbreaking to see what’s happening there, and I think many of us recognize the dilemma we have. On the one hand, Israel has a right to defend itself and it’s got to be able to get at those rockets and those tunnel networks. On the other hand, because of the incredibly irresponsible actions on the part of Hamas to oftentimes house these rocket launchers right in the middle of civilian neighborhoods, we end up seeing people who had nothing to do with these rockets ending up being hurt.
Not a word of blame on Israel. Though the president adopted the word that four others in his administration have used to describe massacre: “heartbreaking.”
Obama couldn’t stop emphasizing that “Israel has a right to defend itself,” and he said all those innocent civilians were just caught in the crossfire:
Now, at the same time, we’ve also been clear that innocent civilians in Gaza caught in the crossfire have to weigh on our conscience and we have to do more to protect them. A cease-fire was one way in which we could stop the killing, to step back and to try to resolve some of the underlying issues that have been building up over quite some time.
Pablum. Diana Buttu says it best:
By adopting, wholeheartedly, Israel’s position, President Obama has made it clear that he is unable or unwilling to stop Israel – the country that receives more U.S. aid than any country in the world – from targeting Palestinian civilians, at least 800 of whom have been killed by the U.S.-supplied Israeli military since July 7. President Obama has once again given cover to those who carry out war crimes by blaming Palestinian civilian deaths on Palestinians themselves – blaming the victims – despite overwhelming evidence that Israel systematically uses disproportionate deadly force in densely populated areas. (Source: Institute for Middle East Understanding)
Matt Lee at Associated Press reports that Netanyahu has laid down the law during those “constant” communications with the Obama administration:
Sources familiar with conversations between Netanyahu and senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, say the Israeli leader advised the Obama administration “not to ever second guess me again” on the matter. The officials also said Netanyahu said he should be “trusted” on the issue and about the unwillingness of Hamas to enter into and follow through on cease-fire talks…
In a phone call with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Netanyahu vented his anger, according to people familiar with the call…
Netanyahu added that he now “expected” the U.S. and other countries to fully support Israel’s offensive in Gaza, according to those familiar with the call.
Kerry has duly reflected the new theme, tweeting about the soldier’s apparent abduction in Gaza:
Condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s attack in
#Gaza – an outrageous violation of ceasefire negotiated over past several days.
Obama’s press secretary called the capture of the soldier “barbaric.” What does that make the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, civilized?
Kerry then issued a statement that is one-sided. Hamas is to blame for everything. It brought the missiles down on schools. Excerpt:
After the horrific loss of life in this attack [on the Israeli soldiers] and its aftermath, it would be a tragedy if this outrageous attack leads to more suffering and loss of life on both sides of this conflict. I have been in close touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry and with other regional partners. The international community must now redouble its efforts to end the tunnel and rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists on Israel and the suffering and loss of civilian life.
Yousef Munayyer points out that the U.S. has the ability to rein in Israel and it is doing nothing but talking about heartbreaking images of civilian slaughter:
“This week, as the United States was condemning the Israeli shelling of a UN school where 17 Palestinian civilians were killed, President Obama simultaneously announced the United States would open its arms caches to Israel and provide artillery that would help Israeli tanks reload and fire again on civilians. President Obama says he is heartbroken over the scenes in Gaza. If that is true, it is disappointing because that means the President is well aware of the horrors in Gaza, which he personally can do something to stop, and yet he still fails to do so.” (Source: Institute for Middle East Understanding)
The only good thing about all this is the American exposure. The world is amazed at our insensitivity to atrocities. Latin America is up in arms. And the U.S. is hogtied. We need a two state solution (as Terry Weber says) — Israel and the U.S. becoming separate countries.
Update: To grasp the cynicism of the Obama administration on this question (and surely the cynicism of every American administration) consider this report from Barbara Starr of CNN two days ago.
CNN’s Barbara Starr : “growing horror and criticism’ in administration at Israel and civilian casualties in Gaza
— Chemi Shalev (@ChemiShalev) July 31, 2014
The point is, They know as well as we do what a massacre has taken place. And they can’t call it as they see it. Just: heartbreaking.