Rarely in history has there been so wide a discrepancy between what diplomats are saying in public and what they are saying behind closed doors. Simply put, Hamas has been a thorn in the entire world’s side. Though they cannot say it in public, Arab leaders tacitly approve of Israel’s military campaign, because Hamas is not just Israel’s enemy, it is also an arm of Iranian-backed Islamism, something that undermines regimes in places like Egypt and Jordan.
Europe’s leaders struggle to find the balance between de rigueur condemnation of Israel and the silent acknowledgment that the Jewish state really had no choice in the matter. The White House, with little to lose and a track record of putting things more bluntly than most diplomats find tasteful, has made its sympathy for Israel clear. But almost everywhere else, leaders still cannot bring themselves to say what they think: That after days and weeks and years of raining rockets on Israeli civilians, Hamas must be stopped.
One notable exception is the government of the Czech Republic, which today enjoys the presidency of the European Union. (Another nice bit of timing, that.) A spokesman for the presidency declared that “from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step [the IDF ground offensive] as a defensive, not offensive, action.” The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, said in an interview that Hamas had removed itself from any serious political discussion, and pointed out that Hamas deliberately puts its military targets in civilian centers.
“Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel? … ” Schwarzenberg added. “I am enjoying the luxury of telling the truth.”