Commentary Magazine


Contentions

RE: The Incoherent Response to the Flotilla Incident

The White House released a statement late on Sunday concerning the Israeli investigation of the flotilla incident. It is further proof that no good comes from soft-pedaling criticism of the administration or from wishful thinking that one day Obama will emerge as a stalwart friend of the Jewish state. The statement reads in full:

Today, the Government of Israel took an important step forward in proposing an independent public commission to investigate the circumstances of the recent tragic events on board the flotilla headed for Gaza. Through a presidential statement of the United Nations Security Council, the United States joined the international community in condemning those acts which led to nine fatalities and many injuries on board the flotilla, and supporting the completion of a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation.

We believe that Israel, like any other nation, should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security. Israel has a military justice system that meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation, and the structure and terms of reference of Israel’s proposed independent public commission can meet the standard of a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation. But we will not prejudge the process or its outcome, and will await the conduct and findings of the investigation before drawing further conclusions.

While Israel should be afforded the time to complete its process, we expect Israel’s commission and military investigation will be carried out promptly. We also expect that, upon completion, its findings will be presented publicly and will be presented to the international community.

Let’s count the ways in which this statement is, as a colleague puts it, “appalling.”

First, contrary to assurances to some Jewish leaders, the Obama administration is not enthusiastically embracing or participating in an investigation of Israel. In fact, the administration’s response is a grudging acknowledgment that Israel insists on doing this itself and a warning that Obama and the “international community” will continue to sit in judgment. There is no repudiation of an international inquest; to the contrary, the door is left wide open if the UN decides that the results of the inquiry aren’t “credible.”

Second, after being apparently encouraged by the Reid-McConnell letter, which treated the UN statement as a positive development, the Obama team gloats about its move. (“Through a presidential statement of the United Nations Security Council, the United States joined the international community in condemning those acts which led to nine fatalities and many injuries on board the flotilla, and supporting the completion of a prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent investigation.”) This is what comes from cheer leading the unacceptable — you get more of it.

Third, it orders Israel to present the findings to the “international community.” What other country must do so? Would the U.S. dream of seeking the UN’s stamp of approval on its drone policy?

Finally, there is no indication that we are the least bit interested in investigating Turkey or the terrorists responsible for the violence. Since Turkey will not investigate itself, why is no international inquest convened to explore that nation’s “acts which led to nine fatalities and many injuries on board the flotilla”? It is because Obama refuses to cast blame or focus the international community’s ire anywhere but on Israel.

This should be a warning to those earnestly trying to curb the worst instincts of this president. It won’t be done by walking on eggshells, making excuses, or trying to soften criticism. In other words, it is time to robustly and clearly enunciate the ways in which this administration is doing damage to our ally, our security, and our moral standing. Obama continues to put all three in jeopardy.