The reaction of European leaders to the clash between the Israeli Defense Force and the armed activists who, it appears, attacked them when they boarded a boat headed to Gaza has been swift, predictable, and baseless. It is summarized in this equally predictable headline in the New York Times: “Deadly Israeli Raid On Aid Flotilla Draws Condemnation.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, once considered a friend of Israel but now a reliable purveyor of whatever anti-Israeli line seems fashionable, called Israel’s use of force “disproportionate.” This is the mindless buzzword employed Israel’s knee-jerk critics whenever Israelis successfully defend themselves after being attacked with deadly force.
It’s certainly conceivable that the IDF’s response was disproportionate. But Sarkozy has no basis for forming such a judgment at this stage. His judgment is based not on facts known to him, but on the anti-Israeli bias that has become a familiar feature of his foreign policy utterances.
I’m happy to say that, so far, the Obama administration’s response has been far more measured. Bill Burton, a deputy press secretary for the White House, said, “The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy.”
Understand before judging — that’s perhaps the most basic duty of anyone who wishes to be taken seriously on any subject. Even before the latest controversy, Sarkozy and other European politicians had forfeited the right to be taken seriously on issues pertaining to Israel. Let’s hope that Predient Obama has learned from his past mistakes and is interested in regaining his credibility on these matters.
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