Iran and Israel, Compare and Contrast

As Scott noted earlier today, the Obama administration’s warm attitude toward Iran’s mullahs has been in the news. Its view of Israel, on the other hand, is much chillier.

Last night, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a talk in which he lauded Israel’s avoidance of civilian casualties during the recent Gaza conflict, and stated that the U.S. military has sent a team of experts to Israel to study best practices in that regard. Via Yid With Lid:

I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties. In fact, about 3 months ago we sent, we asked [IDF Chief of Staff] Benny [Gantz] if we could send a lessons learned team – one of the things we do better than anybody I think is learn – and we sent a team of senior officers and non-commissioned officers over to work with the IDF to get the lessons from that particular operation in Gaza. To include the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties and what they did with tunneling….

But they did some extraordinary things to try to limit civilian casualties to include calling out, making it known that they were going to destroy a particular structure. Even developed some techniques, they call it roof knocking, to have something knock on the roof, they would display leaflets to warn citizens and population to move away from where these tunnels. But look, in this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties. So I think if Benny were sitting here right now he would say to you we did everything we could and now we’ve learned from that mission and we think there are some other things we could do in the future and we will do those. The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties, they’re interested in stopping the shooting of rockets and missiles, out of the Gaza Strip and in to Israel, and its an incredibly difficult environment, and I can say to you with confidence that I think that they acted responsibly.

So today a reporter asked State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki whether the Department agrees with General Dempsey’s assessment. Psaki parroted the Obama administration line: Israel should have done more. Here she is:

What that “more” might be is, of course, unspecified; nor is there any suggestion that Hamas and Fatah should have done more to stop the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians. But of course, civilian casualties are a greater or lesser issue, depending on which administration is under discussion. Just yesterday, a reporter asked Ms. Psaki about reports that civilians had been killed in a U.S. drone strike. Her answer, in essence: Hey, we’re doing the best we can:

QUESTION: Do you have any confirmation of reports that any civilians were killed in these – this latest round of strikes?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, this is – any reports of civilian casualties we take very seriously. The Department of Defense looks into that. We understand that there have been reports from activists alleging that civilian casualties occurred. I’ll just reiterate that no other military in the world works as hard as we do to be precise and avoid civilian casualties. But while we strive to avoid them, when any allegation is presented we investigate it fully and strive to learn from it as to avoid it in the future. So that would, of course, be under the Department of Defense.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Asia?

QUESTION: Yes.

QUESTION: Wait. No other military in the world —

QUESTION [SIC]: Other than Israel.

QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. I seem to recall the Israelis saying this–the same thing. You think you’re better at it than the Israelis are?

MS. PSAKI: We think we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we continue – encourage all countries to do the same.

Michael Ramirez gets the last word. Click to enlarge:

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