The gathering storm, cont’d

William Shawcross is the son of Winston Churchill’s lawyer, the prominent former Nuremberg prosecutor and Labor MP Sir Hartley Shawcross. He thus provides something of a living link to Churchill whom we are especially proud to claim as a friend of our site. In today’s Jerusalem Post, Mr. Shawcross writes on the “irrational, obscene hatred” evident in the response of the international community to Israel’s enforcement of its blockade of Gaza:

The realities of Gaza, Israel and the West Bank – where, with Israel’s assistance, the Palestinian economy is booming – are deemed irrelevant to the conventional narrative. Israel is a cartoon villain, beyond sympathy, beyond even redemption. What is deeply shocking – and frightening – is that the narrative the world accepts is always that of Israel the evildoer.
It was true with the so-called Jenin massacre allegedly committed by the Israelis in 2002. There was no such massacre. It was a lie that was widely and uncritically propagated by the UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the BBC. It is true today. The hatred that Israel arouses is absurd, even obscene. One senior military source was quoted last week as saying it did not matter what his country did; however carefully it responded to such events as the “peace flotilla,” it would always be condemned in the UN, on the BBC and almost everywhere else.
The bien pensants of the Western world are never prepared to give Israel the benefit of any doubt. The UN has become more of a lynch mob than a constructive debating chamber. Israel’s right to defend itself is ignored. So is the fact that Iran has threatened to obliterate it, and that the Hamas rulers of Gaza are Iranian agents also pledged to its destruction.

Mr. Shawcross notes the relevant events involving the participation of the Obama administration that have lately threatened Israel. His column is a good companion to John Bolton’s superb New York Post column “Letting Israel hang.” Bolton identifies three occasions on which the Obama administration has left Israel hanging in less than a week:

First, in the UN Security Council, the administration succumbed to the rush to criticize Israel in a statement that, albeit watered down, nonetheless greatly intensified international pressure on Jerusalem. The correct approach was to resist the diplomatic peer pressure and bar any council action until tempers cooled and more facts were available — meaning at most a day or two’s delay. This America could easily have done. Failure to withstand the short-term heat only feeds the impression of White House weakness, and will come back to haunt us.
Second, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, America, joined only by Italy and the Netherlands in dissent, overwhelmingly lost a vote to establish an international investigation of the Gaza incident. Even as the Obama administration touted its success preventing a Security Council investigation, it was losing precisely the same issue in Geneva — demonstrating why concessions in New York did absolutely nothing to stem the anti-Israeli tide. So much for Obama’s idea that he could reform the palpably illegitimate Human Rights Council by having the United States rejoin it.
Third, just a few days previously, at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, the United States joined the consensus on a statement condemning Israel (which is not even a party to the treaty) and its nuclear program, while failing to condemn Iran, an NPT signatory that has been happily violating its treaty obligations. After the vote, National Security Adviser James Jones condemned the reference to Israel, utterly overlooking the fact that the Obama administration could readily have blocked it.

Bolton also points to a potential fourth example of Obama’s increasingly anti-Israeli policy: the administration’s strongly negative position on Israel’s Gaza blockade: “Although so far expressed largely in private, with only nuanced statements being leaked publicly, the White House is plainly leaning heavily on Israel to weaken the blockade in potentially fatal ways.”
Bolton concludes that the harm caused by American weakness on the Gaza blockade issue will reach far beyond the Middle East: “America’s friends and allies increasingly realize that President Obama won’t stand with them in controversial circumstances.” Bolton suggests that “those closest to us will calibrate their own interests more carefully to hedge against US weakness, step by step distancing themselves from us.” I would add only that those most opposed to us have taken the measure of Obama’s weakness and are taking advantage of it in ways that bring a major conflagration ever closer.

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