[Rushtalk] State Department’s War on Israel Exposed

Carl Spitzer lynux at keepandbeararms.com
Tue Dec 16 03:22:58 MST 2014

State Department’s War on Israel Exposed

Jonathan S. Tobin | @tobincommentary 11.10.2014 - 2:15 PM

Last week, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, exposed the hypocrisy of Obama administration officials who
criticized Israel for taking insufficient care to avoid harming
civilians during the war in Gaza this past summer. But the State
Department isn’t backing down. Despite Dempsey’s statement that Israel
gone to “extraordinary lengths” and had done what they could to spare
innocents, when asked about the issue on Friday at the daily State
Department press briefing, spokesperson Jen Psaki simply dismissed
Dempsey’s avowal as irrelevant to the administration’s agenda.

Here’s the full exchange with Matt Lee of the Associated Press:

        MATT LEE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Yesterday, the ICC made its decision
        that there was no case to prosecute for war crimes in Gaza. But
        also yesterday – and you spoke about that very briefly here. But
        also yesterday, General Dempsey, who is no slouch when it comes
        to military things, told an audience in New York that the
        Israelis went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral
        damage during the Gaza war. And I’m puzzled, because I thought
        it was the position of the Administration – or maybe it was just
        the position of the State Department and the White House – that
        Israel was not doing enough to live up to its – what you called
        its own high standards. Back on August 3rd, there was the
        statement you put out after the UNRWA school incident, saying
        that the U.S. “is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling.” And
        that was some pretty fierce criticism. How do you reconcile
        these two apparent divergent points of view? When this statement
        came out, the United States was appalled? Did that just mean the
        State Department was appalled?
        JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT: No, that is the position of the
        Administration; it remains the position of the Administration.
        As we made clear throughout the summer’s conflict, we supported
        Israel’s right to self-defense and strongly condemned Hamas’s
        rocket attacks that deliberately targeted civilians, and the use
        of tunnels, of course, of attacks into Israel. However, we also
        expressed deep concern and heartbreak for the civilian death
        toll in Gaza and made clear, as you noted in the statement you
        pointed to, that we believed that Israel could have done more to
        prevent civilian casualties, and it was important that they held
        their selves to a high standard. So that remains our view and
        position about this summer’s events.
        LEE: Okay. But I’m still confused as to how you can reconcile
        the fact that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – who
        knows a bit about how military operations work, I would venture
        to guess; I don’t know him, but I assume that he wouldn’t be
        chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if he was – if he didn’t –
        MS. PSAKI: Correct.
        LEE: — says that the Israelis essentially did the best that they
        could and lived up to – by extension lived up to their high
        standards by taking – by going to, quote, “extraordinary
        lengths” to limit the collateral damage.
        MS. PSAKI: Well, I would point you to the chairman’s team for
        his – more specifics on his comments. But it remains the broad
        view of the entire Administration that they could have done more
        and they should have taken more – all feasible precautions to
        prevent civilian casualties.

This stand tells us two things about the Obama administration.

The first is that facts played no part in its attacks on Israel at a
time when thousands of rockets were raining down on Israeli cities and
terrorists were using tunnels to cross the border to attempt kidnappings
and murders of Jews. Hamas did its best to hide behind civilians in
Gaza, something that was aided and abetted by an international press
corps that was either too intimidated by the Islamists to report on
their activities or to shoot videos of photos of armed terrorists or
missile launches. But, as Dempsey rightly concluded, the Israelis were
cautious about firing at positions embedded among civilians and adopted
various strategies to keep collateral damage to a minimum. The fact that
the U.S. Armed Forces sent a delegation to learn about the Israel
Defense Forces’ policies so as to help Americans to improve their own
record speaks volumes about the Pentagon’s views about criticisms of the

Yet the State Department and the White House both sought to hammer the
Israelis for every incident in which civilians were killed. The fact
that the Israelis were every bit if not more scrupulous about this
concern than American forces operating in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq,
or Syria is not in dispute, certainly not by their U.S. commander.

The reason for these criticisms, which continue despite being
contradicted by Dempsey, has to do with politics, not the ethics of war.
The president and his foreign-policy team are determined to besmirch
Israel and undermine its democratically elected government no matter
what the circumstances. If the allegations are not supported by the
facts, that doesn’t deter Psaki and her masters from continuing their
broadsides since the objective is not to actually change the policies of
the Israel Defense Forces. It is to pressure the Jewish state’s
government to forgo the right of self-defense that she says the U.S.
supports and to make concessions to the Palestinians that would make
another round of even deadlier violence even more likely.

The second thing this bizarre clinging to discredited positions tells us
is that there is little respect for military realities or the opinions
of the country’s military professionals within the Obama administration.
This has been reflected in the president consistently ignoring their
advice in abandoning Iraq and planning to accelerate the withdrawal from
Afghanistan as well as to his insistence on the idea that scattered
bombing will stop ISIS.

Such a disconnect between the military and the administration is
forgivable in peacetime. Though he has sought to flee from it, Obama is
a wartime president. But, as this episode reveals, the war he prefers to
fight is the political one against Israel, not the real one Islamists
are waging against the United States and its allies.

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