Obama, Clinton: Injuring Israeli Civilians Worse Than Killing Palestinian Civilians
Hamas and Israel have reportedly agreed to terms for a ceasefire, which should be taking effect right about now. This is a welcome development.
But just because a ceasefire has been agreed upon doesn't mean that we can or should forget the United States's hypocritical response to the violence, which was on display as late as this morning when President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued statements on a bus bombing in Tel Aviv said by some to be perpetrated by Hamas.
Recall the statements President Obama and State Department put out in response to the initiation of Israel's air assault last week. According to a statement issued by Ambassador Susan Rice, President Obama "expressed regret at the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence" but only "urged that Prime Minister Netanyahu make every effort to avoid civilian casualties." The State Department also said that they "regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence" and "encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties." Both blamed the violence entirely on rocket fire from Gaza which is, of course, not the whole story. There was no condemnation of the violence against Palestinian civilians, only a not-so-subtle endorsement of Israeli aggression.
Yet, in response to the Tel Aviv bombing, the United States was ready to condemn violence against civilians. Secretary Clinton said that "the United States strongly condemns this terrorist attack and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the people of Israel." And here's the White House's response:
The United States condemns today’s terrorist attack on a bus in Tel Aviv. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those injured, and with the people of Israel. These attacks against innocent Israeli civilians are outrageous. The United States will stand with our Israeli allies, and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack. The United States reaffirms our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people.
So the President "condemns" the attack on civilians in Tel Aviv and thinks that injuring Israeli civilians is "outrageous", but only "expressed regret" at the killing of Palestinian civilians and "urged" Netanyahu not to kill too many of them. This is tantamount to saying that harming Israeli civilians is worse than killing Palestinian civilians, which is especially disgusting considering this is a supposed Nobel Peace laureate making these statements.
All violence against civilians ought to be condemned. The fact that the leaders of the United States find themselves incapable of condemning the killing of Palestinian civilians reveals an unjust bias in favor of one group of civilians over another. That is simply unacceptable.
Just because a ceasefire has been called doesn't mean this problem is going to go away. In order for there to be a long-lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the United States must recognize the equal worth of the Israeli and Palestinian people, and must force the Israeli leadership to recognize this same equality as well. Otherwise, there is little hope for a permanent peace.