Some in the Jewish community have been worried that President Obama would change his tune toward Israel following re-election, the theory being that he would have been freed from “electoral constraints.” It’s too early, of course, to tell how he will treat Bibi, what he’ll demand on the peace process, how strong a line he’ll take on settlements, and the plethora of other issues ripe for tensions between the US and Israel.
But the administration''s first move concerning Israel since the election suggests that, for now at least, such fear is misplaced.
After a day of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, in which the IDF assassinated the military commander of the Islamic terror organization and hit many of the group’s sites throughout Gaza, the US State Department issued a statement that puts the blame for the violence and resulting civilian casualties entirely on Hamas.
“We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence,” the statement by spokesman Mark Toner begins.
The violence here is entirely tied to Hamas’s provocations. And later, in the space generally reserved for American calls for restraint on both sides, the US backs up what Israel''s doing as already exercising restraint: “We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”
Then the statement spends another paragraph bashing Hamas for “counterproductive” attacks on Israel that do “nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self-determination.”
So far, a tougher line on Israel – or even a more “even-handed” approach – is nowhere in sight.
- Hilary Leila Krieger