Ashton’s blunder

The EU foreign policy chief's moral obtuseness and evidence of anything but upright impartiality.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton 390 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Kimmo Mantyla/Lehtikuva)
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton 390 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kimmo Mantyla/Lehtikuva)
There are only two explanations for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s remarks on the deliberate slaughter of innocents in Toulouse and her later attempt at “clarification.” She is either blatantly biased or she is incredibly insensitive.
In either case she doesn’t come off well, to say nothing of the possibility that she is both biased and insensitive.
At an UNRWA event in Brussels Monday, Ashton paid tribute to underage victims, throwing together the bus crash in Switzerland where 20 Belgian children died, the Syrian conflict, the Toulouse homicides, Gaza’s violence, etc.
She pontificated thus: “And in days when we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances, the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy.... When we remember what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what’s happening in Syria, when we see what’s happened in Gaza and Sderot. In different parts of the world, we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”
What was missing from initial reports was the inclusion of Sderot. But its addition didn’t serve to soften the impact of what in the very least was gross tactlessness on Ashton’s part. Though she did complain that that her words were misconstrued, careful scrutiny of unedited tapes and transcripts still unequivocally uphold the initial offensive impression.
She lumped the point-blank shootings in France of three small Jewish children and the father of two of them with an assortment of other misfortunes which are unrelated and hence plainly diminish from the barbarity of the Toulouse crime.
It needs to be stressed that the victims outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school weren’t inadvertently felled in a hail of bullets. They were shot in the head, each at close range, to “verify” their deaths. Eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego was chased by the murderer who grabbed her hair and, pulling it hard, pinned his pistol to her temple and pulled the trigger.
This is malice aforethought in the utmost extreme.
The victims’ sole crime was that they were born to Jewish parents.
It was bad enough that Ashton deemed it appropriate to list their brutal slaying as nothing more than “what happened in Toulouse,” among an inventory of entirely different juvenile deaths. But her words took on a sinister bent when she saw fit to insert Gaza into her catalogue. There she entered the realm of distortion.
The Toulouse victims were targeted because of their identity. Someone wanted them dead.
Nobody in Israel wants to harm a single hair on any Gazan child’s head. Indeed, Israel risks the lives of its own soldiers to avoid risk to enemy civilians. It can safely be stated that there’s no military in the world as careful and as ethical as the IDF.
If any Gazan youngsters get caught in the crossfire, it isn’t because of Israel but despite Israel’s best efforts to avoid “collateral damage.” There are no evil designs in Israel against Arab children, but there are evil designs in Gaza against Israeli children.
Were it not for the evil Gazan designs, no child in Gaza would be vulnerable. Were no rockets unleashed from Gaza at Israeli children in Sderot, there would be no need to mount a defense and nobody would be hurt.
But Ashton was obviously feigning ignorance of so basic a point. Her moral equivalence is plainly objectionable even if we only note the ostensible evenhandedness toward Gaza and Sderot. Ashton may deny drawing repugnant parallels, but her words cannot be otherwise interpreted.
Still worse is the fact that nowhere during her Brussels address did Ashton bother to express outrage at the Toulouse savagery and denounce it. She merely mentioned it. It was only a day later, after the outcry she engendered, that Ashton remembered to “condemn unreservedly the terrible murders” and belatedly to so much as extend condolences to the bereaved families.
This is too little, too late. This is moral obtuseness and evidence of anything but upright impartiality.