Gillerman was right

When asked the French delegation how the French would respond to cross-border attacks.

danny gillerman 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
danny gillerman 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
'We don't need to fan the flames in public," griped an Foreign Ministry official to this newspaper on Monday. "Nobody authorized him to touch off an open crisis with France," the official said of Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman. During Friday's debate on an anti-Israel UN General Assembly resolution, Gillerman turned to the French delegation and asked, "If France was shelled across the border, what would the French do? Would the French government send flowers to the attackers? Well, by voting for this resolution you will be sending flowers to the terrorists, flowers which tomorrow will be laid on the grave of the next Israeli victim." Undiplomatic? Certainly. Counterproductive? Maybe. Deserved? In spades. According to Gillerman, France not only supported - in contrast to abstentions by Denmark, Japan and the UK - the lopsided resolution that the US vetoed in the Security Council, but lobbied other European countries to support the similar Arab-backed resolution in the General Assembly. That resolution, in addition to deploring Israel's accidental killing of civilians in Beit Hanun, urged "the immediate cessation of military incursions and all acts of violence, terror, provocation, incitement and destruction between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, including extrajudicial executions, bombardment against Palestinian civilian areas, air raids and firing of rockets." This sort of moral mishmash was reflected in the statement of General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, who said, "We must condemn the assassination of Palestinian and Israeli civilians without distinction because such arbitrary killings are contrary to the rules of international humanitarian law." While there is, of course, no distinction between the need to protect the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, there is a huge distinction to be made between those who deliberately target civilians, known as terrorists, and nations that do their best to minimize civilian casualties while defending themselves. Palestinian terrorists are pleased to maximize civilian casualties on both sides, while Israel is desperately trying to minimize harm to civilians, again on both sides. France knows this full well. France also knows that every time the UN leaps to condemn Israeli errors, rather than the Palestinian aggression that precipitates them, the UN is actually encouraging the very "cycle of violence" that it purports to abhor. But why single out France and not the other 150-odd nations that went along? Because France expects to be seen as a leader among nations and must be judged as such. Unbelievably, French forces in Lebanon have "readily admitted," according to the Paris Link Web site, that they would "shoot down Israeli fighter pilots that breach the no-fly zone in Lebanon." This is a simple extension of the French position that Arab aggression against Israel is to be tolerated or ignored while Israeli defensive responses must be condemned and fought. It was at French insistence, of course, that the arms embargo provision in UN Security Council Resolution 1701 was effectively gutted by a provision that requires a Lebanese request before UNIFIL forces are allowed to police the Lebanese-Syrian border. Now weapons are flowing across that border that threaten both Lebanon and Israel, and the main French concern is that Israel is attempting to monitor this flow with its overflights. These flights would, of course, be unnecessary if France worked to reverse its error and helped block the illegal flow of weaponry across the Lebanese-Syrian border. Yet even this pales besides the greatest French contribution to the threats against Israel: its standing athwart efforts to impose effective sanctions on Iran. While Russia and China are guilty of greater obstructionism, France should be held to a higher standard. More importantly, it is France, along with Germany and the UK, who are ultimately responsible for submitting to the Russian-Chinese veto, rather than joining with the US in forcing the issue. France's ambassador to Israel wrote recently in this newspaper that France is proud of its "unshakeable commitment... as a friend of Israel." The feeling might be more mutual if French policies did not encourage terrorism against us, as Gillerman rightly charged, and did not acquiesce to growing threats to our existence.