Widespread Criticism of U.S. Response to Flotilla Crisis

Neither advocates of the Gaza blockade, nor champions of the Palestinian cause are happy

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If the mark of a good compromise is both sides walking away feeling shortchanged, then President Obama's compromise between American critics and defenders of Israel's flotilla raid has been a success. Neither the pro-Israeli advocates of the Gaza blockade nor those who champion the Palestinian cause have been very happy with the U.S. response. To be fair, the majority of U.S. Israel defenders have also been critical of Israel's handling of the flotilla. But how should we judge the U.S. response?

  • Can Obama Bring End to Gaza Blockade?  The Israel government is hinting it may be considering an end to the controversial blockade. The New York Times' Isabel Kershner credits President Obama. "The government’s new flexibility follows a week of unrelenting international outrage over Israel’s commando raid on a flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists, which left nine dead, and reports that senior officials in the Obama administration were calling for a 'new approach' in Gaza and had concluded that the blockade was untenable. President Obama added to the pressure on Israel in an interview with Larry King that was broadcast Thursday night. While declining to condemn the raid, he said, 'What’s important right now is that we break out of the current impasse, use this tragedy as an opportunity so that we figure out how we meet Israel’s security concerns, but at the same time start opening up opportunity for Palestinians.'"
  • 'Too Little, Too Late'  Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch sees Obama hedging. "Still think Obama admin will push to ease Gaza siege in aftermath of flotilla debacle, maybe too little + late but would be right move." Lynch notes that, exactly one year after Obama's historic speech in Cairo reaching out to the Muslim world, his defense of Israel is the top story. "Cairo speech anniversary almost unmentioned in Arab press today except a few notes on unfulfilled promises + Gaza flotilla. Sad."
  • U.S. Inaction Enables Israel Critics  The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer writes, "The world is outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza. Turkey denounces its illegality, inhumanity, barbarity, etc. The usual U.N. suspects, Third World and European, join in. The Obama administration dithers." Krauthammer suggests that this makes the U.S. complicit in what he implies could become another holocaust. "The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists -- Iranian in particular -- openly prepare a more final solution."
  • Muslim Support for Obama Disappearing  McClatchy's Miret el Naggar and Margaret Talev write, "many Muslims in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East say they're dismayed that the promise of the speech has fizzled into U.S. policy-as-usual toward the region: civilian deaths in Afghanistan, an unstable Iraq, no pressure for reforms on Washington-friendly autocrats, no resolution for Guantanamo prisoners and no end in sight for the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Israel's deadly raid in international waters on an aid flotilla en route to break the siege on Gaza - and Obama's tepid response, in comparison to the condemnation of other world leaders - cemented perceptions for many of unconditional U.S. support for Israel. Some Arab commentators and bloggers said Obama no longer deserves his Nobel Peace Prize."
  • 'Transparent' 'Animus' Towards Israel  Powerline's Scott Johnson seethes, "Perhaps the most transparent element of Obama administration foreign policy is its animus against Israel. She is an inconvenient former ally."
  • U.S. Pushed Away by Israel  The New Republic's Leon Wieseltier writes, "It is hard not to conclude from this Israeli action, and also from other Israeli actions in recent years, that the Israeli leadership simply does not care any longer about what anybody thinks. It does not seem to care about what even the United States—its only real friend, even in the choppy era of Obama—thinks."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.