Israel Lobby Reacts to Flotilla Clash

Sine Israeli commandos boarded the flotilla bound for the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip early Monday morning, we've seen two different reactions from the two most prominent Israel lobbying groups in the U.S.


First, the left-leaning J Street released this statement from its president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, on Monday:
J Street is deeply shocked and saddened by reports that at least 10 civilians have been killed and dozens more wounded (including Israeli soldiers) this morning as Israel intercepted a naval convoy bringing humanitarian supplies and construction materials to the Gaza Strip.

We express our condolences to the families of those killed and we wish the injured a full and speedy recovery. We hope that leaders on all sides will take immediate steps to ensure that this incident does not escalate into a broader round of violence - in Israel, in Gaza, or in the region.

There will undoubtedly be calls in the coming days for a UN investigation into today's events. A credible, independent commission appointed by the Israeli government should provide the world with a full and complete report into the causes and circumstances surrounding the day's events and establish responsibility for the violence and bloodshed.

This shocking outcome of an effort to bring humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza is in part a consequence of the ongoing, counterproductive Israeli blockade of Gaza. J Street has been and continues to be opposed to the blockade - believing that there are better ways to ensure Israel's security and to prevent weapons smuggling than a complete closure of the Gaza Strip.

We do not know yet what the impact of today's incident will be on the just-restarted peace process, on Israel's relations with the international community, or on the health of Arab-Jewish relations within Israel itself.

We do know, however, that today is one more nail in the coffin for hopes of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict peacefully and diplomatically and for preserving Israel's Jewish and democratic character. We urge President Obama and other international and regional leaders to take today's terrible news as an opportunity to engage even more forcefully in immediate efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Next, not exactly a statement, but an account from AIPAC, the traditional powerhouse of the U.S. Israel lobby. AIPAC posted the following to the group's website Tuesday morning in the main feed, where news about Israel appears:
Israel on Monday intercepted six ships that were attempting to break the blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Israeli Navy boarded five of the six ships without incident. However, on one ship, radicals-some with ties to terrorist organizations-attacked the Israeli soldiers with metal rods and knives. The Israeli soldiers were then forced to use live ammunition to defend themselves. Despite issuing numerous warnings throughout the week that the Gaza coast was a closed military zone, and offering to deliver all legal supplies to Gaza through the Israeli port of Ashdod, the flotilla proceeded toward the Gaza shore, seeking confrontation with Israel. As the ships neared Gaza, the Israeli Navy issued another warning to stop their progress and be escorted to Ashdod, an order that they again refused.

AIPAC has not yet put out a statement reacting to the flotilla incident.