Mideast Crisis: Is This a Profile in Courage?

The Obama administration’s response to the Israeli blockade of Gaza has been, to put it charitably, uncertain. Are the Israelis right to try to prevent ships of any kind bound for Gaza from bringing offensive weapons into the Hamas terror state? Gaza is not some remote location. Gaza abuts Israel. Four thousand rockets have been fired by Hamas from Gaza into Israel proper, into civilian areas, into Jewish homes, shops, and houses of worship. Hamas has declared war on Israel. Hamas is dedicated to eradicating “the Zionist entity.” They won’t even name the Jewish state.

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After initially proclaiming, chest out, that there would not be “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel’s right of self-defense, the Obama administration began backtracking. Like Annie, unnamed officials began to sing: “The sun will come out tomorrow.” They could hardly admit, after all, that the administration’s Mideast policy is shambolic. (That’s a nice internationalist touch for you. “Shambolic” is Brit slang for chaotic, disorderly.)

What we need is clarity. The Israelis had no choice but to intercept the Turkish-sponsored “flotilla.” What ensued when Israeli commandos repelled onto the deck of a Turkish ferry boat was indeed shambolic. The “peace” activists who crowded the deck set upon the Israeli soldiers with their palm fronds. Or was it olive branches? Try lead pipes.

And the Israeli commandos, those aggressive brutes, fired back. The French would understand very well this aggressive behavior. They have a phrase: “This animal is very mechant (wicked). When you attack it, it defends itself.”

Compare today’s response of daylight not showing between us and our Israeli allies, then peeping through, with the clear, hard determination of President Kennedy when we were threatened by Soviet missiles in Cuba, or, “Cuber,” as our brave young leader pronounced it. Here’s how Kennedy described U.S. actions on 22 October 1962:

To halt this offensive buildup a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba from whatever nation or port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.

Is this not precisely what the Israelis were trying to do with Gaza? Cuba was 90 miles off our shores. Gaza is right there. What were the Israelis attempting to do other than to inspect “all ships of any kind?” Didn’t the U.S. plan to do precisely that with Soviet freighters approaching Cuba? And if one those Soviet ships had decided to defy the U.S. quarantine, we probably did not plan to send in boarding parties. Kennedy probably planned instead to send a shell through their pilot house. The Israelis are being blamed for not sinking the Turkish ferry.

The Israelis allow the “necessities of life” to get through to Gaza. But they join with Arab Egypt in a blockade that attempts to prevent weapons from going in to Gaza. In Gaza, “humanitarian” aid takes the form of ambulances that transport rockets and hospitals that store them.

Vice President Joe Biden warned us of this. He said the world would test our young leader. And he pleaded for patience and understanding when that test came. It would not be immediately apparent that the administration was pursuing the right course, Biden told Democratic party donors in Seattle, just before the `08 election. That’s why their support was especially crucial.

Well, Joe got that part right. It is not immediately clear that this administration’s Mideast policy is on the right course. We are in a military and diplomatic fog that is totally unnecessary. And it has all been brought about by confusion at the top. What we need is a profile in courage, like that shown by the young, untested President John F. Kennedy. What we are hearing is an uncertain trumpet. Who can respond to that?

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