Thursday, June 03, 2010

Israel Acts, Reaction Rash

It is, arguably, an ironic headline.

Posting in Slate on Wednesday, Natasha Lennard criticized Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) because on Hardball he had "bemoaned the international community's condemnation of Israel's actions, suggesting it's blown out of proportion compared to other recent global events."

The international community has condemned Israel's actions, rendering Slate's headline "So much for Barney Frank's courage on Israel" less cleverly sarcastic than counter-intuitive. Notwithstanding the ideological or demographic makeup of his district, it does take at least a little bit of courage on the part of Frank- a national figure- to take such a vocal position at odds with that of the international community and most of his liberal/progressive brethren.

Lennard quotes Frank and makes her argument:

"We had an unprovoked attack by North Korea on a South Korean submarine," he said. "46 people killed -- and a great deal of silence and equivocation."

But that's not really true. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's response to the Korean submarine attack was, in fact, nothing short of an unequivocal condemnation.

"We cannot allow this attack on South Korea to go unanswered by the international community," she said. "This will not be and cannot be business as usual. There must be an international, not just a regional, but an international response."

Perhaps Frank, in mentioning "equivocation," was actually thinking of Clinton's statement in response to the flotilla raid on Monday.

The response of the Secretary of State regarding the Israeli incident was, as Lennard implied, measured, though more appropriately so than she apparently believes. She contrasts that reaction to Clinton's remark about the North Korean attack: "This will not be and cannot be business as usual. There must be an international, not just a regional, but an international response."

Clinton was forceful- but Lennard neglects to tell us the outcome, implying, however indirectly, that the international community unloaded on North Korea in much the same way that it has done on Israel.

The attack on the flotilla occurred on Monday May 31, 2010. No time to waste! Less than two days later, in an online article posted at 7:20 p.m. Washington time on June 1, the Times of India reported:

The Security Council also convened an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss a draft resolution, to call for an international inquiry into the incident and compensation for those who had been killed.

"I condemn this violence," said Secretary-General Ban. "It is vital that there is a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place. I believe Israel must urgently provide a full explanation," he said....

In individual statements, the 15 UNSC members issued remarks, almost all condemning the assault....

While the Security Council discussed a draft statement to condemn the attack, top UN officials came out strongly against the incident.

"I unequivocally condemn what appears to be disproportionate use of force, resulting in the killing and wounding of so many people attempting to bring much-needed aid to the people of Gaza, who have now been enduring a blockade for more than three years," said Navi Pillay, the UN human rights chief.

Meanwhile, South Korea- unlike the Gaza Strip, not ruled by an organization whose raison d'etre is terrorism- begs:

South Korea would like to see the U.N. Security Council issue a political response to the North for its alleged role in the March sinking of a South Korean patrol ship instead of pursuing further sanctions, a high-ranking Seoul official said yesterday (see GSN, June 1)....

"We expect the Security Council to send a political, symbolic and moral message that such acts as the Cheonan incident cannot be tolerated and that North Korea should be held accountable and should not repeat this kind of military provocation," he said.

Seoul accused Pyongyang late last month of carrying out a submarine torpedo attack that sank the warship Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 sailors. The United States and Japan have thrown strong support behind South Korea following the conclusion of an international probe into the ship sinking. North Korea has vehemently denied playing any role in the incident.

Ten weeks later, South Korea is requesting, almost pleading, for a token response. There has been no Security Council "draft statement to condemn the attack" or roughly a dozen member nations of that body condemning the action or angry demonstrations throughout the world. This follows an attack which killed 46, not nine; and apolitical sailors, rather than armed and/or unarmed activists and/or mercenaries.

Details of the raid are in dispute. Fairness of the sea blockade (humanitarian supplies by land are routinely admitted to Gaza) is in dispute. The existence of a double standard? Not so much.

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