Roger L. Simon

What motivates the State Department?

At least according to Reuters (always iffy) the State Department is not delivering the same message on the Gaza crisis as the President it allegedly serves. Bush has told the Turkish PM that the first step to defusing the crisis is the return of the kidnapped Israeli soldier. Meanwhile from our SD:

A senior State Department official said Thursday a firm message had been delivered to the Israelis, who have arrested Hamas Cabinet members and stepped up pressure to free Shalit.

A firm message about what? What have the Israelis done? Let’s review the history:

1. The Israelis withdrew from Gaza unilaterally returning control the Palestinians.
2. The Palestinians began warring with each other (to use polite language)
3. Palestinian groups allied to both Fatah and Hamas began firing Qassam missiles into Israeli territory. Several hundred (maybe more) landed without Israel reacting. People were injured. Still not much from Israel even though their own citizens were (rightly)disconcerted.
4. A Palestinian terrorist (excuse me, “militant”) group dug a tunnel into Israeli territory, killed people and abducted a soldier. (They obviously would have done more, if they could have.)
5. Israel attempted to get the soldier back in concert with the international community. No response from Hamas or the terrorists.
6. Finally, Israel reacted- without killing civilians, clearly with no intention of retaking Gaza – by arresting the Palestinian criminal leadership responsible for the terrorism.

In other words, they have acted with remarkable restraint, if you think about it, for a nation whose territory was invaded. (Compare it to how almost any other country would have reacted under the circumstances.) Even the normally biased BBC cannot drum up much in the way of violence in their latest coverage, even if their headline highlights “clashes” (a grenade struck a bulldozer).

Now my question is – why the response of our State Department? We are supposed to be opposed to terrorism and when a nation acts responsibly against it, you would think we would applaud it. Only three explanations come to mind. The first I have alluded to – this is the usual reactionary blather from Reuters, therefore inaccurate. Two: State is playing a double-game, making a pretense of slapping the Israeli’s wrists while allowing the President to set the real policy. Three: State really believes what it seems to be saying. That would be most disturbing. Before commenting on the mindset behind this, I will act with my own restraint and wait to see what transpires. [Very diplomatic of you.-ed. Don’t worry. I’m chomping at the bit.]